The 5 signs of unconditional love
Unconditional Love vs. Conditional Love
First things first, it’s necessary to clear up the distinction between conditional and unconditional love. This is important because it’s a division that’s been the site of much debate when it comes to pondering whether a romantic relationship can sustain unconditional love. As it happens, a lot of people would categorically say “no, it cannot”.
So why is that the case? Let’s look at conditional love for some answers. It’s a widely held belief that romantic bonds hinge on a contractual, or conditional, agreement between two people. It follows that you’re with your partner because you’ve mutually entered into an equal relationship, and certain conditions need to be met in order for it to be a functional and happy one. As soon as something is imbalanced, the relationship starts breaking down.
On the contrary, unconditional love supersedes the kind of exchange conditional love is based upon. It is infinite and doesn’t come unstuck when there’s been a ‘breach of contract’, i.e. someone fails to uphold their part of the emotional deal. Rather, it’s a pure, unrestricted love that’s given selflessly and received with certainty. Can this kind of love really exist between two (unrelated) people? We say it can, and the following five points demonstrate when it’s in evidence.
One of the fundamental presets of unconditional love is loving yourself. Being able to offer someone your unswerving affection pivots on whether or not you feel worthy of the same treatment. Akin to becoming a more self-confident person or improving your social skills, this demands that you are able to accept your limitations and celebrate your qualities. Berating yourself for not matching up to unrealistic ideals or succumbing to insecurities won’t work with unconditional love.
Moreover, if you know your strengths and are at peace with your weaknesses, you’re in a much better position to be able to help others reach a similar level. Having a strong self-esteem will help you bring positivity into the relationship. Because unconditional love is sometimes about dealing with strife, feeling secure in yourself will help you deal with difficulties and not take them to heart too dramatically.
Another attribute of unconditional love that follows on from seeing yourself as lovable is the ability to forgive. This may seem a little cryptic, but the ability to let go is linked to loving yourself. After all, it’s unlikely that someone with a solid sense of self-respect would allow a problem to fester away and cause them undue harm. It’s much more likely they’d drop it and focus their energy on resolving the issue.
In the context of a romantic relationship, this means being able to trust your partner and forgive them for any mistakes they’ve made. Continuing to love someone beyond their transgressions is the bread and butter test of unconditional love. Knowing your own imperfections and coming to terms with them means it’s much easier to accept another’s.
Equally, when you’re loved unconditionally your partner will reciprocate this forgiveness. This obviously doesn’t give you a free pass to misbehave, though it does mean that you should feel free to admit when things are going wrong, either in your own life or in the relationship, and work towards righting them together.
Warts and all
Don’t take the heading of this section too literally - hopefully you know what we mean! Unconditional love entails accepting your partner for who they are. There’s a distinct lack of judgment present; you realise that your partner has their issues and you’re able to see beyond them, homing in on support rather than criticism.
This also means that you’re comfortable with the fact that your partner had a life before meeting you. It’s possible that they may have gone through a divorce or have had children (or indeed both!). When you love someone unconditionally, you understand that their past experiences make them the full article you’re partnered with today. And that shouldn’t irk you, if they do there’s most likely something out of alignment.
When a partner loves you unconditionally you’ll feel completely at ease with their opinion, good or bad. This translates into being completely open and honest with your feelings and respecting them when they’re frank with you. Yes it’s not pleasant when loved ones pick up on our faults, but sometimes hearing the truth can hurt. Being at peace with this is a mainstay of unconditional love.
The right choice
Decision making is a central practice in any healthy relationship, and a collaborative one at that. What’s more, making sure those choices are premised on both kindness and fairness is imperative. It goes without saying that clear communication and awareness of each other’s needs are vital here. That said, sometimes unconditional love requires us to make decisions that run contrary to what our heart tells us.
If you’ve ever ended a relationship with someone, you’ll know that loving someone isn’t always about persevering and trying to make things work when it’s clearly in vain. There are times when it becomes necessary to realise when a relationship is unsalvageable and that the most loving gesture you can offer is letting go of someone.
Indeed, unconditional love isn’t an excuse to stay trapped in an unhealthy relationship, nor is it a reason to tolerate abusive or narcissistic behaviour. If your partner shares a similar sentiment, they’ll know what’s best for you and not be afraid to help you out. Calling you out if you’re engaging in destructive behaviour and pointing you in the right direction is a good example.
United we stand
The last of unconditional love’s attributes we’ll cover is perhaps the one that’s exalted the most; it’s sheer steadfastness. This is most commonly noted in reference to parent-child relationships – a parent’s love for their children is seen as the purest expression of the unconditional. That’s not to say that it cannot exist when it comes to two people who’re romantically attached, far from it in fact!
It’s no coincidence that one of the most profound matrimonial vows we make centres on this unshakeable commitment. ‘For better or worse, for richer and poorer, through sickness and in health’ is extolled as the marker of true love and is pretty much balanced on a categorical acceptance that you have to take the rough if you want to go the distance. Things will go wrong, that’s the nature of life; it’s how you respond to the challenge that counts.
You’ll only really touch upon this when the chips are down, but whatever life throws up you’ll know you’re loved unconditionally if your partner faces that adversity by standing by your side. This resolute assurance demolishes fear, and in doing so enables you to both accomplish whatever it is you’ve set out to achieve, both personally and as a team.
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