What Does Unconditional Love Mean?

Medically reviewed by Dr. April Brewer, DBH, LPC
Updated April 30, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

What comes to mind when you think of unconditional love? It’s nice to think that someone will love and accept you no matter what, but what does that really mean? And if you love someone unconditionally, does that mean you have to accept every flaw, every bad behavior? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what unconditional love is, as well as what it is not. 

What unconditional love is

Unconditional love may mean that you think of the other person in the relationship when making decisions and you are willing to sometimes give up the things that you want to do to allow them to do the things that they want to do.

It is often a willingness to forgive minor offenses and mistakes. If you unconditionally love someone, you also don’t keep track of who “wins” more fights or gets their way more often; you may be willing to admit when you are wrong. You don’t let pride stand in the way and you ask for forgiveness yourself.

Unconditional love is a choice

When you are in a relationship with unconditional love, you usually don’t feel the pressure to try to be just like the other person or put on a false front. Instead, you should feel that there is a comfortable and safe space in your relationship where you can be 100% who you are. You don’t have to worry about being embarrassed around that person because you know that they have your back.

On the other hand, you also must accept that the other person is not perfect. At the beginning of relationships, it’s easy to look past the imperfections that the other person has. Even though everyone else can see them, you’re blinded to them. When you love someone unconditionally, you’re able to see those imperfections but choose to love them anyway.

Ultimately, unconditional love isn’t something that comes and goes. It isn’t just a feeling, either. Unconditional love is a choice that you make. There will be days when you wake up and you may not feel warm and fuzzy feelings for the other person. When you choose to love them unconditionally, you’re willing to work past the lack of feeling that you have at that moment and continue to show them love them anyway.

What unconditional love is not

It is important to understand that unconditional love is not an excuse to do whatever you want in a relationship, nor is it a free license to act however you want to without consequences. 

You should also know that having unconditional love for someone does not mean you have to let them get away with whatever they want to do. For example, if someone is participating in dangerous, hurtful, or risky behavior, it is not unconditional love to look the other way and let them continue. When you love someone unconditionally, you want the best for them. So, while you might not stop loving them because of what they’re doing, you also should not ignore it and allow them to continue their bad behavior.


Many people also mistakenly believe that unconditional love means there will not be any problems in your relationship. This simply isn’t true; oftentimes, you don’t truly know that you have unconditional love for a person until that love has been challenged.

Commitment in unconditional love

Relationships go through hard times. Some are harder than others. You may be faced with a time in your relationship when you have to decide if you want to walk away from the relationship or if you want to continue. Sometimes it may feel like it would be better to walk away. But if you unconditionally love someone, then you are willing to work through those difficult times to keep your relationship together.

However, there’s a reason that commitment means “for better or worse.” All relationships go through ups and downs. Sticking it out through difficult times is easier said than done, especially on your own. The good news is you don’t have to. A professional therapist, such as through BetterHelp, can help. 

Couples therapy has been found to be an effective treatment for helping couples in areas such as communication, intimacy, coping, conflict resolution, and psychological distress. Couples therapy generally focuses on learning and implementing solutions based on unconditional love and commitment. Even the best relationships may benefit from learning important relationship skills.  

Some couples may find it more comfortable or more convenient to meet with a therapist online rather than in person. Research indicates that online therapy is just as effective in most situations – including couples therapy – as in-person therapy. Additionally, online therapy is often less expensive than in-person – especially for couples without insurance – which can reduce the added financial stress that often keeps couples from getting help. 

Couples therapy sometimes also requires individual therapy. A common reason why people struggle with unconditional love is because of the negative feelings that they have towards themselves or negative experiences that they’ve had in the past. If you don’t truly love yourself and have healthy self-esteem, you’re not going to be able to show someone unconditional love the right way. Again, a professional therapist can help.

Unconditional love is a choice


Loving someone unconditionally is not always easy. It’s a commitment and a choice that take time, dedication, and understanding to achieve. It’s ok to ask for help. The professional therapists at BetterHelp are here to help.
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