There’s no better feeling than loving someone or being loved. However, is it possible to love freely and without condition?
Unconditional Love, the selfless act of loving someone with full acceptance and without expecting anything in return. You might equate this type of love with the love you have for your parents or your children. You may associate it with the couples you see in a romantic movie or hear about it in a love song on the radio.
Wanting unconditional love is an understandable desire that you may seek. However, is this something attainable in real life or is it just in the fairytales?
Gaining a deeper understanding of what unconditional love is (and isn’t) may help you find a healthy connection in your own life.
Unconditional love is when you love someone no matter what they do and have no expectation of repayment. It means you love someone for who they are, with no strings attached.
This simple act of loving someone unconditionally without any concern of how it may benefit you may activate the same parts of the brain that lights up when you show romantic and maternal love according to 2009 research.
In other words, unconditional love can benefit you even though you’re not expecting anything in return when giving love to others.
Signs of unconditional love
There are some clear signs that may help you recognize whether it’s un unconditional love or not. David Tzall, a licensed psychologist residing in New York City says to look out for these telltale signs.
- You’re accepted for your faults without a desire to change you.
- Your needs are paramount and viewed as valid.
- The other person does not try to make you feel small.
- The relationship is reciprocal and not transactional.
Unconditional love can be good for you. Research from 2021 has found that both giving and receiving love can play a crucial role in your psychological well-being, especially later in life.
Research from 2010 suggests receiving unconditional love can also have an impact on your emotional well-being. Findings indicate that children who receive high levels of nurture and love from their parents at a young age tend to have less distress in adulthood as well as fewer mental health symptoms.
Unconditional love can also provide a sense of security. “You are free to be yourself and express your needs without fear of judgment,” explains Tzall. You know someone is on your side and looking out for your best interests. You’re also secure that they won’t leave during rough times.
“Unconditional love promotes trust, and trust and security go hand in hand.”
Healthy unconditional love can exist, says Tzall. It may be seen in the form of support while still having boundaries, such as “I love you and support you no matter what. However, I cannot continue to help you if you don’t get help for your addiction.”
Unconditional love can also be unhealthy if it exists without boundaries. Feelings of love can sometimes cause us to be blind to what’s really going on. If you are showing someone unconditional love, but there is no mutual care and respect in that relationship, this is unhealthy unconditional love, explains Tzall.
Loving unconditionally requires reciprocity. While it may feel great to offer love to someone without expectations, it can also lead to feelings of depletion. It’s important not to neglect your own needs, while love may require some sacrifice, you shouldn’t give up everything for others.
You should also ensure that your person deserves your love. If someone treats you unkindly or is abusive, continuing to give unconditional love to that person can be damaging.
It’s important to have some level of expectation for others, even if that expectation is as simple as being treated kindly. This can protect you and ensure you are giving your love to the right people.
If you’ve never received unconditional love, then it may be hard to give it. However, some strategies can help you learn to love wholeheartedly.
Give yourself love first
Finding unconditional love starts with caring about yourself first and practicing self-acceptance, says Tzall. “It can be challenging to accept a deep love of another if you do not give yourself enough grace.”
Additionally, if you don’t love yourself first, you may be more likely to accept toxic love into your life because you don’t recognize what you truly deserve. When you know who you are and what your needs are, and develop a sense of self-worth, healthy unconditional love is more likely to find you.
Once you understand this, you’ll be better able to discern between healthy and unhealthy love and accept unconditional love when it arrives rather than searching for it.
Practice unconditional love
Practice how to love without wanting anything in return. Each day, do something for someone else with no strings attached. It can be telling someone you love them without waiting for them to respond or letting someone in while in a traffic jam without expecting a wave of thank you.
This simple act will not only give you pleasure but help you learn how to give unconditional love.
Learn how you express your love
Loving unconditionally is not just how you feel, but how you act. Pay attention to how you express your love to others. If you feel like the other person owes you something, then you are not loving them unconditionally.
Unconditional love is a type of love that exists without bounds. However, to love freely and without condition, you must also love without the expectation of repayment.
When you think of unconditional love, you may think of the love a parent has for a child or the romantic love that you see in a movie. This type of love accepts you and doesn’t try and change you. It doesn’t make you feel small and is reciprocated.
Unconditional love can be healthy and good for you as long as it has boundaries. It can be good for your psychological and emotional well-being. It can also be unhealthy when it exists without boundaries.
Finding unconditional love starts with giving yourself love first. Practicing loving without expectation, along with paying attention to how you express love to others may help you find unconditional love in your life.
If you’ve never received or given unconditional love before and want to dig deeper into exploring love and relationships, then you may benefit from speaking with a mental health professional.