Photo courtesy of David Laporte
Unconditional love is considered by many to be the ultimate of all affections, a love that knows no bounds and cannot be broken. A concept sometimes referred to as ‘mother’s love’, this type of bond is typically only found in extremely long-term committed relationships and among close (usually immediate) family members.
Should we love our family unconditionally?
Of course we should. In fact, without the security of unconditional love, most children will not be able to thrive. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed that firsthand. I personally whole-heartedly adore the two beings I helped to create. Each one of them has flaws, but to me, the mix of all of their traits (the good and the less-than-good) combine to make two people I love without bounds.
That sentiment generally holds true for all family members. You can pick your friends and your nose, and you can pick many a rose, but you can’t pick your family. No matter how many fights you and your brother have, at the end of the day, he’s still your brother.
What about romantic unconditional love?
While it’s true that there are people involved in no-holds-barred romantic relationships, it’s also true that those relationships are undeniably doomed. Those people who present others with the gift of their unconditional devotion often do so at the cost of their own emotional well-being. They can also lose their sense of self, making them dependant on their significant other for validation.
The bottom line is this: all healthy relationships must exist with some conditions and boundaries. In relationships with no boundaries, or where basic conditions like respect are missing, eventually the love vanishes and all that’s left are invisible lines that were crossed and unspoken needs that weren’t met.
Loving someone despite their physical appearance, ethnicity, financial status, medical conditions and other similar factors that may be out of their control is about as close to unconditional love as you should get. Instead, you should be on the lookout for some basic telltale signs that your relationship is headed in the right direction:
- Mutual respect: You should give and receive respect in a sound relationship. If your significant other regularly disrespects you, your future together doesn’t look promising.
- Trust: Neither party in the relationship should give the other one a reason to doubt their word. Period.
- Compatibility: Do you have fun together (in and out of the bedroom)?
- Good communication: Even solid relationships have bumps along the way. Happy couples have staying power if they can effectively share, listen, and problem solve together.
- Equality: Resentment builds quickly when one spouse or partner feels overworked and unappreciated.
- Room for personal growth: Healthy teamwork aside, the most satisfied couples are the ones who allow eachother to strive for and achieve personal goals.
- Security: The ability to be your true self without worrying what your partner will think is one example of how happy couples make each other feel safe and secure.
Requiring your significant other to meet your needs is something that all smart, self-confident people should be doing. Be sure to honor your partner’s wants and needs, too. Save the unconditional love for members of your family tree. When it comes to romantic love, conditions are required.