Is true love unconditional?
- A 2013 UCLA study found that a parent’s unconditional love can make children “not only emotionally happier but also less anxious.”
- Relationship expert April Masini points out four “tell-tale signs” of unconditional romantic love from your partner: they take care of you when you are sick; they are empathetic and loyal even when you make mistakes; they always support you even when it’s unpopular to do so; you are both vulnerable with each other.
- In his book, The Four Loves, author C.S. Lewis identified unconditional love as agape, a Greek term that means charity, separate from the other types of love such as affection, friendship, and erotic love.
- According to a Psychiatry Research study from 2009, maternal love and unconditional love share the same neural network.
True love is unconditional because true love forgives, is unselfish, and is always hopeful. True love is not always reciprocated, though, and it may become necessary to end a physical relationship with another for this reason, particularly if being together has become harmful. However, being physically apart does not mean that true love will stop flowing unconditionally from the heart.
When someone truly loves another, the willingness to forgive removes any conditions that might have extinguished true love. No human being is perfect. Unconditional true love recognizes this reality and requires accepting and forgiving the flaws of another. True love is also unconditional because those who truly love have no desire to restrict their love with selfish conditions and are focused on giving rather than receiving. Such unselfish true love is celebrated during the winter holiday season and can often be seen in the relationship between a parent and child.
Yet, parents who do conditionally love their children only demonstrate affection and approval when their expectations are first met. Research has clearly revealed that this kind of 'love' is very damaging to health and well-being. For parents and all who are truly in love, though, remaining hopeful enough to see the best in one another without conditions keeps the door of possibility open that anyone can still make a change for the better with real love and genuine support. Love is only really true when it is unconditional because conditions destroy the very essence of true love and replace it with something that is profoundly less instead.
People often confuse true love and unconditional love, especially in the romantic scenes we see in movies. But the two terms mean different things. True love is typically considered a form of romantic love shared between consensual partners. We see this between spouses, lovers, or even in unrequited love. On the other hand, unconditional love can manifest in platonic (like between friends) or familial (love between family members) relationships. For example, a mother may love her child unconditionally, but it won't be called 'true love.' Similarly, you can love your friends unconditionally, but you won't say it is true love.
Unconditional love is also long-lasting, sometimes for a lifetime. True love, meanwhile, is fleeting. People fall in and out of true love several times during their life, sometimes even in the same relationship. Two people in a relationship may fall out of 'love' but still unconditionally care for each other throughout their lives.
This happens because true love is a passive experience. It is something that happens to you, or you happen to find it in life. It is not necessarily something you get up and do. But unconditional love is a choice. You choose to actively love and emotionally invest in someone despite the challenges that arise. True love is fleeting, it changes and fades, but unconditional love is an active choice that two people repeatedly make as long as they are alive and capable.
When we talk about being 'blinded by love,' we refer to the situation where true love can sometimes cloud judgment and lead people to make dangerous decisions, like staying with an abusive partner. Unconditional love is more conscious and decisive, helping both parties to live happier, healthier lives.