It’s easy to love the idea of unconditional love, isn’t it? Who doesn’t want to be loved as we are, in spite of our flaws, and without any conditions? But is it really possible for anyone to love unconditionally?
The Meaning Of Unconditional Love
I think one of the biggest confusions with unconditional love is that most of us don’t know what it really means.
The first thing that often comes to mind is the love a parent has for their child. Naturally, a child will often misbehave and ignore their parents’ guidance; but even if a parent is upset or angry with their child, they will still love them. Although this isn’t always the case, this is an ideal scenario in a parent-child relationship.
In a nutshell, unconditional love means you love someone without any strings attached. You care about their happiness, and this isn’t ever affected by external factors. Plus, you don’t expect anything in return. You give your love freely to the person in question because you want to, and you don’t keep score.
It doesn’t imply forever, but it means that right now in this moment, you’re giving your love to them and it’s theirs to keep. And it’s important to love this way in our relationships, because it removes control and power dynamics.
Love Is Unconditional Always?
Real love for a partner or child can be unconditional, but this isn’t always the case. Love is not always unconditional. It depends largely on the two people in the relationship, how they view love, and how they choose to act and show up in that relationship.
But it’s important to explore unconditional love, and whether it’s always a positive state to love someone from.
Is Unconditional Love Healthy?
As we touched on earlier, it can be healthy to love someone without expectations. This is true love. If we love someone but expect something in return for that love, we’re using our affection as a tool to control.
While unconditional love can be a beautiful, selfless gift, it’s important to recognize that loving without any boundaries at all isn’t healthy. This is one of the ways a relationship can become toxic.
If you follow the idea of unconditional love explicitly, you might believe you should stay in a toxic relationship no matter what. But this is where it’s important to be crystal clear with the definition of unconditional love. It means to love someone regardless of circumstances, but not regardless of how they treat you.
For instance, if someone is being verbally or physically abusive towards you, lying or cheating, or stealing from you; it’s important to respect yourself and your happiness enough to walk away.
As human beings, we all have basic needs and desires in our relationships. We expect respect, kindness, understanding, and safety. When these needs are not met, it forces us to set boundaries in order to protect ourselves. That might mean distancing yourself or completely removing yourself from the relationship.
This causes some of us to feel guilt. We think that walking away means we’re being conditional with our love. But remember, that person does not owe you anything, but you do owe yourself kindness and respect. It’s okay to walk away from someone you love in situations like these because it’s important you take care of yourself first and foremost.
Love Without Boundaries = Codependent Love
They say that we teach others how we want to be treated. And I believe this to be true. It’s on us to show our partner, parents, children and friends how we expect to be treated.
If we fail to do this or ignore and excuse poor behavior, it tells the other person they can get away with treating us as they please, and will often lead to similar behavior in the future. This tips the scales and gives power to the other person in the relationship. It also means we no longer have an equal voice.
When we ignore our boundaries or fail to state them, we’re not offering unconditional love. What we’re really offering is codependent love, and dependance does not mean that love is unconditional!
So, What’s The Line Between Unconditional Love And Codependent Love?
When should you choose to love and stay with someone during struggles, mistakes and frustrations, and when does that turn into unacceptable behavior that you should walk away from? It can be a fine line.
It’s important that we do stick by our partner in times of hardship. This is key to any healthy, long-lasting relationship. But if the relationship dissolves into one that lacks kindness and respect, and is no longer meeting your basic needs, this is a strong indication that it’s time to let go and move on. Especially if you’ve communicated your feelings and seen no change in your partner.
Signs of Unconditional Love (With Healthy Boundaries)
On the other side of co-dependance, is healthy unconditional love. Here’re the signs that you have found that magical place in your relationship.
- You choose to forgive each other, and not bring up the past
- You’re able to tell the truth, even when it’s difficult
- Nobody picks fights or holds grudges
- You speak to each other with love and respect
- You give without expectations
- You can be yourself
- You feel deep empathy for each other
- You bring out the best in each other
You’ll know it’s unconditional love when both people feel like true equals in a partnership. When both people have a voice. When there is real love and kindness, and you can feel it. Unconditional love is when you’re on the same team, and you’ve always got each other’s back, without a price or payback. In this relationship, love is unconditional.