When we think about what we want in relationships, we often think about 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 examples of it so we can gain a better understanding of how to nurture better relationships.
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.
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, it's 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 compare 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.
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 like 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 kind of 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.
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.
Whilst there is a 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 like, and I'll still be here.”
For example, you may end up with a partner who:
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 be.
This brings us to the concept of 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 with your life, positive regard allows you to disengage when you're being harmed.
While positive regard sounds like a healthy version of unconditional love, you might be wondering what it looks like in practice.
In brief, it looks like 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.
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 like repeating positive affirmations and learning how to journal 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
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.
Given that open, compassionate communication is the cornerstone of unconditional love, and as an empath, this 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.
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 like 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?
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 know how to 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.