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What Is Unconditional Love in a Relationship

Jonathan Riley

“The only way love can last a lifetime is if it’s unconditional” – Stephen Kendrick

Simply put, unconditional love is love for another person without regard for how it will benefit you or what you will receive in return. Unconditional love in a relationship means that each person is free to be themselves without worrying about rejection or abandonment. Rather than judging or scorning each other for their flaws or missteps, they give and receive compassion and acceptance. To love in this way is to offer genuine love, the kind of love that encourages others to be authentic.

According to Psychologist Carl Rogers, unconditional love requires an environment that provides genuineness, authenticity, openness, self-disclosure, acceptance, empathy, and approval. A long-lasting relationship is built on unconditional love because each person can feel openness, love, and the freedom to be themselves. Furthermore, Abraham Maslow supported the unconditional love perspective by stating that in order to grow, an individual must have a positive view of themselves. Therapist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl draws parallels between the human capacity to love unconditionally and living a meaningful life. In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Victor Frankl argues that love is the only way to truly know and understand another person. According to Frankl, unconditional love is the means by which we enable and reach human potential, and without it, it is impossible to know the true nature of another person.

The word “unconditional” has the potential to cause misunderstandings or to set unrealistic expectations for love and romantic relationships. However, there is a difference between unconditional love and conditional love. Unlike conditional love, which is “earned” when certain conditions, whether conscious or unconscious, are met, unconditional love is “given freely” to another “no matter what.” While unconditional love is viewed as limitless and infinite, conditional love necessitates some sort of finite exchange.

Another version of conditional love is passion. This is why, when the passion runs out, sometimes hatred takes its place. Both passion and hatred are immensely powerful feelings, and when someone we care deeply about does something that causes us pain, our passion can easily transform into hatred. This is why passion and hatred are forms of conditional love, and for this reason, neither emotion can nor should be present in a mature, long-lasting relationship. In order to prevent the passion from turning to hatred if your partner does not live up to your expectations, it is critical to have a solid, consistent, unconditional love underneath the passion.

Unconditional love is often misunderstood to mean that you have to continue loving your partner no matter how they treat you. However, just because your partner shares these feelings for you does not give them permission to treat you poorly, knowing that you will always come back no matter how bad they are. Having healthy boundaries is necessary for having healthy relationships. If someone constantly violates your boundaries, then they do not respect you or love you. Their love is conditional on their ability to treat you however they want, regardless of your feelings. Loving unconditionally requires reciprocity and if you feel as though you unconditionally love someone despite abuse, then this is not unconditional love. This “love” you’re feeling is actually just manipulation on the part of your abuser and your own insecurity about moving on with your life without them. If your partner has been physically, emotionally, or verbally abusive towards you, unconditional love does not imply that you should forgive them. If you are in an abusive relationship, it is important that you get help and get out.

Finally, in order to give unconditionally, you must first love yourself completely. According to research on unconditional love, people are more socially connected and have fewer mental health symptoms, implying that being loved unconditionally can have a positive effect on emotional wellbeing.