Why I Don’t Believe In Unconditional Love For Romantic Relationships 

Recently I declined the offer of a guest article, not for the usual reasons that the writing quality wasn’t great, or that it was simply meaningless, sales-motivated filler. The guest piece would have been entitled “Unconditional Love: A Key Ingredient To A Happy Relationship” – and I’m afraid I simply don’t agree with that sentiment at all. In fact, I don’t believe that unconditional love has a part in any romantic relationship.  

Allow me to explain.  

What Is Unconditional Love?  

Unconditional love, to me, means that it isn’t dependent on any terms or conditions in order to exist. If you love something or someone unconditionally, it doesn’t matter what changes or what happens, you’ll continue to love. It’s unconditional. There are no strings, no conditions, attached.  

Wikipedia has this to say: 

Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations, or love without conditions. This term is sometimes associated with other terms such as true altruism or complete love. Each area of expertise has a certain way of describing unconditional love, but most will agree that it is that type of love which has no bounds and is unchanging. It is a concept comparable to true love, a term which is generally used to describe love between lovers.  

Why Unconditional Love Has No Place In Romantic Relationships 

Relationships And The Myth Of Unconditional Love

Considering the above, it might seem strange that I believe that unconditional love has no place in romantic relationships. After all, wouldn’t it be idyllic to love your partner absolutely and completely, and to feel that they feel the same way back?  

Well, yes. But loving someone absolutely and completely often has intrinsic conditions. Therefore, it’s not unconditional. Would/should you still love them if they disrespected or abused you? Not to say that they ever would, but it’s always potentially possible, therefore it’s a condition of your ongoing love that they never do those things. I’m sure you can think of many other conditions that would break both your trust in a partner and your love of them.  

I’ve fallen out of love with several people and although I can be nostalgic for the times I did love them, I know that the love has not continued. There was very definitely an end to my love for them in a romantic, relationship way. The conditions under which I’d love them changed, I didn’t love them anymore, it was never unconditional love. That’s a very short and simplified version, but hopefully you understand my point.  

Does This Mean I Don’t Love My Partner? 

Relationships And The Myth Of Unconditional Love

I absolutely love my partner. Where we’re at now, I completely love him with all my heart. I’m not going to say I’d do anything for him, because that simply isn’t true. Anything which would require me to go against my personal boundaries or limits, whether in an everyday life or a sexual setting, is something I wouldn’t do, even if he asked or told me to. Happily, he wouldn’t ask or tell me to do those things, because we’ve spoken about our boundaries, I trust him not to, he doesn’t want to upset or hurt me in any way, and we love each other.  

My feelings about this issue are almost certainly influenced by my personal experiences. I’ve loved people previously who then broke my trust, and therefore lost my love. And I can’t believe, judging from their actions, that they truly loved me either. Whether it was crossing agreed boundaries, general disrespect, or all-out violent abuse (leading to broken bones as well as psychological trauma), something or things happened which ended the love. Completely.  

I’ve also been told by an ex-partner that they loved me unconditionally. This was said in order to try and reassure me, as I was very insecure in that relationship. My insecurities stemmed somewhat from myself, my own issues, not feeling good enough, interesting enough, attractive enough; but also due to their actions, playing on my insecurities, using them against me by a strange cycle of affection/neglect designed to crumble the confidence of a person while rendering them more and more dependent on any ounce of attention.  

Being told, then, that they loved me unconditionally, seemed a reassuring, loving, hopefully statement to say. In the end it meant absolutely nothing at all – they still acted in ways which proved that not only did they have little to zero respect for me, but they weren’t prepared to accept me for being the person I am. That’s certainly nothing like the unconditional love they promised existed. Of course, it’s also nothing like love at all. It was all self-serving manipulation.

Does Unconditional Love Even Exist? 

Yes, I believe that unconditional love does exist. This may come as a surprise, given my vehement outpourings above. I believe in unconditional love, but not as part of romantic relationships. I think a romantic relationship should absolutely always be conditional – based on the foundations and conditions of mutual trust, loyalty, honesty and the other facets which make up a happy and successful partnership. If those conditions aren’t met, the relationship usually doesn’t last too much longer. It’s conditional.  

I have unconditional love for my children. I grew them, I gave birth to them, they’re a part of me. They might be physically separate from me now, and growing up fast, but I know I will always absolutely and completely love them, no matter what. It’s not something I can even help. No matter what they do, what they believe, how they act in life, I’ll love them. They’re my children. It’s possible that they will or could do things that mean I don’t like them very much (although obviusly I hope not), but I’d still always love them. It’s a mother-child thing. 

What You Might Actually Mean By Unconditional Love 

Instead of saying that you love a romantic partner unconditionally, or expecting/demanding that they love you unconditionally, you might try focusing on other terminology instead. You love them so much. To the moon and back. You love them more than you’ve ever loved anyone, or more than handbags and high heels. Or Columbo reruns on a hangover. Whatever you’re into.   

I’m not writing the rulebook here, obviously; this is all just my opinion. But for me, personally, I’d rather have a completely open and honest relationship with my partner which didn’t have a glaringly erroneous statement at the heart of any affectionate communication.  

Relationships And The Myth Of Unconditional LoveMy continuing love for my partner is actually a testament to the fact that our love is conditional. Our love for each other, still going strong, means that our agreed conditions are still being met – and that’s a nice feeling. I don’t want him to love me unconditionally, I want him to see me as I am, to accept my flaws, hell, to get annoyed with me at times and for me to piss him off. But to love me anyway. As long as I don’t disrespect him, break his trust or otherwise fail one of our conditions. And I will love him, as long as he doesn’t break my trust, or is dishonest with me, or hurt me in any way, psychologically or other.  

So, “Unconditional Love: A Key Ingredient To A Happy Relationship”? No. Not in my opinion. This sounds like absolute blind love, blind trust, and promising that the blindness will continue forever. It’s insulting and potentially harmful. Instead, give me honest, aware, eyes-open-wide love with ongoing trust, communication and active consent.   

 

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The Truth About Love -P!nk

The truth about love is it’s nasty and salty
It’s the regret in the morning, it’s the smelling of armpits
It’s wings, and songs
And trees, and birds
It’s all the poetry that you ever heard
Terror coup d’etats, lifeline forget-me-nots
It’s the hunt and the kill
The schemes and the plots
The truth about love is it’s blood and it’s guts
Purebreds and mutts
Sandwiches without the crust
It takes your breath, cuts and leaves a scar
But those untouched never got never got very far
It’s rage and it’s hate
And a sick twist of fate
And that’s the truth about love
The truth about love

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