Feb 142014
 

These signs will help you understand what unconditional love is, and if it exists in your relationship. If you don’t feel loved unconditionally, then something has to change. And it’s not you.

what is unconditional loveThe only way to love someone unconditionally is to first learn how to love yourself unconditionally. If you struggle to love and be loved, read Receiving Love: Transform Your Relationship by Letting Yourself Be Loved. Learn how giving and receiving unconditional love are related, and how you can improve your relationship.

“To be brave is to love someone unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. To just give. That takes courage, because we don’t want to fall on our faces or leave ourselves open to hurt.” – Madonna.

Before you can hope or expect your partner to love you unconditionally, you need to love him first. This makes you vulnerable, and it’s a completely unselfish type of love. And that’s what unconditional love is: unselfish, hopeful, and dangerous.

What is Unconditional Love?

There is a difference between a mother’s unconditional love and a partner’s unconditional love. Your mom loves you no matter what you do – even if you cheat on your taxes, cheat on your spouse, or cheat in Scrabble. Your partner, on the other hand, loves you with a different type of “unconditional love.”

Your partner’s love may be based on how you treat him. If you’re faithful, communicative, supportive, and loving, then you’ll love him unconditionally. Those are signs of unconditional love that communicate respect and love in its deepest, most honorable form. What is unconditional love? An action, not just a feeling.

Loving someone unconditionally means not trying to change who they are. That is the simplest, purest definition of unconditional love in romantic relationships. I think it’s a better definition than “loving someone no matter what”, which is more of a maternal definition of unconditional love.

Your mom will love you no matter what you do…but she may try to change you because she believes she knows what’s best for you. That’s what a mother’s unconditional love is. For example, my mom often tells me what to do because she genuinely thinks she knows best. My husband, on the other hand, rarely tells me what to do because he accepts me for who I am.

A partner’s unconditional love is about acceptance. I think that is how we should love our partners. I don’t believe we should practice our mothers’ type of unconditional love in our intimate relationships.

Signs of Unconditional Love

Equality. Your partner treats you the way he wants to be treated. I’m listing this as the first sign of unconditional love because my friend is in an emotionally abusive marriage. Her husband calls her names, doesn’t care about her feelings, and verbally manipulates and controls her. Their relationship is not based on equality, and I don’t believe she should extend unconditional love to him because he treats her like dirt. He would never talk to himself the way he talks to her.

Acceptance. You don’t try to change your partner’s habits, personality, work, style, or way of being in the world. You love him for who he is. That is the essential answer to the ‘what is unconditional love’ question: accepting your partner for who he is. And vice versa. Acceptance and unconditional love have to co-exist.

Freedom and authenticity. My two favorite things in the world – freedom and authenticity – are also signs of unconditional love! What is the point of loving someone if you aren’t free to be yourself? It’s painful to be in a relationship in which you’re pretending to be someone or something you’re not.

what is unconditional loveSupport. I believe my husband loves me unconditionally because he is supportive of my goals, plans, and dreams. He doesn’t try to change me, or re-create me in his image. He’s not the absolute perfect example of unconditional love (Jesus Christ is), but I feel loved unconditionally by him.

Communication. My last sentence describes how I feel in my marriage. I feel unconditionally loved – my husband tells and shows me he loves me – so I feel prepared to define what unconditional love is. I wouldn’t feel loved if my husband didn’t somehow communicate that to me. I don’t think this is the most important sign of unconditional love, but it’s really important! If we can’t communicate our love, we can’t feel loved.

My thoughts on what unconditional love is may not resonate with you. Or, you may be in a relationship that you’re confused about. I can think of a hundred questions that you may be struggling with – such as my friend’s struggle with loving an abusive man. She wants to love him unconditionally, so she stays in the marriage. She is sacrificing her life, self-esteem, self-confidence, and even her children because she believes that is what unconditional love is. She’s wrong.

Unconditional love shouldn’t cause you harm. It may be painful, since all relationships require work and sacrifice, but unconditional love doesn’t destroy you. On the contrary, a sign of unconditional love is feeling stronger, energized, and happier than you were before.

Here’s a quote about unconditional love that should apply to all relationships: “Accept the children the way we accept trees—with gratitude, because they are a blessing—but do not have expectations or desires. You don’t expect trees to change, you love them as they are.” Isabel Allende.


Fix Your Marriage

If you’re still wondering what unconditional love is, read 8 Signs He Doesn’t Love You.

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What is Unconditional Love? Signs and Secrets
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A list of signs will help you understand what unconditional love is, and if it exists in your relationship. If you don’t feel loved unconditionally, then something should change.

  2 Responses to “What is Unconditional Love? Signs and Secrets”

  1. Hello Lark,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing your experience with me! I’m glad to meet you.

    Have you talked to your partner about how his comments make you feel? Before I got married, my boss told me, “Start as you mean to go.” By that, she meant that from the very beginning, I should structure my relationship and my life the way I want it to be in 10 years. It was awesome advice — especially because it is very, very difficult to change a pattern once its set. It’s far easier to change a behavior before it gets “set.”

    Sharing how you feel when your partner criticizes you isn’t about punishing him (unless that’s your intention, which I think it’s not). Sharing your reaction is responding appropriately to his words and actions. If you don’t say something now, it will get worse. Right now you’re in the honeymoon stage – you’re both on your best behavior. He will get more critical, especially if you let him get away with the little things now.

    I know how exciting it is to fall in love, and how secure it feels to be in a relationship. But, I urge you to slow down. You say you love him…but can you really love someone after 3 months? I believe love takes time, and is built on experiences, arguments, struggles, ups, downs, and even spirituality.

    Maybe it’d be good to take a step back, and try to see him objectively. He may be a lovely man who doesn’t realize how critical he’s being. How open is he to responding to your feelings? Now’s the time to find out.

    I hope this helps, and wish you all the best. Talk to him. If you can’t talk to him now, then you’re setting the stage for no honest discussions later.

    In peace and passion,
    Laurie

  2. Hi Laurie,
    I’ve been reading your articles this morning and you seem not only knowledgeable but down-to-earth. Thanks for writing with such clarity and warmth.

    Here’s my question: I’m in a 3-month-old relationship with a man who seems… well, not perfect because nobody is perfect… but I feel like he is my “perfect” fit. Everything about our relationship has felt safe thus far– even when we’re in a disagreement, it feels good because we are being so honest and considerate of each other’s feelings.

    However, lately he has become really critical of me– how I dress, my home, and my work. He isn’t ever rude and everything is said kindly, but it still hurts because it tends to make me consider ways I can change these things to please him…. then I snap out of it and realize that I like myself and my life just fine!

    I don’t want to “punish” him for sharing his opinions but also, frankly, I wish it would stop. I could certainly find things about him to criticize but I refrain because I love him.

    Do you have any suggestions for how to deal with this?

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