Okay, so what is unconditional love really? Is it a love without boundaries or consequences? No. Absolutely not. More like the opposite. The unconditional love we usually think of and talk about is a rather one-sided one. Namely, the one that's coming from yourself and is directed to the other person. Loving someone's true self and fully accepting all the humanness surrounding it. Wonderful, of course. And definitely an important part of unconditional love. But there are two more components that often get overlooked.
Unconditional love is incomplete without the presence of your full self
Love is not unconditional if you cannot be entirely yourself within the relationship. If you accept the other person in their entirety, but in the meantime are (secretly) modifying yourself, adjusting your boundaries and needs to fit those of the other person and/or hiding, disguising or magnifying parts of yourself, then the love between the two of you is not unconditional. Unconditional means that you can be yourself - without any heart palpitations - and that you are able to let yourself be supported and held in this authenticity (whether you totally adore yourself or not).
The third component of unconditional love
Lastly, along with all the above, unconditional love means living with a transparent heart - even in the hardest of moments. Whenever you’re afraid of being rejected or abandoned, whenever you feel ashamed or guilty (whether justified or not), be honest about what’s in your heart. Don’t close yourself off when times get tough. Keep communicating, keep listening, keep your heart as open as possible. By doing this (or at least trying to), you respect your connection with the other person - even if, right now, it doesn't (completely) feel or look the way you would like it to.
Connected in freedom
You can think of unconditional love as two true selves connected in freedom, not closing off their hearts when the going gets tough. That not only means accepting and embracing, but also being frank about, each other's humanness and the reality of the relationship.
What this looks like in practice
Unconditional love, thus, requires you to take up space, declare your boundaries and needs (even if you would’ve preferred that they didn't exist), and discuss, for example, when the relationship no longer feels nourishing (enough) to you. Truly connecting with each other means welcoming your own experiences in the here-and-now without judgment and trying to do the same for the other person. It makes for a free-flowing love.
What if your love is not unconditional right now?
Your love doesn't have to be unconditional for you to be in a happy relationship. There are no conditions attached to that. If both parties are happy, it's a successful relationship. Simple as that.
We all carry the baggage of our pasts with us and that usually means we have a lot to unlearn on the road towards unconditional love. The good news is that unconditional love originates and exists within you. So, if you'd like, you can, right this second, start practicing this - all by yourself.
Self-compassion as a tool for (more) unconditional love
If there is anything that helps you live more open-heartedly, it is self-compassion. Self-compassion helps you detach your self-worth from any condition or circumstance, making it so much easier to be (or return to) your authentic self.
Try to live and love with an open heart - open in acceptance and open in expression, inwardly and outwardly - and all your relationships, those with others, as well as the one with yourself and with life in general, will become increasingly loving and unconditional.
Tag: love & relationships