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Unconditional Love: What It Is & Isn’t, 37 Signs You’ve Felt It & Steps to Find It

Do you know what unconditional love is? We all think we know, but many of us haven’t experienced it before. So, here’s everything you need to know.

unconditional love

How many of us have actually heard the phrase “unconditional love”? Better yet, how many of us honestly know how to love unconditionally? Not many of us, and it’s sad that the world has forgotten about it.

Unconditional love is what fuels the idea of love. Most of us are searching for love, waiting for that moment to happen. 

But when we are given it, we screw up. It’s not that we wanted to screw up, but we simply just don’t know how to handle love.

Now with online dating apps like Tinder, we’re constantly provided with more options, comparing who will give us more attention, and when we don’t like it, we swipe left.

This has made us paranoid, leaving us to test each other’s love. In the process, we have lost the idea of unconditional love. [Read: Special ways that true love sets itself apart]

But this type of love is unlike any other. You can have it with friends, family, and a romantic partner. 

However, unconditional love can be tricky to spot if you don’t know what to look for. So, let’s cover what you should be looking for. [Read: The types of love you’ll experience in your life]

All the different types of love

Yes, there are a lot of different types of love out there. You can have romantic love, sibling love, friendly love, and the love you have for those you were once in romantic love with. 

This can all be a little confusing but chances are, you’ve felt each of these types before. And unconditional love definitely makes the list, too. [Read: How to stay in love forever]

The point is, there isn’t just a single form of love and you either have it or you don’t. Every single person has at least one type of love in their life.

Cons of unconditional love

While unconditional love sounds like perfection, there are some downsides to it too.

Unconditional love can be unhealthy if you don’t set personal boundaries. When you have a deep love for someone, it can cause us to become blind to the red flags and other bad behavior from other people.

If you’re giving someone unconditional love but they don’t respect you or give you love in return, then you are creating a toxic relationship environment. [Read: How to respect yourself – 37 secrets of self-respect, self-belief, and self-love]

You need to love yourself first before you give away your love unconditionally.

As you can see, loving unconditionally requires two people to do it reciprocally. It’s wonderful to love someone without expectations. However, you can’t neglect your own needs and desires. 

Yes, sometimes love requires some sacrifice. But you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your sense of self for other people. [Read: Love yourself first – where people go wrong, 36 whys, and how to do this right]

You need to have some level of expectations for other people, even if it’s just that you need to be treated kindly. If you do this, then you can be sure that you’re giving your love to people who love and appreciate you too.

What unconditional love is not

Now that we discussed the downsides of unconditional love, here are a few more things that it is not. [Read: Toxic relationship – what it is, 107 signs, causes, and types of love that hurt you]

1. Ignoring relationship issues

You might think that unconditional love only exists when there aren’t any problems in a relationship. That’s not true. 

All relationships have issues. And when you love someone unconditionally, you want to work through them mutually, not make yourself purposefully blind to them.

2. Neglecting your own needs

If you identify yourself as a “giver,” that’s great – but only to a point. There has to be give-and-take between both of you. [Read: People pleaser – 21 signs you’re one and how to stop pleasing people]

So, if you give and give and give but get nothing in return, then you will burn out and feel bad about yourself. You have to have your needs fulfilled too.

3. Tolerating abuse

Sadly, a lot of people don’t know that if someone abuses them, then they are not loved unconditionally. Love is patient and kind. It never hurts people. 

So, if you are being hurt by someone mentally, emotionally, or physically, that is most definitely NOT unconditional love. You shouldn’t tolerate it. [Read: Emotional abuse – what it is and 39 signs this relationship is breaking you]

How to love unconditionally 

Don’t let this discourage you. Of course, it’s one of the toughest processes to go through, but it’s the most rewarding. In order to love unconditionally, it’s going to take a lot of work, time, and patience. But it’s completely doable.

Let’s forget about the pressure of social media, society, and our families. The only way to love unconditionally is through loving yourself. Yes, it sounds cheesy, but it’s cheesy because it’s true.

If you want to experience true, unconditional love, then follow these tips. It’s not easy to learn how to love unconditionally, but it’s worth it. [Read: What is true love? 58 signs and ways to tell if what you’re feeling is real]

1. You need to love yourself first

You’ve heard this time and time again, but listen, we’re saying it for a reason. You simply cannot give love to others when you don’t love yourself.

If you hate yourself, how can you think that you can give pure and positive love to someone else?

It’s really simple: you can’t give what you don’t have. Though it’s simple, this is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. [Read: The reasons you need to love yourself first before you can fall in love with someone else]

2. It’s not about words

We think that in order to show love, you need to tell people that you love them. It’s certainly one way of expressing love, but the best unconditional expression of love is through actions. 

Anyone can say ‘I love you’ but someone who is giving pure love will always show it. Big or small acts, it doesn’t matter. Just show it. [Read: These sweet gestures show your love without words]

3. Always question yourself

You should be thinking to yourself, “Am I giving the most love that I can give to this person?” 

It can be hard to measure affection, and some people aren’t as affectionate as others. But if you’re giving the most love you can to a person, then you are giving unconditional love.

4. It’s not a smooth ride

Here’s the thing, we think that once we start loving unconditionally, things become easy, a smooth ride. [Read: 17 signs of a supportive partner who encourages you and your goals]

Now, once you become more accepting of yourself, you will notice feeling happier, lighter, and more at ease. But this doesn’t mean that the journey is over.

You’re going to be constantly confronted with situations that will be unpleasant. But loving unconditionally through them is important.

5. Form healthy boundaries

Listen, just because you love unconditionally doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take care of yourself. [Read: How to set boundaries in a relationship – 19 rules for healthy love]

If you want to be able to love openly, set healthy boundaries with yourself first. Because if you’re not in a good place, you won’t be able to love honestly. 

6. Honesty is key

If you want to know how to love unconditionally, be honest with yourself and the other person. If you truly love someone unconditionally, you’ll be communicative in an honest way. 

No, we didn’t say blunt honesty, but rather gentle honesty. [Read: Signs of dishonesty in a relationship that push couples apart]

7. Not everyone deserves unconditional love

That’s right. Yes, it’s hard to read, but it’s true. If someone isn’t treating you right, disrespecting you, and making you feel bad, they’re not in love with themselves. 

Now, if they don’t love themselves, then how are they going to love you? [Read: These toxic traits in people can drain you]

8. Understand how people accept love

Though you may love being hugged and kissed, not everyone enjoys that. People love differently. 

It’s not this one-size-fits-all idea that we all assume love is. Instead, love comes in different forms, but it’s your responsibility to adapt your love to others. 

9. It’s about forgiveness

This is possibly one of the hardest things to do. Who wants to forgive someone for wrongdoing? [Read: How to forgive and forget – 24 thoughts to decide on the right step]

Most of us like to bask in the feeling of anger, using it to fuel us in a negative way. Well, though you can do that, it’s not going to bring you to unconditional love. Instead, it’s going to age you.

10. Accept them for who they are

If you want to give someone unconditional love, you’re going to have to accept them for who they are. You can’t truly love someone if you’re just thinking of ways to change them or how they can improve themselves. 

You need to accept their flaws because most of the time, these things won’t change. [Read: 25 must-follow relationship rules for successful love]

11. Be communicative

It’s essential that you focus on communicating with the people you love. But this isn’t about telling someone ‘I love you.’ When we’re talking about communication, we’re talking about everything. 

See how they’re feeling, what they’re needing, etc. Perhaps they need more affection or they’re feeling emotionally blocked, this is where you come in. Talk about those things and create an unconditional bond.

12. You’ll need to practice daily

If you want to succeed in giving and receiving unconditional love, then you’re going to need to work for it. This isn’t something that you can learn in a day. It’s going to take time. [Read: 45 facts about love and psychological secrets to decode how the mind works]

So, every day, you should do at least one act of kindness without wanting anything in return. That could mean helping someone move, paying for a stranger’s coffee, or anything similarly selfless and helpful.

13. Practice self-love

Yes, you’re practicing unconditional love daily, but what about yourself? You need to spend time developing self-love for yourself. [Read: How to build self-confidence – 16 ways to realize you’re worth it]

Remember when we said that you can’t give unconditional love unless you love yourself? Well, this is when theory needs to be put into practice. Every single day, spend a moment loving yourself.

14. Care less

You may not know what we mean exactly. Well, sure, love is about caring for someone, but you shouldn’t care only when something is in your self-interest. 

Unconditional love isn’t about doing things to serve you. [Read: The art of being a better listener in your relationship]

15. Make love a choice

If you want to love unconditionally, you must make love a choice. Actively decide that you’re going to work on yourself and the relationship in order to create unconditional love. If not, you won’t have the drive and patience to keep going.

16. Communicate in a non-defensive way

Unfortunately, most people aren’t taught the proper, healthy way to communicate with other people. Instead, many resort to yelling, screaming, or name-calling. This is not unconditional love.

Instead, when you love someone unconditionally, you communicate in a non-defensive way. [Read: 42 secrets to communicate better in a relationship and ways to fix a lack of it]

You want to hear what the other person says, and you have a “team” mentality. It’s not “you vs. me” but rather about “us” and finding mutually beneficial solutions.

17. Don’t let the little annoyances in your life override your love

Everyone has bad habits. You will never find someone who is “perfect” in your eyes and doesn’t do anything that bothers you. That’s just a given in life.

But when you love someone unconditionally, you don’t let those little annoyances ruin your love for the other person. Instead, you accept them for who they are and love all of their “flaws” and imperfections. [Read: What is real love? 15 ways true love sets itself apart]

How to know if you’ve felt unconditional love and the traces it leaves behind 

If you really want to know what unconditional love is, look no further. Here are all the different ways you can tell if you’ve felt unconditional love and what qualities to look for to make sure it’s this type of love.

1. You feel loved

This may seem obvious, but hear us out. When someone loves you unconditionally, you’ll just feel it. You don’t need them to tell you how much they care about you. You’ll already know.

Loving unconditionally has a lot to do with actions more so than what someone tells you. [Read: Does he love me? 37 signs he’s past like and totally in love with you]

Therefore, if you are feeling loved and cared about just by the actions of someone else, it’s probably unconditional love.

2. You feel respected

Respect is a major part of unconditional love. When someone not only loves you deeply but also respects you to no end, that’s real love. 

That’s what you want out of love and that’s exactly what unconditional love is. It’s a deep respect for someone in addition to the complex feeling of love. [Read: How to respect yourself and know your self-worth]

If the person in your life who loves you also respects the hell out of you, then it’s unconditional.

3. You never feel judged

A lack of judgment is easily one of the biggest things that indicate unconditional love. 

If you think you’re in love and that your partner loves you unconditionally, but you still feel as though you’re being judged whenever you talk about something a little different, it’s not unconditional love. [Read: Lessons to deal with judgmental people]

You should never feel judged, not if you’re loved unconditionally. That’s what it means – someone loves you no matter the conditions. They don’t judge what you do or the things you like.

4. You can be vulnerable easily

This has a lot to do with not being judged, too. Because you’re not judged, you can easily let your guard down and be vulnerable. You never really feel like hiding how you feel. If you need to break down, you can break down.

You know it’s unconditional love when someone is there to support you and they understand everyone needs moments to be vulnerable. [Read: Signs that prove someone is emotionally mature]

They respect your vulnerability instead of being turned off by it.

5. You never question a person’s love for you

If you want to know what unconditional love is, it’s not questioning whether or not someone loves you. There’s no doubt in your mind that they do. 

You’ll never feel compelled to ask them if they love you unconditionally. They’ll simply be able to show you that they do. [Read: Does he still love me? 25 questions to reveal the truth instantly]

6. You can fully be yourself

Since there’s no judgment coming from the person that loves you, you can be completely yourself. You never feel the need to hide certain qualities or quirks from the person.

Since they love you unconditionally, you know that, no matter what, they’ll still love you at the end of the day, no matter how weird you are. That feeling is what unconditional love is. [Read: How to be comfortable with being yourself]

7. You feel an immense level of comfort

If you’ve ever felt so comfortable with someone that it’s like they’re an extended part of you, that’s unconditional love. You get this really deep seeded feeling of relaxation and comfort whenever they’re around.

It’s like they’re solely responsible for bringing you this level of comfort. This is a big sign of unconditional love because you get to relax in their love. You’re not worried, you’re not judged, you’re just loved.

8. Your trust is super solid

Basically, you just don’t have trust issues. Unconditional love is by far the strongest. [Read: Signs the person you’re with deserves your trust]

When you have it, there are never any trust issues between two people. The love your partner gives you and shows you is beyond enough to make you feel secure in your relationship.

9. You know if you mess up, you’ll be forgiven

Obviously, this comes with some wiggle room. If you cheat on someone, you have to know that you may never be forgiven even if they do love you unconditionally. They can still love you and leave you.

However, you know that forgiveness is a major part of your relationship. If you make a mistake, you can get through it and be forgiven because they’ll love you no matter what. [Read: How to forgive yourself and free yourself of the weight of guilt]

10. You have and recognize flaws but they don’t seem to matter

We’re all flawed. No one is perfect. 

That being said, you know it’s unconditional love when those things just don’t really matter. The flaws are known and recognized but they don’t make a difference in how someone feels about you.

11. You can show your fears freely

Since you know you won’t be judged and you can actually allow yourself to be vulnerable, you can also show them your fears. [Read: Ways to overcome the fear of losing someone you love]

You can go to them with your fears without feeling as though they’re going to think you’re stupid for them. In fact, you know they’ll only see you as stronger for having faced them.

12. Sometimes it boggles your mind how much someone cares for you

This is really the biggest feeling of unconditional love. Sometimes we just can’t believe someone cares about us that much. We feel so loved and respected that it seems like a miracle.

That’s what unconditional love is – that’s how strong it is. Sometimes it can feel crazy how much someone can truly love you because loving unconditionally is extensive. [Read: 23 real ways to love someone and make them feel true love from you]

13. The other person doesn’t try to make you feel small

If someone tries to criticize you and tells you that you’re nothing, that is definitely not unconditional love! Instead, unconditional love lifts you up and helps you see the best in yourself.

They help you love yourself, they don’t tear you down. Because they help you with your self-esteem, they also help you grow as a person, not the other way around.

14. The relationship is reciprocal and not transactional

A transactional relationship is when someone keeps a score of what they give and receive from someone else. They won’t give unless they receive something back. [Read: What is one-sided love? 20 ways to cope when you’re not loved back]

On the other hand, unconditional love doesn’t keep tabs on what the other person does for them. Instead, they give freely and don’t expect anything in return. That’s not to say that they don’t have self-respect. But they want you to be happy.

How do you find unconditional love? 

Now that you know all about unconditional love, you are probably wondering how you can find it. After all, isn’t that what we’re all searching for? Here are some things you must do:

1. Give yourself love first

You cannot give what you don’t have. If you want to find someone who will love you unconditionally, then you need to love yourself unconditionally first. [Read: Selfless love – 18 traits that set it apart from selfish love]

In other words, if you don’t feel worthy of it, then no one else will think you are either.

2. Practice unconditional love

In order for someone to give you their unconditional love, you have to know how to do it yourself. So, that means you have to practice doing it. [Read: How to find your soulmate]

Someone isn’t going to love you unconditionally if they aren’t going to receive it from you as well.

3. Learn how you express your love

There are five main ways to express your love to someone else according to Dr. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages. They are words of affirmation, touch, quality time, acts of service, and giving of gifts. Learn how you want to give and receive love.

[Read: 15 ways real love sets itself apart from the rest]

If you’ve felt all of the above things, then you know what unconditional love feels like. Someone who loves you in every way no matter what is someone who loves you unconditionally.

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...