Imagine this, you are sick of your 9-to-5 job. You realize that your dream of being a chef at your own restaurant is slowly getting buried under the pressure of a mortgage and other responsibilities. One day your partner overhears you talking to a friend about it. That night they surprise you with a chef hat and say, “Quit now. I will take care of our home.” That right there is one of the first signs of unconditional love in a relationship – the love that gives you the strength to sacrifice for the sake of your loved one’s happiness.
We all crave this kind of love that comes without the rider any ifs and buts. A connection that is all about loving your partner no matter what and being honest with them. Research shows that people who rank higher on the unconditional love measurement scale tend to provide more social support to their partners and have a comparatively more satisfying dating and marital life.
Yes, in fiction, unconditional love is the purest form of love in which no external factors can tamper with a person’s feelings for their significant other. But realistically, is it sustainable at all? Won’t it be emotionally exhausting to love someone without expecting anything in return, you may wonder, or, “How do I make sure that my partner loves me unconditionally?” Well, your arguments are on point and we’re here to address all your dilemmas and doubts about unconditional love.
What Is Unconditional Love In A Relationship?
We all know that love and infatuation are different. But unconditional love is another dimension altogether. So, what is unconditional love? In simple words, agape love is all about accepting and loving a person as they are. It’s an overwhelmingly intense feeling you foster for a beloved person that doesn’t change no matter what the circumstances.
They might be your childhood best friend, a sibling, or a significant other. Irrespective of the nature of your relationship with them, whether this person is with you or miles away, or whether they’re aware of your feelings or not, the selfless love deeply seated in your heart will lead you to put their best interest first and yourself second. Such a dynamic always comes with a loving without any expectation clause.
When there is unconditional love between two romantic partners, their connection isn’t governed by any eligibility criteria or a relationship agreement. You wouldn’t even think about imposing any restrictions or conditions on your partner. Age, looks, and bank balance would be mere variables that won’t bother you anymore.
Mutual respect, selfless acts, complete honesty, and the power of forgiveness go hand in hand with this form of absolute love. And most importantly, the ability to handle rejection – they may not feel the same way about you, but no unkind words or refusal would ever stop you from loving them irrespective of the pain it causes you.
The moment we talk about unconditional love examples, the first thought that comes into mind is our love for our parents and vice versa. In fact, studies show that if a child has a non-abusive, positive relationship with their parents, it lowers the chances of multi-system health risks in adulthood. However, it’s possible (if not easy) to find an ideal partner with whom you can share a similar bond of love and care, and if you stay with us, we’d take you through the nuances of unconditional love.
How does unconditional love make you feel: emotional benefits of unconditional love
“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with their heart and soul, there is no such thing as separation.” – Rumi
Such beautiful quotes about unconditional love make it seem like a utopian dream until you experience such strong emotions for someone. Just a gentle reminder here – as gratifying as true love is, it can also put you through an emotional hell, especially if you are the giver in a romantic relationship. So, here’s how unconditional love can boost or affect your mental well-being:
- For the giver: It gives you a sense of empowerment and security because you are in charge of your feelings. There’s nothing anyone can ever say or do to change them. This dream-like state transforms into reality when your love is reciprocated. Although the negative aspects of unconditional love can be soul-crushing if the person you love takes advantage of your feelings and mistakes them as a weakness. So, you may shower your love on them all you want but you shouldn’t overlook the importance of emotional boundaries, and that holds for every relationship.
- For the receiver: Knowing that there’s one person in this world who would be there by your side through thick and thin, who doesn’t blatantly judge you for your flaws, who can forgive you when you mess up big time is immensely comforting. It makes you more confident and self-assured. Their companionship helps broaden your perspective and be the bigger person sometimes.
Related Reading: 8 Keys To Stay In Love Forever
12 Signs Of Unconditional Love In A Relationship
Steven and Josie had been dating for a few years and they recently moved in together. Everything was going so well just when Josie found out she had been diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s. She told Steven, “Let’s break up. You shouldn’t have to go through this.” He smiled and shook his head: “Do you really think I would leave you alone when you need me the most? You’re my world and I’m not going anywhere.”
That right there is one of the finest examples of unconditional love. However, just like Josie, you may not realize that your partner loves you unconditionally even after being with them for years. But when it finally becomes evident in their actions, you find a different level of strength to fight for the relationship and give your sweetheart every bit of attention and love they deserve. More than anything, you feel so precious and lucky!
Unconditional love is rare and beautiful. It can change the course of your relationship and make it last forever. So, if you have the slightest doubt about the gravity of your partner’s feelings for you, these 12 signs of unconditional love in a relationship will bring you much-needed clarity:
1. They take care of you in sickness and in health
If you are unwell or dealing with an illness, only a person who loves you genuinely and truly would go out of his/her way to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. True love isn’t only about sharing your happiness but also taking care of you when you need it the most. Your partner getting you some homemade soup garnished with warmth and affection when you’re under the weather or holding back your hair as your hurl are the simplest yet most telling unconditional love examples.
Those who stick with us even when we aren’t at our best (physically or emotionally) are our people. You know how we’re all at our ugliest and most disgraceful when we’re sick. If your partner doesn’t leave your side throughout the week you are down with flu, we think you can count on them in times of bigger setbacks.
2. Them supporting your dreams is a sign of unconditional love in a relationship
No matter how different your outlooks and goals are, someone who loves you without any condition will always stand up for your causes and support your ambitions. Even if your fields of work aren’t similar, they will encourage you to follow your passions and be your top cheerleader.
Suppose, you’re in the field of financial consultancy but your partner doesn’t understand a thing about it. You have applied for a prestigious fellowship at a firm abroad. Would they be against you leaving the country or would they assure you that they have full faith in their abilities? A wise partner would choose the latter and if your significant other does the same for you, know that they are a keeper.
3. They handle your vulnerable side
When you’re going through a rough time at the office or in your personal life and you become a complete mess, your partner doesn’t instantly start dodging your calls. They discuss the problem and help you calm your nerves and think rationally. They are always there to cheer you up after every meltdown. And therein lies the importance of unconditional love – recognizing that a relationship can’t be sunshine and rainbows all the time. In fact, it’s the rainy days that bring out the true colors of a partner.
Related Reading: 17 Signs Of True Love From A Woman
4. They forgive you if you mess up
We are all fallible and we make mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes are pretty serious, but unconditional love has the power to help us sail through them too. When your partner values forgiveness in a relationship and is capable of letting go of the little issues or even serious grudges, you won’t have to second-guess their feelings for you.
They love you holistically and wholeheartedly, warts and all. They accept your flaws just as they embrace the delightful aspects of your personality. They choose to forgive you for your missteps while helping you evolve into a better person. This does not give you a license to keep messing up and hurt them in the process. Show some gratitude for their presence in your life because if you lose them, you will regret it forever.
5. They put your needs above theirs
Let’s face it. A movie date night at home is incomplete without a couple fighting over which one to watch. A partner who unconditionally loves you will first argue with you over the movie genre, but will eventually give in just to make you happy.
That’s what people do in love – they hold your needs and desires in high esteem, even ahead of their own wishes. If you are lucky enough to have someone like this in your life, make sure you return the love your partner deserves. After all, healthy relationships are all about equal reciprocation.
6. They can set aside their ego and say ‘sorry’
Excessive ego and pride have no place in happy relationships. At times, you have got to ascend from that godly pedestal and accept your mistakes or at least be open to conflict resolution. Or else you’d be left to contend with a huge pile of resentment stacking up between you and your partner.
When you get into a heated argument, your partner will be the one to calm down first and try to make things right again. Even if it isn’t their fault, he/she won’t shy away from being the bigger person and apologizing to solve the problem at hand. They know that the relationship is more important than contesting over who is right or wrong. To them, being with you matters the most. Now, if their ability to set aside their ego and apologize is a quality you admire in your bae, their love for you must be absolutely wholesome.
7. What does unconditional love feel like? Like being treated with respect
A relationship can survive against all odds if the partners have been able to develop respect for each other over the years. There are many ways of expressing respect, and this is a cornerstone value of unconditional love. How can you love someone irrevocably without having an intrinsic sense of regard for the person they are?
So, if your partner does the following things, it’s a signs that they have unwavering respect for you in their heart:
- They treat you with respect both in front of your friends and family and in your private space
- They always ask for and take your opinion into account
- They try to fulfill your emotional, social, and physical needs
- They never breach your privacy nor do they mistrust you
- They are mindful of their language even in the middle of an argument
- They don’t attack your your weaknesses to make you feel worse about yourself
Related Reading: 11 Relationship Qualities That Are a Must Have For A Happy Life
8. They see your full potential
Even when you doubt your abilities and potential, this person always steps up to remind you of what you are capable of. It is because they know you inside out. They know how important your dreams and ambitions are to you. A person who loves you unconditionally will never want you to give up on something you’ve worked hard for or always dreamed of.
They magically see your full potential. And we all need that occasional push, right? You know, as a child, I loved dancing to bits. But I could never really gather the courage to enroll in a dance school because I thought I wasn’t good enough. After all these years, my crazy partner motivated me immensely and said I had to at least try! Well, guess what? I got accepted and I couldn’t be happier to be living my childhood dream.
9. They are selfless
Do you remember the story of The Gift of the Magi? If not, here’s how it goes – a poor couple decides to give each other secret presents for Christmas. However, they didn’t have enough money so the wife sells her long, beautiful hair, which she loved a lot, to buy a platinum chain for her husband’s watch.
Her husband, on the other hand, sells his watch, his only prized possession, to buy his wife a beautiful set of combs for her hair. The point of my telling you this story is to identify the acts of selflessness. People who have faith in their love often don’t think twice about making sacrifices in a relationship just to see the smile on their partner’s face.
10. They don’t expect anything in return: The most important sign of unconditional love
My friend Marshall once fell in love with an older woman. She could never commit to him due to several personal issues but that never stopped Marshall from doing everything in his power to sustain a healthy relationship for as long as they were together. Even though they knew they didn’t have a future together, Marshall gave his all to the relationship and continued loving her even after they parted ways. Doesn’t that break your heart a little?
One of the most beautiful things about unconditional love is not expecting anything in return. Your partner may make you happy with little gestures but would never expect you to return the favor. Even if you don’t acknowledge their gestures, they will let it go. After all, pure love cannot be transactional!
11. Unconditional love example: They are proud of your success
Imagine you and your partner are both in the same profession and are applying for a dream job. You get in but your partner doesn’t. They will be sad for sure but their eyes beaming with pride for your accomplishment will override this feeling of disappointment over their own failure. Celebrating each other’s success is another important sign of unconditional love, especially when things are going south for one of you.
Related Reading: 13 Ways To End An Argument Without Apologizing And End The Fight
12. They’ve always got your back
Yes, we know you are strong enough to fight your own battles. But when a stranger passes a sexist remark at you and your bae shows them their place, it makes your heart skip a beat, right? Having someone to make you feel taken care of is bliss. If your partner protects your secrets, drives you home safe after you get tipsy at a party, or becomes your strongest support system at a bad time, they truly love you with everything they’ve got. Don’t let them slip away from your life.
“Do I love someone unconditionally?” – Take this quiz to find out
Now that we are on the same page about what is unconditional love in a relationship and its signs, let’s figure out whether your unfathomable feelings for a person indicate a selfless everlasting connection. You don’t necessarily have to be in a romantic partnership with them. But if your love is true, no strings attached shouldn’t be a matter of concern. This quiz is the quickest way to be sure of your feelings. If your answer to at least six of these is yes, you are a part of the unconditional love tribe:
- You are okay with the fact that they are not your girlfriend/boyfriend and might walk away from your life one day. Yes/No
- You are in love with their soul and not only their attractive physical features. Yes/No
- You can’t be mad at them for long and end up forgiving them no matter what. Yes/No
- You never compare them with anyone or feel interested in other potential romantic partners. Yes/No
- You don’t think twice before canceling important engagements if they call you with an emergency. Yes/No
- In your mind, you see a long, happy future with them. Yes/No
- You are just happy being their support system. Yes/No
- They are your comfort zone and you can easily open up to them. Yes/No
- Nothing makes you happier and more proud than to see them succeed. Yes/No
- You don’t stand in their way even if you don’t agree with them on certain matters. Yes/No
How to Show Unconditional Love – Dos and Don’ts
“I love you unconditionally” – it’s a very strong statement, easier said than done. Losing your identity, voice, and self-respect in the process of offering undivided attention and affection cannot be beneficial for any relationship or a love-lorn individual. Despite what your heart wants you to do, following a few strategies will help you stay sane and navigate a happy and healthy relationship with your bae. Here are some dos and don’t to bear in mind so that you don’t lose yourself in the process of loving someone else unconditionally:
|1. Practice open and transparent communication style||1. Don’t ignore the underlying problems in the relationship for the sake of love|
|2. Let your partner know that you will be there on the good days and the bad||2. Don’t neglect your own emotional needs in a relationship|
|3. Make sure the power dynamic in the relationship is equal||3. Unconditional love cannot be a reason behind tolerating physical or mental abuse|
|4. Remember, you can criticize your partner when required without being disrespectful||4. You don’t have to blindly agree with everything they say to show your love|
Related Reading: 30 ½ Facts About Love That You Can Never Ever Ignore
What unconditional love isn’t? – Unhealthy Forms Of Love To Watch For
The underlying meaning of conditional love is: “I will love you only if you do what I think is appropriate.” In such dynamics, your partner deems you worthy of love only when you fulfill certain conditions. For instance, my friend Gwen’s boyfriend was affectionate toward her only when she took care of all the household chores and left him alone with his PlayStation. It is much like a reward system. This kind of love can chip away at your self-esteem by making you feel like you aren’t good enough. So, here’s what unconditional love isn’t:
- Scorekeeping between partners
- Having the same fights over and over again
- More judgment and less acceptance
- Trying to control each other’s every step or action
- Fraught with signs of insecurity
- Unconditional love means loving someone without any clauses, time limits, or expectations of having a romantic relationship with them
- This person will be your top priority at all times
- It can be misconstrued as a weakness and have destructive consequences
- You don’t stand in their way of happiness or their personal choices
- No one should suffer in silence in the face of abuse or humiliation just because it’s coming from the person they love unconditionally
We can’t plan to fall hopelessly for someone or wait around in life looking for unconditional love. We can only hope to nurture this love with care when it comes knocking at our door. Once you find your share, cherish what you have and acknowledge your partner for all that they do for you. And if you feel in your heart such overwhelming feelings for a person, don’t keep it a secret. There’s nothing more beautiful than hearing back those three magical words from the love of your life. Good luck!
This article has been updated in Oct 2022