Conditional Love vs Unconditional Love in a Relationship
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The concept of love is undeniably quite abstract and very difficult to describe. What makes it all the more complicated is the fact that love is expressed in so many ways.
The kind of love you feel towards your close family members may be different from the love towards your friends. And there’s the love for your significant other.
It’s important to understand the differences between conditional love vs unconditional love. What really is conditional love? Isn’t all love supposed to be unconditional?
So many questions about the type of love and the conditionality of love may be flooding your head. Robert Sternberg’s Theory of Love is probably one of the best theories that delineate the different types of love.
However, commitment is a common theme when it comes to love. But what about the relevance of conditional vs unconditional love in relationships and marriage?
This article will help you understand the differences between conditional love vs unconditional love and how it can be instilled in romantic relationships and marriage.
But before understanding the differences between conditional love and unconditional love, let’s first try to understand the meaning of unconditional love and conditional love.
What Is conditional love?
Although the term conditional love may have a negative connotation, to explain it very simply, it is just the kind of love that is dependent on certain conditions.
In the case of conditional love relationships, your love for your significant other may be contingent on certain conditions or actions.
To understand what is conditional love, let’s take a look at a few examples of conditional love. The following phrases will help you understand the contingency of this type of love:
- “It will make me very happy and feel loved if you buy this ring for me.”
- “Come with me as my plus one to the wedding reception, and only then will I consider dating you.”
- “I won’t divorce you if you choose to quit your job. Otherwise, I’m out.”
One of the main signs of conditional love is the presence of the “if” factor when it comes to loving someone, being with that person, making a marriage work, entering a relationship, and so on.
Another significant sign of conditional love is that the recipient of conditional love always finds themselves in a position where they have to choose between two options.
Such a set can feel quite like a trap. It can feel stressful and can thus turn into a very negative experience. This raises questions about whether love is conditional. Is conditional love really love?
In such relationships, love is dependent on how the two people involved in the relationship behave. It is love that is dependent on behavior and actions instead of the person as a whole.
Related Reading: 25 Things You Wish You Knew Before First Relationship
What is unconditional love?
Unconditional love. What is it? What is the true meaning of unconditionally loving your partner? Commitment is a huge part of unconditional love. To be able to love someone without any factors or considerations in place.
As mentioned earlier, Sternberg’s Theory of Love lists seven types of love based on three core factors, namely, intimacy, passion, and commitment; outlines unconditional love in marriage and in romantic relationships as the love that has all of the three aforementioned core factors.
Some common examples or signs of unconditional love have been listed as follows in the form of phrases:
- “I will be there by your side and love you no matter what happens.”
- “My love for you will always be there no matter how rough things get.”
- “No matter what disagreements and differences in opinion we have, we will love each other.”
- “I am by your side through thick and thin.”
These are some of the simplest ways of expressing unconditional love in marriages and romantic relationships. If you think about it, the vows people take in marriage such as “in sickness and in health,” all indicate unconditional love.
In relationships where both the partners are loved unconditionally, there is a very strong sense of compassion, empathy, direct communication, and support for one another. If you’re in such a relationship, you may feel a strong sense of comfort and security in your relationship.
Your relationship may feel like a haven. You know that your lover is by your side, no matter what comes your way. The arguments you have in your relationship won’t instantly make you question whether your partner will leave you.
Related Reading: Unconditional Love: Meaning, How To Give It and Know If It’s Healthy
Conditional love versus unconditional love: the main differences
Now that you have a clear idea about what is unconditional love and conditional love, let’s take a look at the key differences between conditional love vs unconditional love, in the context of romantic relationships and marriage.
But before that, it’s worth checking out this video clip:
To begin with, one of the main differences between conditional love vs unconditional love is contingency. In conditional love, the willingness to start loving someone, continuing a relationship, or staying in a marriage is dependent on actions or behaviors.
On the other hand, there is such contingency when it comes to unconditional love. No matter how a person behaves or does not behave, they will be loved.
The presence of “ifs”
Secondly, what your partner says to you is very important when it comes to the signs of conditional love vs unconditional love. The phrasing matters. There is always an “ if “ in conditional love from the examples mentioned above of both types of love, there is always an “if” in conditional love.
In unconditional love, there’s always a “no matter what” when your partner speaks to you.
Another difference between conditional and unconditional love can be discerned from Sternberg’s Theory of Love. Conditional love may only have passion or intimacy or a mixture of both. However, unconditional love has all three of the core factors, namely, intimacy, commitment, and passion.
Sense of security
The sense of security one feels is also different for conditional love vs unconditional love. In conditional love, partners may feel insecure and stressed out in the relationship. They may constantly find themselves in situations where they have to choose between two or more options.
For unconditional love, the marriage or relationship is their space and time to de-stress and relax. The relationship is a haven. Both partners feel secure and happy in their affections for one another. There aren’t uncomfortable situations where a partner has to earn the other partner’s love.
Related Reading: What Is Security in a Relationship?
Arguments and disagreements
Although arguments and disagreements are characteristics of any romantic relationship and marriage, the arguments that occur in relationships with conditional love vs unconditional love do vary.
When partners argue in relationships with unconditional love, they know that they’re arguing to maintain the relationship and hold it together. In such relationships, the partners behave like a team to tackle an issue.
In relationships with conditional love, the partners may argue to break away from the relationship, not to maintain the relationship. At several points, one or both partners may say, “this is it. If this isn’t happening, I’m out of this relationship.”
In such relationships, the partners are pitted against each other by the issue they may face. There is no tackling of the issue together as a team.
There is a strong theme of safety and acceptance in relationships and marriages with unconditional love. Relationships and marriages with conditional love may often make both partners feel like they constantly have to walk on eggshells.
The constant feeling of having to earn your significant other’s love is a common theme in relationships with conditional love. You constantly have to behave in a certain way and do certain things to receive any love from your significant other. This isn’t the case for unconditional love.
Should you love someone unconditionally?
Now you know about the significant differences between unconditional love and conditional love. So, does unconditional love exist?
Simply put, yes. Unconditional love does exist. And here’s the best part, it is possible to love your significant other unconditionally. If you can manifest unconditional love in your relationship, the overall quality of your relationship may become better.
Relationships with unconditional love are great for both partners. It’s not about taking each for granted. It’s about consciously and mindfully deciding to stand by your beloved no matter what happens.
It’s about instilling a sense of acceptance, trust, and safety in your relationship. It’s about infusing commitment, passion, and intimacy into your marriage or romantic relationship.
Related Reading: Relationship Quality Control
How you can start loving unconditionally
For a successful and healthy long-term relationship and marriage, love is not conditional. You know that it is entirely possible to love your partner unconditionally.
Now let’s take a look at how you may start loving your beloved unconditionally.
First and foremost, you may consider exploring the concept and practice of unconditional love together as a couple. Try to understand the concept on your own and then discuss it together.
Discuss how you’d like to manifest it into your relationship. Think about the different ways in which you can express it to your partner.
Have discussions with your partner about how this change cannot naturally happen over a period such as overnight, a few days, or a few weeks.
Accept that the process will be gradual but will be worth it. When you incorporate unconditional love, it’s about taking the initiative. If you want something to happen, do it yourself without expecting your partner to initiate it.
Unconditional love in relationships can do wonders for the bond that you share with your partner. Your partner may begin to feel like your go-to person, and your relationship may feel like a haven. So, why not start showering unconditional love over that special person from today?
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