I'm going to keep this short and sweet. I think. We'll see what happens.

Something that has been on my mind lately is the word unconditional. This word is becoming more and more relevant to me considering I've lived almost my entire life under a conditional mindset.

I'm speaking entirely about attraction, love, and committment. Through conversations with others, and then subsequent conversations with myself, it dawned on me the other day that I exclusively date/seek those that are my type. Yes, cliche, I know. But we all have a type, right?

After all, I know what I want, or at least I know what I'm attracted to.

Sort of.

I also know what I'm not attracted to.

Sort of.

Oh yeah...and that grey area. An area that says "Hey, wait a second. Something's different, but a good different. That person might not have the perfect nose, the best butt, or a hot sense of style...but that person makes me feel good. That person treats me right. That person cares about me. That person offers me the world. That person could be my person."

But uf, that hair? Really?

Bad Ryan, bad.

I always felt that conditions needed to be met before I could fall in love with anyone. How could I possibly fall in love with someone that doesn't take my breath away? Isn't that how love works?

Mindset: Are you my type? Body/buck check. Hm, approved. Ok, let's go on a date.

Fast-forward one month later and oh, surprise surprise, turns out you're a freak. A hot freak, but a freak. That's too bad. Next. Another month, another freak. All hot freaks, but still freaks.

Year in, year out. That's what happens. Freaks. Hot freaks. But freaks.

Am I making my point?

Last night I went back in time 10 years and realized that the people I've had the most amazing experiences with and established a close, meaningful, and lasting bond were with individuals typically not meeting my conditions.

Yet somehow, even though my standards were not appeased, something was OK about it all. No, no...something was really great about it all. About this specific, amazing person. Something beyond the physical, material world.

Something real.

I now know those relationships were unconditional. It didn't matter what they looked like or what they dressed in, or how tall, skinny, fat, loud, quiet, smart, or whatever else...there was something bigger than all of that. Something much more important. There was a bond. There was a connection. Two-sided, too--that person felt the same way about me. Our relationship was about who we were, and what we meant to each other. Not who we appear to be to the untrained eye.

And for once

I felt happy.
I felt comfortable.
I felt safe.
I felt beautiful.
I felt alive.
I felt loved.
I felt real.

And at some point, that all clicked in my head. I stepped back and said to myself "Ryan...this person is amazing, inside and out. Value them."

And to this day I still value most of those people and I think about them often.

Their conditional offerings are still on the backburner. Maybe the years haven't been good to them. Maybe they look different now. But it doesn't matter. I miss how they made me feel. I miss how close we were. I miss them. Sometimes, so much.

These relationships certainly trump any of the encounters I've had in the recent past with my conditional checklist sizzling on the frontburner.

Forget that.

Keep an unconditional mindset, Ryan. It's so, so extremely important.

Value someone for who they actually are, and what they actually offer you. Long term. Today, tomorrow, and maybe...just maybe, forever.

It's the only way you'll pair your soul.