Does Unconditional Love Create Healthy Relationships?

  1. Do You Believe in Unconditional Love?
  2. Unconditional Love and Unconditional Relationships
  3. But, Isn't Love Enough?
  4. What This Means For Your Love Life
  5. Conclusion
  6. Is Unconditional Love Real — Or Just A Romantic Illusion?
  7. What is unconditional love really? Does it exist, and if so, is it healthy?
  8. What does it mean to love someone unconditionally?
  9. What is an example of unconditional love?
  10. So, how do you love someone unconditionally?
  11. The Bottom Line
  12. Does Unconditional Love Create & Improve Good Relationships?
  13. What Is Unconditional Love All About?
  14. Real-life Examples Of Unconditional Love
  15. Unconditional Love In Relationships
  16. It Can Be Unhealthy
  17. Start Being Assertive
  18. How To Start Loving Unconditionally
  19. Share The Power
  20. Be Empathetic
  21. Ignore Little Annoyances
  22. Attract Love With The Law Of Attraction
  23. What it Means to Love Someone Unconditionally
  24. Unconditional love basically means you're not expecting anything in return
  25. Okay, but is unconditional love healthy?
  26. Yes, unconditional love can be be good for you.
  27. But arguably, unconditional love goes against human nature.
  28. As with any love, it starts with how we view ourselves.
  29. It varies between parental love and the romantic kind.
  30. And no matter what, conflicts must be resolved respectfully.
  31. What Is Unconditional Love? 5 Things To Look For
  32. What Is Unconditional Love? 
  33. No Strings Are Attached
  34. Partners Support Each Other 
  35. Partners Honour Requests (Without Compromising Themselves)
  36. Tough Times Are Worked Through With Kindness
  37. Partners Provide Security For Each Other
  38. Examples Of Unconditional Love
  39. Unhealthy Forms Of Love To Watch For
  40. It Comes With Limits
  41. Strings ARE Attached 
  42. Boundaries Are Ignored
  43. Inappropriate Behaviour and Disrespect Is Overlooked
  44. Needs Are Neglected
  45. Examples Of Conditional Love
  46. How To Love Unconditionally, With Boundaries
  47. Be Transparent About Your Expectations
  48. Learn To Listen 
  49. Communicate In A Non-Defensive Way 
  50. Notice Control Tactics
  51. Share Power 

Do You Believe in Unconditional Love?

Does Unconditional Love Create Healthy Relationships?

Welcome back to The Attraction Doctor

Do you believe in unconditional love?

I am asked this question frequently in discussions… When I respond with a «yes», my questioners are usually puzzled.

They wonder how I can believe in unconditional love, yet discuss very «conditional» dating and relating techniques such as reciprocal gift-giving, withholding forgiveness, rewarding a partner, etc.

After all, they assume, if you love someone unconditionally and truly bond with them, then you don't ever try to influence, limit, persuade, or set boundaries with them…right?

Their confusion over my beliefs and relationship advice is the result of their missing an important distinction. I'm going to share that distinction with you all now. It will help you to both truly enjoy unconditional love and develop healthy relationships.

Unconditional Love and Unconditional Relationships

Love is very important. When you find someone through dating and relating who loves you for «who you are», it is an amazing experience.

Similarly, it is rewarding to love someone else «as they are» (or «warts and all» as my grandmother would say). I believe that such a bond is priceless and should be nurtured with great affection.

Love is part of our emotions, attachment chemicals in the brain (for those inclined), and spirit (for those inclined).

Relationships, however, are an entirely different thing. Relationships are working partnerships. They involve thoughts, reasons, and decisions. They require two (or more) individuals in communication, commitment, and cooperative exchange.

As a result, love (feelings) and relationships (decisions) can have separate rules and expectations. Love, because it is a feeling, can be unconditional. Sometimes, no matter what a partner does, feelings toward them do not change. Relationships, however, are working partnerships. As such, they require conditions, boundaries, limits, and directions to run smoothly.

Therefore, a distinction must be made between «unconditional love»…and «unconditional relationships».

But, Isn't Love Enough?

Now that we have made the distinction between «unconditional love» and «unconditional relationships», it is possible to love someone without limit, yet still have contingencies placed upon continuing a relationship with them.

In other words, while you may continue to love a partner «no matter what», you may not choose to be in a relationship with them under all conditions. This distinction is important to understand. But, it doesn't hold for everyone…

There are some individuals that say, «no, love is enough». These individuals decide, as long as they have love, nothing else is necessary. As a result, their relationships become «unconditional» as well. They do not set firm boundaries, contingencies, or limits with their «partner».

They make «relationship» decisions their feelings of love alone. Sometimes this works out… Other times, however, because no one is actively creating a working «partnership», disaster can strike.

Furthermore, because there is an expectation to «accept the partner for who he/she is» at all times, relationships may perpetuate under the worst of conditions.

On the other hand, the distinction between love and relationships is upheld with individuals that say «healthy relationships are necessary too». These individuals love their partners unconditionally, but also set rules that maintain a relationship with them.

They use influence, limits, and contingencies to ensure a balanced, equitable exchange in their romantic partnerships.

Furthermore, while they may continue to «feel» love unconditionally, they also chose to end unhealthy partnerships when the conditions for them are no longer feasible.

  • Why Relationships Matter
  • Find a therapist to strengthen relationships

What This Means For Your Love Life

The dating task is very different for those who say «yes» or «no» to the question…»is unconditional love enough»?

For those who say «love is all I need» — Your task in dating is to select the «right» person…because that may be the only time you have influence over the health of the impending relationship. Once you choose and fall in love, you will then make keeping that love the highest priority.

As a result, your relationship will most ly become «unconditional» — and your partner will ultimately be free to behave as he/she chooses without repercussion. So, pick wisely. Find someone who will «do right by you» for all time. Make sure they are upstanding, conscientious, and love you very deeply in return (see here).

Otherwise, you may find yourself in a very unhealthy relationship, with little recourse to fix it.

For those who say «working partnerships are important too» — Your task in dating is to learn to set boundaries, limits, and contingencies to maintain a healthy relationship. Your task is to also use your influence in a caring and disciplined manner to create a balanced exchange with your dating partner.

Such skills are not exercised to «control» or «manipulate» for selfish gain, but rather to maintain a mutually-beneficial and satisfying partnership (see here, here, and here).

However, because your relationships will be more «conditional», personality differences can continue to be worked through after you pick a partner and fall in love. Unhealthy relationships can be remedied (or, in unfortunate situations dissolved), rather than simply endured.

Nevertheless, there are few things more painful in life than choosing to leave an unhealthy relationship with someone you unconditionally love. So, picking someone you can «work with» is still an important idea.


Today we have made an important dating distinction between «unconditional love» and «unconditional relationships»…

For those who place love above all, there is little distinction between those two concepts. Both their love and their relationships are ultimately unconditional. This merger makes identification and selection of a conscientious partner of the utmost importance.

However, for those who equally value working partnerships with love, there is a wide distinction between the two concepts. Love can be felt unconditionally, while still maintaining conditional requirements for the partnership.

This separation allows for more flexibility to both experience love and use influence to create healthy exchanges.

For these individuals, a disciplined knowledge of negotiation, boundary-setting, influence, and persuasion can be invaluable.

I hope this clears up the confusion. I also hope you choose whichever path is right for you. I will continue to provide advice and assistance to both groups as time goes on. Stay tuned!

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Until next time…happy dating and relating!

Dr. Jeremy Nicholson
The Attraction Doctor

Previous Articles from The Attraction Doctor

© 2011 by Jeremy S. Nicholson, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. All rights reserved.


Is Unconditional Love Real — Or Just A Romantic Illusion?

Does Unconditional Love Create Healthy Relationships?

When people talk about unconditional love in the context of romantic relationships, they're generally thinking of the kind of love that's easy; no decision-making or responsibility required.

We believe that when love is unconditional, nothing can tear it asunder. The two of you as one are infallible, ageless, timeless, and forever.

What is unconditional love really? Does it exist, and if so, is it healthy?

Here's the truth: unconditional love is a romantic illusion, and one that reflects a type of love that is immature.

New lovers are intoxicated by their overwhelming emotions for each other and by the potent chemical cocktail percolating in their brains. They feel as though their partner can do nothing wrong, and that even if they did, all would — or should — be forgiven.

This kind of love is still ignorant of the stages of life, the reality of marriage, and the important of individual development.

RELATED: There Are 5 Stages Of Love & Intimacy In Relationships — Here's How To Know Which You're In

Unconditional love is naïve and unaware that strong relationships are the result of two strong individuals who combine their life knowledge and wisdom to build lasting bonds and establish trust.

Your love for your partner is not without conditions. Neither is your parents' love, platonic love with friends, or other family members, or their love for you.

Mature love recognizes that healthy boundaries build romantic relationships and healthy connections. And this feels good!

Unconditional love has no boundaries. But the real world is conditional.

Positive and negative actions come with subsequent positive and negative reactions — as well as potential consequences.

If we're honest with ourselves, each of us has at least one condition in mind in regard to what we will and will not accept in a relationship, such as fidelity, honesty, loyalty, and respect. And even when partners agree on the conditions set for their own relationship, they must also agree on how what those conditions should look in practice.

What does it mean to love someone unconditionally?

Loving someone unconditionally means you love them truly, without expecting anything in return or without wanting to change them, and caring about their happiness before your own.

Unconditional love means loving without requiring acts or services in exchange. It means you can feel safe in knowing that you're not going to «lose» someone's affection for minor setbacks and mistakes.

It doesn't mean you'll never argue or fight; what it does mean is that you can place the boundary of «If we get to the point in an argument where we're screaming, we need to take a break to cool down.» It doesn't mean you accept your partner back after cheating on you without reestablishing trust and boundaries to help heal the relationship.

Unconditional love does not mean accepting abuse.

Unconditional love understands that people have boundaries, and that those boundaries must be respected in order to keep a harmonious relationship.

Unconditional love doesn't mean you accept less than you need for your happiness or theirs. It simply means you acknowledge what you both need and agree to love each other without forcing compliance or enacting a «debt» in order to keep receiving that love.

RELATED: 47 Essential Pieces Of Advice For Couples Who Want To Have A Healthy Relationship

What is an example of unconditional love?

An example of unconditional love in the familial sense is a parent putting their child's needs ahead of their own. For instance, if a child wakes up in the middle of the night after having a nightmare, unconditional love is a parent waking up themselves and comforting their child until they fall back asleep.

In a romantic relationship, another example of unconditional love is when couples offer emotional support to one another, without having conditions or expecting anything in return. They simply want their partner to feel better, and don't judge them for needing help.

So, how do you love someone unconditionally?

Loving someone unconditionally means taking the time to openly communicate, both about your needs and theirs. It means being considerate about their feelings while being comfortable expressing your own.

Think about how it is you came to believe what you do about unconditional love. Talk with each other thoroughly and often about what that concept means to each of you, carving nothing in stone.

As you move through time evolving as individuals and changing with circumstances, most of which will be unpredictable, chances are good that each of you will awaken to new thoughts, feelings, expectations, and assumptions about your relationship that make things seem different, perhaps even unworkable at times.

You're ly to have moments, some lasting longer than others, when you each feel misunderstood, confused, or unheard.

Who you were then, won't be who you are now. At times, you may not recognize each other, or even yourselves.

This is why it's crucial to build a solid foundation for your relationship from the beginning.

It's just not true that all you need is love.

The Bottom Line

Success demands we know what we're doing; proficiency comes with practice. You didn't become proficient at your job without learning and continuing to upgrade your skills. Having and using skills means the toolbox is there when something breaks.

Prepare yourself and your relationship for inevitable uncertainty, change and growth by commiting together to continue honing your communication skills and adding tools to your proverbial relationship toolbox as a united team.

How we adjust to change isn't always smooth or easy. Love-blinded couples are unprepared, surprised even, when life happens in the form of difficulties such as illness, joblessness, or family of origin demands.

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Realignment takes communication and work. Waiting for things to break before that work begins is never a wise choice.

Be sure to manage your expectations along the way.

There is no such thing as «the one,» but when relationship ups and downs happen, many of us get nervous and believe we've made the wrong choice.

But what did you expect? Partners can best manage uncomfortable moments of change by looking inward before blaming outward.

Because no, love by itself does not conquer all.

Personal boundaries create healthy togetherness. You're you. That's what made you attractive to your partner in the first place, just your partner being who they are is what attracted you to them.

We tend to think that true love means losing ourselves in the other, but all that earns is eventual resentment and lots of identity problems.

In truth, healthy partners provide the pillars that make a relationship strong by standing on their own as individuals.

True love requires both partners to take responsibility for themselves and for the relationship.

Your new love may feel unconditional, but when the rubber meets the road, love in and of itself is never enough — and it always comes with some form of conditions.

Being successful at marriage, relationships, or anything at all, requires skill supported by commitment and practice.

The idea of unconditional love is beautiful, but as we know, real relationships and real love require work, boundaries, and yes, conditions.

RELATED: These 21 Pieces Of Reddit Relationship Advice Will Transform Your Love Life

Kathe Skinner, LMFT, MA, is a marriage and family therapist based in Colorado Springs, CO, who specializes in communication issues, life transitions, self-esteem, and couple's counseling.


Does Unconditional Love Create & Improve Good Relationships?

Does Unconditional Love Create Healthy Relationships?

When we think about what we want in relationships, we often mention unconditional love. After all, we all want to be loved for who we are, and to have a sense that this love is secure.

But is this the real meaning of unconditional love, and is this sort of love always good for you? Also, how can you offer others, unconditional love, so that you might begin to receive it in return?

We'll start by delving into the concept of unconditional love and defining what examples of it involved.

From there, we'll look at whether unconditional love can ever be unhealthy, and what you can do to keep yourself safe in relationships. Next, we'll help you learn how to offer unconditional love to others, offering three tips you can start using to develop your love today.

Finally, we'll consider how you can use the Law of Attraction to manifest the best kind of love for you.

What Is Unconditional Love All About?

Part of the reason why the handling of unconditional love causes trouble in relationships is that people often disagree on its meaning.

So, what is unconditional love? At the heart of it is the idea of an emotional investment that is unchanging.

In other words, you care about this person and feel affection for them no matter what they do for you.

It's helpful to contrast this type of love with conditional love, which depends on things being done or said if it is to survive.

For example, if you love a friend because of the support they give you and would stop loving them in the absence of that support, this is conditional love.

Real-life Examples Of Unconditional Love

With this definition of conditional vs unconditional love in mind, what are some examples of unconditional love?

The most obvious cases are in families. Think of that rush of love that new parents describe, often remarking that it's nothing they've ever experienced. Others take longer to form this bond but experience it intensely nevertheless.

Indeed, mothers and fathers often report that they would die for their child in an instant, such is their devotion to that child's happiness. This is exactly what we mean by the idea of loving while needing nothing in return.

Similarly, you will often see this love reflected back from child to adult. This is most clearly true in early life when the child's world and sense of self revolve around their caregivers.

While unconditional familial love can take a hit in adolescence and can be trickier between siblings, it often stabilizes in adulthood.

Unconditional Love In Relationships

While it's easy to imagine that families are predisposed to love each other unconditionally, you might be skeptical that it's possible to love in adult relationships without any strings attached.

However, unconditional love can also develop between close friends, surrogate siblings, and even romantic partners. How do we know this?

As it turns out, neuroscientific studies show that certain parts of our brains are especially active – lighting up on scans – when we are experiencing what we described above as unconditional love.

This pattern of activity takes place in parts of our brains associated with experiencing reward.

So, we can surmise that when it comes to unconditional love, the regard you have for the other person is the reward in itself. You don't need anything else – just the knowledge of their existence.

Now that we've answered the question “is unconditional love possible?”, we can consider whether it's actually always a good thing.

It Can Be Unhealthy

While simplicity and purity to a parent's love for a baby, there are all sorts of reasons why you might think unconditionally loving a romantic partner is not safe.

When you say “I love you unconditionally”, you may worry that you're saying “You can treat me any way you , and I'll still be here.”

For example, you may end up with a partner who:

  • Has substance abuse problems with drugs or alcohol
  • Lies to you habitually
  • Cheats on you with others
  • Emotionally manipulates and gaslights you
  • Physically harms you.

And if you hold onto unconditional love in these scenarios, you can end up clinging to a relationship that brings you nothing but pain.

So, while unconditional love is absolutely possible between adults, we need to refine our idea of what a healthy version of it should involve.

This brings us to the concept of unconditional positive regard – treating your partner with love while still protecting your own wellbeing.

When this is what you feel, you know you can only communicate your feelings and needs with care and respect – you can't be everything to another person.

And, while you may ultimately love them for your whole life, unconditional positive regard allows you to disengage when you're being harmed.

Start Being Assertive

While unconditional positive regard sounds a healthy version of unconditional love, you might be wondering what it looks in practice.

In brief, it looks being clear and direct about what you want with your partner but also loving and kind when communicating it.

And, in turn, you are understanding and empathetic when hearing your partner's wants and needs.

The result should be effective two-way discussions that allow for compromise, real emotional intimacy, and – crucially – safety.

In sum, when you're in a romantic relationship it can be unhealthy to experience pure unconditional love because of the power our partners have to hurt us, and the importance of maintaining our own agency.

In contrast, unconditional positive regard involves caring no less but asserting our worth more.

How To Start Loving Unconditionally

At this point, you've thought about the power and goodness of unconditional love – and its adult form, unconditional positive regard.

Now, how do you approach developing a sense that love is unconditional in your own relationship?

Firstly, as suggested above, you need to embrace your own value – your right to assert what you want in a relationship. This is what will allow you to love while still saying save.

To do this, you need to take an honest look at what holds your self-esteem back. How could you improve your confidence?

Short-term exercises repeating positive affirmations and keeping a journal of your positive traits can help. And in the longer term, therapy can help you unlock the source of a lack of self-worth.

Secondly, it helps to work on accepting that we all have flaws – yourself and your partner included.

No one needs to be perfect to deserve unconditional love or regard, and we all make mistakes from time to time. Ask yourself if you hold your partner to too high or low a standard, and reflect on how to adjust that.

Here are three further practical tips you can apply immediately to cultivate unconditional love in your relationship

Share The Power

Equality in a relationship is vital if you're to have unconditional love. Ask yourself: who gets what they want more often, me or my partner?

If the answer is equal, then great – all you need to do is maintain that. If you tend to get what you want more often, commit to trying to compromise in your partner's direction at least 1-2 more times a day and see how it impacts your dynamic.

And if your partner tends to have more power, think about how you can assert your needs more clearly. It's often the case that partners don't want that power, but rather get it by default.

Be Empathetic

Given that open, compassionate communication is the cornerstone of unconditional love, your empathy needs to be finely honed.

Every time you express your feelings, do so honestly but also stop to think about how you'd feel if you were hearing this.

What might be hard for your partner? How can you take this into account while staying true to your message?

You should expect the same empathy in return from your partner.

If that isn't forthcoming, try to have a discussion about what you're looking for.

Those who aren't natural empaths often need a bit of prompting to think about the feelings of others.

Ignore Little Annoyances

When you love someone unconditionally, your focus is on the big things – not the little, everyday things that make you feel irritated with your partner.

We can all be annoying, leaving laundry on the floor or forgetting to run the dishwasher. However, when something this happens, stay in tune with unconditional positive regard by prompting yourself to think of three things you love about your partner.

And if everyday annoyances begin to feel too big to handle, see this for what it is – a sign that something deeper is going on under the surface. What might your annoyance or upset really be trying to tell you?

Attract Love With The Law Of Attraction

Finally, let's think about how you can use your new understanding of unconditional love in your Law of Attraction work. The key connection is that unconditional love is wholly positive.

So, if you embrace it and nurture then you vibrate on a high frequency of abundance. You attract abundant, compassionate, and genuine love from others.

In contrast, if you think mostly about what love can give – prestige, confidence, money, and so on – you vibrate on a frequency of lack, and will struggle to attract real, loving relationships.

The take-home message, then, is clear: try to visualize unconditional love going in both directions when you visualize your dream partner.

In addition, don't forget unconditional love for yourself is just as important as manifesting love from an ideal partner. After all, you need to believe you deserve that love, and if you can't offer it to yourself then you can't draw it toward you either.

Whether you're held back by low self-confidence, difficulties with guilt or forgiveness, or simply don't practice enough self-care, addressing these blocks will clear the way to the romance you've always wanted.


What it Means to Love Someone Unconditionally

Does Unconditional Love Create Healthy Relationships?

A parent who lays eyes on their child will ly declare its existence. Devout followers of a faith may turn to the divine for it. Many romantic comedies are it, while poetry and love songs serenade us about it, and those falling for each other, or happily married, often unwaveringly proclaim it. We’re talking about unconditional love.

But what exactly is unconditional love? Better yet, is it doable or even healthy? We asked experts to unpack if it can really conquer all, or if it's just rosy fiction, capable of causing more harm than good.

Unconditional love basically means you're not expecting anything in return

“It's a matter of extending our non-judgmental attention, acceptance, and caring toward a person without any expectation or hope of receiving anything back, or wanting them to change in order to meet our needs,” says John Amodeo, PhD and a licensed marriage and family therapist.

“When the happiness and security of another is as real and meaningful to us as our own, we love that person unconditionally,» adds Stephen G. Post, PhD, president of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love.

However, the trouble with this ideology is human love tends to be conditional on reciprocal calculations, tit-for-tat pay backs, and is generally a bit nearsighted, Post says.

Okay, but is unconditional love healthy?

If there's any sort of abuse or violence in the relationship, that's when unconditional love can cease to be a good thing, argues Post.

“Love of self is as important as love of your neighbor,” Post continues. “Unconditional love can be healthy, but this does not imply tolerating hurtful behaviors.

No one should ever be a doormat because it teaches others treating people that way is okay when it’s not,” he says.

Taken to an extreme, the belief that we should remain unconditionally loving, could enable a partner who refuses to enter couples counseling or seek personal help for a serious addiction problem, says Amodeo.“It could be a self-betrayal to remain with a partner who is damaging our soul,” he adds.

Yes, unconditional love can be be good for you.

Love isn't merely some altruistic action or duty, says Post. The unlimited type, especially, has to do with a real warmth that generally includes a sense of joy.

This state of emotional being is healthy because the neurological circuits associated with it— the mesolimbic pathway—when active, turn off the parts of the brain associated with bitterness, hostility, and other destructive emotional states that if left turned on create long-lasting stress and can do damage over time to vascular health, says Post.

But arguably, unconditional love goes against human nature.

Loving unconditionally in an adult relationship is a “noble ideal,» but it doesn’t pass the «reality test,» says Amodeo. He compares doing so to complying with a child’s plea, no matter how poorly they treat us. Of course, on the other hand, «mature love requires reciprocity,” he says. An adult is not a needy child who doesn't know any better.

Amodeo additionally compares his argument to a flower bed, which can only thrive with fertile soil, ample water, and adequate sunshine. In the same way, our relationships can't bloom in a climate of neglect, he says.

“Just as there are limits to what nature can offer us, there are limits to what we can offer others because as human beings we’re wired to have needs for acceptance, kindness, and intimacy,” says Amodeo, who wrote Dancing with Fire: A Mindful Way to Loving Relationships.

Now don’t get us wrong. It can feel good to offer love and nurturing to someone we care about without expectations of an immediate return.

We can't, however, expect to extend ourselves indefinitely if we’re not getting enough back or if our kindly expressed needs are continually ignored, Amodeo adds. Doing so can inevitably lead to feelings of depletion or defeat.

Know there is absolutely nothing shameful about wanting to meet our basic human longings in our adult relationships.

As with any love, it starts with how we view ourselves.

Ever heard of the idea that the love we accept reflects the love we think we deserve? Let’s dig into that as it relates to what unconditional love is.

The most effective way to love another person is to be committed to our own personal growth.

This includes unconditionally accepting our own authentic feelings or longings and caring enough about ourselves to convey our needs or desires to someone we love, says Amodeo.

“Our way forward is not to pride ourselves on being unconditionally loving, but rather to empower ourselves to learn what it takes to create a lasting, mature love. Rather than striving for selfless love, we can do our part to create conditions for mutual love,” he adds.

It varies between parental love and the romantic kind.

If in your eyes love is merely a kind of caring, as it is often the case in parental love, then love can be unconditional, says Aaron Ben-Ze'ev, PhD, the author of The Arc of Love: How Our Romantic Lives Change over Time. However, if love involves (in addition to caring) two-sided interactions amplifying the growth of the lovers and their relationship, then love must be–at least to a certain extent–conditional, he says.

And no matter what, conflicts must be resolved respectfully.

Emerson Eggerichs, Phd, author of Love & Respect, often challenges couples by saying, “in a conflict, the most mature person moves towards the other to seek forgiveness.” Unconditional love means there’s nothing your spouse can do to get you to stoop to a level that causes you to be unkind or harsh, according to Eggerichs, who defines unconditional love within the context of marriage.

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“Our spouses don’t cause us to be the way we are, they reveal who we are,” he says.

“It’s not always easy! Especially if our spouse is being less than mature,” says Eggerichs, adding his definition of unconditional love doesn’t suggest that we applaud or ignore unacceptable behavior.

“Unconditional love sometimes means the most loving thing we can do is have a hard conversation» about our partner's pitfalls.

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What Is Unconditional Love? 5 Things To Look For

Does Unconditional Love Create Healthy Relationships?

Published Mar 5th, 2021 & updated on Mar 19th, 2021

For those who grew up listening to love songs, we bet you were pretty busy imagining what your future love life would look and daydreaming about who you’ll be with forever and ever. Ahhhh romance.

We remember it well! But if you haven’t been in a relationship where unconditional love is a major player, you might not totally know what it means or what it’s even supposed to look ! We’ve gotchu, boo.


Unconditional love has a lot of layers. Shrek would probably argue that it resembles an onion or an ogre.

Relationships aren’t easy, no matter what the dynamic is, and there can be a lot to consider when difficult and strenuous situations pop up.

And sometimes when this happens, the unconditional-ness of unconditional love can start to feel more an obligation rather than a selfless act of kindness. 

So, let’s break it allll down together! We’re getting into what unconditional love really is and what it REALLY isn’t. 

What Is Unconditional Love? 

Unconditional. WOW that’s a heavy word, isn’t it? No strings attached, no expectations, no fine print, just… unconditional. This word is often paired together with ‘love’ and we loooove love! 

The problem with the term “unconditional love” is that it has a different definition for everyone who uses it. And this can get a little tricky because it can lead to us putting unrealistic expectations on ourselves or our partners.

For some people, it might mean defending a friend regardless of whether they are right or wrong. For others, it might mean being the ‘responsible one’ and calling out a friend when they’re making a questionable decision.

Either way, it’s really about giving in to the vulnerability of loving someone wholeheartedly.

Unconditional love can be between just about anyone in any kind of relationship. Friendships, romantic relationships, the relationship between a parent and a child, you name it! We even see this type of love from our pets. But what does unconditional love really look ? 

No Strings Are Attached

Loving someone unconditionally means that you don’t have an ulterior motive or unspoken expectation of obligation from the other person. No conditions. Just love. It’s a totally selfless act of caring for another person without thinking about how these actions could benefit you in the future. 

You just genuinely want to love, help and care for someone! And that’s pretty fucking incredible. It’s one of the best gifts that you could give to another person. The best feeling is when this person is able to reciprocate your no-strings-attached love, because it means that you’re well on your way to fostering a healthy and happy relationship! 

Partners Support Each Other 

Supporting your partner — or anyone you love for that matter — can bring a lot of happiness and health to a relationship.

Helping your partner through tough times, emotional struggles and life changes can help you accomplish more together than you ever ly could on your own.

wise, you get to share the good times and celebrate your individual wins together! The keys to supporting your partner are open communication, honesty, kindness and equality.

Partners Honour Requests (Without Compromising Themselves)

This is a masssssiiiiveee point that we want to really emphasize. Loving someone unconditionally does not mean that you can’t have boundaries. We’ll get more into boundaries and love a little later, but for now, we have to talk about your needs. 

The person, or people, you love can ask for your help. BUT, you’re not obligated to help or agree to their request if it goes against your own needs, boundaries and morals. And they shouldn’t expect you to compromise yourself to help them. Unconditional love can still be considered unconditional love when boundaries are included. In fact, we HIGHLY recommend it! 

Tough Times Are Worked Through With Kindness

It’s only natural for relationships to hit rough patches. No one is perfect and no one has a perfect relationship. You might be close, but we’re allll bound to have a disagreement every once and a while.

Forgiveness, kindness, listening skills and calm communication are major players when it comes to working through rough spots.

The key is that everyone in the relationship has to enact these techniques because, otherwise, it’s unfair and unkind to the other(s).  

Partners Provide Security For Each Other

With unconditional love, there is no fear or sense of uncertainty. It’s secure, kind and loving. You don’t feel you have to walk around on eggshells to placate the other person. It’s safe and warm, and it’s an emotional space without judgement that you share with this person.

Examples Of Unconditional Love

“I love that about you.”

“No matter what, your Dad and I will always be proud of you.”

“It’s okay to feel sad.”

“I don’t feel the same way but I understand why _______ is important you.”

“Congratulations! I’m so excited for you! You’ve worked so hard for this.”

“I know you have a really busy day so I’ve made your lunch for you.”

“Have a great day at school honey! Enjoy your lunch. Love, Dad.”

“Hey! I got you something. I saw this in the store and it made me think of you.”

Unhealthy Forms Of Love To Watch For

Many of us feel that when we offer unconditional love to someone we have to continue to love them regardless of any changes  — if they cross boundaries or disregard your needs. We’re here to tell you that’s not true and that it’s actually unhealthy af to do this. This is what conditional love looks :

It Comes With Limits

Loving without boundaries can lead to serious issues, being unhappy, abused and taken advantage of. You’re not meant to overlook the hurt and pain that another person causes you. It’s not healthy and TOTALLY unfair to you. 

Strings ARE Attached 

If there are strings attached to love…OOF! That’s not good. Love is not unconditional if you or your partner are expecting the other person to be emotionally obligated in one way or another.

When there are strings attached there’s an expectation of something in return. Yes, you should totally expect that the respect and love you give is reciprocated.

But, if your partner is expecting you to do something uncomfortable that goes against your own wellbeing, that’s unacceptable.

Boundaries Are Ignored

Boundaries are sooooooo important in relationships. It’s important to communicate your boundaries with your partner in a caring and kind way so that the two of you can work to respect the other’s needs.

When one person is blatantly ignoring the other’s boundaries the relationship becomes unhealthy. This behaviour can lead to hurt, neglect, pain and even abuse. We DEFINITELY don’t want that to happen to you.

Stay strong and don’t let anyone cross a line and disrespect your loving heart! 

Inappropriate Behaviour and Disrespect Is Overlooked

If someone has crossed a line, hurt you, disrespected you, and still expects you to accept it all, that’s not love. The meaning of unconditional love isn’t that you overlook this shit and accept it.

You are not meant to tolerate abuse and disrespect. That should never — everrrrr — be expected of you by your partner! Remember that your needs matter and you deserve kindness and respect from the other person.


Needs Are Neglected

It’s normal to care for someone else’s needs when you’re in a relationship, but it’s not ok to forget about your own. It’s also not ok for someone to expect you to neglect your needs for their own benefit. That’s some controlling behaviour and we are NOT here for it. 

Remember how we said that you are not obligated to assist someone and respond to their request if it compromises you in any way? Apply that shit here! You can still give someone unconditional and selfless love while respecting yourself and your boundaries. You come first, baby! 

Examples Of Conditional Love

“I did everything for you and all you’ve done is disappoint me.” 

“This is the thanks I get? After everything I’ve given you?” 

“I would think you’d respect my opinion more than that after all that I’ve given you!”

“My parents would be upset with me if I wasn’t doing well in school.” 

“My parents are upset with me because they don’t the person I’m dating.” 

“Our Dad yelled at us when we didn’t match his expectations.” 

“Grandma only s to talk to me when I’m doing well in life.” 

“My partner is upset with me because I want to become an artist instead of staying at my office job.”

“My best friend ignores me when I need them most, but always expects me to drop everything and help them.” 

“I get chastised if my opinions are even a little different from theirs.” 

How To Love Unconditionally, With Boundaries

It is totally 100% possible to love unconditionally while having boundaries for yourself and your partner. It helps both of you know what you need and expect from each other, and serves as a blueprint for how to go about your relationship.

And this isn’t just for romantic relationships. This is for allllll relationships. It might be hard to establish these boundaries with people, your parents or friends, if there is already a lot of history between you.

But boundaries are necessary in order to have a healthy and respectful relationship, no matter what the dynamic is. 

Be Transparent About Your Expectations

Be honest! It can be hard to tell people what we really want and need, but it’s necessary in order to have the other person respect your boundaries and wishes. They can’t know what they are unless you telllll them. 

Have a little sit down with them. Maybe pull out a glass of wine and say “Ok, I want us to have the healthiest relationship possible, so we need to know what the other person wants and needs,” then lay out your expectations for them.

If at any point this other person doesn’t respect your boundaries and expectations, then tell them! Don’t hold that shit in! Be honest about how that makes you feel and work together to correct it. (But the key is making sure that they don’t take advantage of you.

Remember what we said about that? Good!)

Learn To Listen 

Listening has to be a two-way street in any relationship! You can actively work to become a better listener so that you hear and know what your partner needs.

Listening helps the other person feel seen, heard, respected and cared for. What beautiful feelings to give to someone you love, right?! When we stop listening, communication breaks down and conflict starts to pop up.

And conflict leads to negative emotions, so we want to avoid that as much as we can. 

So, open up your ears and open up your heart because learning to love and listen is hella important!

Communicate In A Non-Defensive Way 

If you’ve been hurt by your partner, try to approach them in a calm and open manner. Learning to communicate in a healthy and effective way can be difficult when you feel so strongly about things. But conflict can’t be resolved when you both come in hot with emotions running high. That will only help create a defence spiral where the two of you start blaming the other for any issues. 

That’s uhh… that’s not going to get you anywhere. So, approach every tough conversation with patience and understanding. But also take no shit! It’s a fine line to walk, but we know you can do it!

Notice Control Tactics

If the other person in the relationship is trying to control, gaslight, or manipulate you, shut that shit dowwwwn. We know that it’s not possible to do this in every situation, because safety can be a real concern. But don’t let anyone treat you unfairly.

If this is happening, reach out to people around you, contact domestic violence organizations or safe houses in your area for advice or shelter, and reach out to friends and family for help. Keep your eyes peeled for any relationship red flags.

YOU ARE DESERVING OF LOVE AND RESPECT, and anyone who makes you feel less than isn’t willing to love you unconditionally. 

Share Power 

No one person should have the upper-hand in a relationship. That’s an unhealthy and abusive dynamic that can get unsafe really quickly. A relationship isn’t a competition, it’s about sharing your life with another person. There should be respect on both sides and an understanding that you both have value, and you both have to be open to listening and changing.

Unconditional love, simply put, is the kindest version of ourselves — but we don’t have to offer up this love without bounds. Unconditional love is the choice to love and respect each other every single day.

It doesn’t come without its difficulties, but when you get it right, it feels sooooo good. Love has the ability to improve our lives, benefit our mental health and help us become the best possible version of ourselves.

Life becomes happier, brighter and more exciting when you have loving people to share it all with.


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