Before you give your energy to someone you can feel into your heart and ask: ' Am I doing this out of shame, obligation, or am I genuinely giving without expectations, just because it feels good to love and I want this person to have the opportunity receive my gift, whatever they choose to do with it?'
Are you secretly giving because you hope you will receive something in return?
Maybe others will turn around and appreciate you, pay attention to you, you'll receive the love that you have been longing for?
Do you often feel that your relationships are unequal, that you care more and end up feeling resentful that your love isn't reciprocated?
Or are you giving to keep the peace, so the other person won't leave you or say hurtful things to you?
This is codependency and it's not the highest expression of love: it's actually manipulation.
Nearly all human beings do/have done this ~ don't beat yourself up angel!
By existing on planet Earth, it's highly likely you didn't receive the love you deserved growing up.
You deserved alll of the love you wanted from your parents - the 'problem' is that many Earth beings are not sufficiently spiritually evolved to be able to consistently offer the depth of love that you deserve - and your caregivers didn't raise you with the template that you can actually give the love you seek ~to yourself~
Maybe in childhood you were expected to take care of everyone else's feelings and little attention was given to your own.
If nobody taught us how to love ourselves there is a deep grief process to go through around that ♡
The design of fulfilling human connection is that we are called to love ourselves first ~ and when we have found wholeness within, then to give from the overflow.
Unconditional love means that we give because our heart is overflowing with love, not because we want to be loved back (see unconditional love story highlight to clarify love vs. self abandonment)
You can tell if you are offering unconditional love because the action feels complete in itself and you feel peace. The main thing that matters is that you gave love. You know that how it's received is out of your control. You find joy from simply acting with integrity. If you are seeking something outside of yourself (conditional love) then you may feel anxiety or anger, that you are 'waiting' for the other person's response, that it 'means something', believing that your worth can increase or decrease based on how others treat you.
When we give conditionally, expecting something in return, even when that something is as innocent as the other person's love, we set ourselves up for suffering. Disappointment is inevitable as even the most loving, giving person can't meet our needs 100% of the time. We might also silence our own feelings and needs and then feel hurt when the other person isn't as attentive to us... then hit a boiling point where we explode with anger or cut off the relationship. (This kind of situation might have been avoided if we had practiced conscious communication about our own emotional needs and asked for what we wanted to receive and set boundaries with how much we can give). Or the other person may sense a motive behind your giving and feel that you are energetically clinging to them as the source of your happiness. They may feel pressured, overwhelmed or trapped and perhaps not know how to communicate their ~own~ needs and boundaries - often a cycle of an anxious partner pursuing and an avoidant partner distancing emerges.
You deserve to receive love and connection from others ~ but placing the expectation on a particular person to act in ways that make you comfortable is asking them to give away their freedom. When you find your own freedom by knowing you aren't obligated to save others, it feels unnatural to attempt to take others' freedoms away - you will naturally give only what feels right, rest and practice self care, and if someone says they aren't able to meet an emotional need you ask someone else or find a way to meet that need for yourself by going within. Unlearning these patterns is a continual process ~ few beings have mastered consistent genuine embodiment of unconditional love. If you catch yourself giving with expectation, be gentle with yourself and simply choose the action that aligns with love now.