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
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.
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 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 is indicating 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.
Is unconditional love true love?
While they are very close, there are differences between the two. These typically center around one’s willingness to continue loving despite setbacks, and without expecting anything in return. True love may have all of the features that unconditional love entails, including the commitment to be there during hard times and putting someone’s needs before those of your own life— but this may come with a caveat or strings attached. Unconditional love is a more mature love and has no such conditions. Many also believe that true love is solely associated with the love of a romantic partner, while unconditional love can exist in many capacities.
Is unconditional love forever?
While unconditional love can exist in the moment, there is no guarantee that it will last forever. For instance, one may have unconditional love for someone, but may lose that love over time if they’re mistreated in the relationship. In cases such as these, one’s emotional well-being is more important than loving unconditionally and tolerating abuse.
Is unconditional love a feeling?
While unconditional love is more of a selfless act than a feeling, studies indicate that having unconditional love activates neural networks within areas associated with the brain’s reward system. So, while it is not a feeling in the strictest sense of the word, it does produce strong feelings of emotional well-being.
Is unconditional love painful?
While many say there is no better feeling than that of unconditional love, like other kinds of love, unconditional love can be painful in different circumstances. When we give someone unconditional love, it may hurt when they don’t return it-- even though we continue to love them unconditionally. Unconditional love can also be painful when someone we love unconditionally is in pain. Just as we can experience vicarious joy at their happiness, when we love someone unconditionally, we may also experience pain when they’re unhappy.
How do you express unconditional love?
Expressions of unconditional love are not too different than those of compassionate love.
You may express unconditional love with words, but often, actions speak louder. Here are some effective gestures and signs of unconditional love appropriate for romantic relationships and more:
- Consider their needs before your own needs.
- Empathize with them when they’re down and celebrate with them when things are going well.
- Let them know how important they are—to you and to the world.
- Be patient with their shortcomings.
- Support them through difficult times.
- Give them their space when they need it.
What does unconditional love truly mean?
In its purest form, it means to love someone for love’s sake without receiving anything in return. Many say that the love a parent has for their own child is a perfect example of what unconditional love truly means, other cite “agape”—a word used to describe God’s love for humanity. For others, romantic love is the type they most associate with unconditional love.
Why is unconditional love important?
Unconditional love is essential for humans for many reasons, but perhaps one of the most observable ways is the impact it has on child development. The work of Carl Rogers, a famous pediatric psychologist, reveals that children raised with unconditional love (or unconditional positive regard) are less likely to experience low self-esteem and psychological problems later in life.
What do you mean by unconditional?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, unconditional is defined as “not conditional or limited: absolute, unqualified.” Within the context of unconditional love, it means to love absolutely, without limiting conditions.
How long is unconditional love?
When one loves another unconditionally, the inference is it lasts forever. While this is often the case in healthy relationships, there are times when the ties of unconditional love must be cut, such as in cases of abuse or mistreatment.
What is the symbol of unconditional love?
What symbolizes unconditional love is often a very personal thing and is typically different between different people. Many believe the eternity symbol is most appropriate, while others prefer the heart shape. In Irish and Celtic culture, the trinity love knot and the Claddagh are considered symbols of love.
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