What is Unconditional Love?

It is love that is given with no expectations in return. Unconditional love is affection without limitations, and love without conditions. Showing love, being loving, and expressing love no matter what, defines unconditional love.

It involves being appreciative, compassionate, and understanding even during negativity and disagreement. From a psychology viewpoint, it is essential in understanding emotional well-being, making a healthy relationship, and attachment styles.

“At the very heart of our experience of being human, each of us has an intuitive sense of the value of unconditional love”. – John Welwood

Unconditional Love Theories

Carl Rogers used the term “unconditional positive regard” which highlights our needs for self-disclosure, genuineness, authenticity, empathy, and acceptance. This differs from unconditional love in the sense that there does not need to be feelings of affection behind the attitude. The first mention of the term Unconditional love was created by a German psychologist Erich Fromm in 1934. I imagine the concept has been known and described before this in many ways. Fromm associated the term with motherly love, as a mother would love her child regardless of his or her actions. Alternatively, he describes fatherly love as being conditional, and loving only on the terms of accomplishment and good command.

Attachment Theory developed by psychologist John Bowlby, describes unconditional love as being given by caregivers to help build secure attachment in their children and provides a solid foundation for healthy emotional development.

It also helps to develop the ability to unconditionally give and receive love throughout one’s life. Unconditional love encourages emotional well-being. It helps those to form long lasting and stronger relationships with one another when embracing vulnerabilities and imperfections. Partners who strive to build a foundation within an environment of acceptance, understanding, and empathy for one another promotes long term satisfaction within the relationship.

Unconditional love and Relationships

Unconditional love promotes feelings of safety within a relationship. It involves being able to express oneself freely and convey your needs without the fear of being judged. Knowing your partner is committed to you and loving you no matter what the future brings is a beautiful thing. There is a need for the definition of unconditional love to be expanded on when it comes to romantic relationships. As much as you love someone unconditionally, this does not mean the relationship is always healthy for you. In order for love to continue and have a healthy relationship there has to be mutual respect. Unconditional love does not mean “you have to put up with me, no matter what my actions are”. Unconditional love does not equal unconditional tolerance.

Individuals describe loving their partners based upon their qualities and unique traits. We are often programmed to love conditionally. Loving your partner unconditionally involves accepting them for who they truly are. The satisfaction from unconditional love should come from not what we receive but giving this to the other person. Unconditional love does not keep score. While this is a beautiful feeling it is important to understand that just because you have unconditional love for someone, does not mean that you should not let the relationship go should it be hurting you or have no boundaries.

We can practice unconditional love in our relationships through our everyday actions. Pay attention to how you express your love for your partner. Don’t let the little hassles of the day affect how you interact with one another. Be mindful in the present moment with them. Each day you can do a little something for your partner without wanting anything in return. Express your love for them whether it be through words or actions such as cooking them their favorite meal, or simply giving them a back rub at the end of their workday, without expecting something in return. We can all practice small acts of unconditional love with our partners each and every day. Not only can we practice showing acts of unconditional love with our partner, but we can also practice this for ourselves. Unconditional self- love allows us to live our best life with a sense of peace, and wholeness.

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