What Is Unconditional Love And Do I Have It?

Updated June 17, 2024by Regain Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include abuse which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact theDomestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Unconditional love,” sometimes called compassionate love or agape love, is a term that refers to loving someone without any strings attached. It means caring about the happiness of another person and extending your love to them with no expectation for something in return. 

To put a definition another way, unconditional love is the type of love that exists between a parent and child, or even between a dog and his owner. It is love that is given without expecting or even really caring if that love is returned. You love this person wholeheartedly, and nothing is going to change that. Unconditional love means that you accept their faults without judgment. While romantic love between two people is a means to love unconditionally, the concept of unconditional love refers to one or both individuals loving the other and expecting nothing back.  This article will help you understand what it means to unconditionally love someone else, and how you can find and show this selfless act of love. 

What is unconditional love?

Unconditional love is a spontaneous expression that arises within a person’s heart and reflects complete and total love for someone else without needing any love in return. This type of love is shared without judgement and in complete trust. A simple way to describe unconditional love is to say that you love someone no matter what they say or do. An example is the love a mother might feel after the birth of her newborn child.  

Conditional vs. unconditional love

While we may hope to hold unconditional love indefinitely for the people we care most about, many times conditional love can take over our ability to love unconditionally. Conditional love can be considered a feeling of affection, pleasure, and attraction that is based on how completely another person matches our needs, wants, and personal desires. A person who loves conditionally will fall out of love with someone when they realize they do not fulfill their conditions, or expectations, or acts in a way they do not like. An example of conditional love would be loving your car because it's reliable. You love the car because it runs well. But if the car had major mechanical issues, you may no longer love that car. Your love for your car is conditional upon it working well.

You are worthy and deserving of unconditional love

Conditional love, therefore, is more about control than unconditional love (though both terms may be used to characterize romantic love). You love someone or something because you are under the illusion of control. However, once that person or thing is no longer valuable to you, you may lose your affection for it. For this reason, conditional love is often applied to shorter-term romantic relationships, whereas unconditional love may be more applicable to long-term enduring love. 

If your partner is trying to control how you dress, act, and feel, then they are trying to make you live up to their ideal of you in their head, not the person you are. Accepting you completely for who you are is unconditional love. If there are strings attached to your relationship, such as a certain job, look, or status, then this love is not unconditional. 

Passion can be a type of conditional love. Thus, when passion runs out, sometimes anger or hatred will take its place. Both can be incredibly strong emotions, and when someone we're passionate about does something to hurt us or otherwise change our opinion of them, that passion can turn to hatred. Mature, long-lasting relationships may have moments of passion, but not reflected in anger or hatred when the passion is not there.  When two people have a stable, consistent, unconditional love underneath the passion, a loss in physical attractiveness or moments of discontent will not spur anger or despicable behavior when expectations are not met.

Falling in love typically does not occur in one day, nor is developing resentment towards one another. Love without conditions is a selfless act where lust and hostility are more self-centered emotions. Even if you find that you have expectations that make you doubt your love for someone when they let you down, you are still capable of loving unconditionally. The next section clarifies this sentiment. 

Is loving unconditionally possible?

You may ask yourself: is it possible to fall in love with someone unconditionally, and to keep loving them in an unconditional way? And the answer is: absolutely! Unconditional love is not something that happens naturally and without effort, though. It is an unconditional positive regard for the life of another person. Unconditional love is mature love, or romantic love, and so it may be too much to expect someone to love us unconditionally if we become clingy or overly dependent on the other person to fulfill our needs. 

You may have heard that it is unhealthy to make your life all about your partner, and this is true. You need friends, hobbies, and other interests besides your partner to balance yourself. Relying too much on your partner to fulfill all your needs can burn a relationship out, and frankly, it's unfair to your partner.

You need to take care of yourself so that your relationship becomes the cherry on top of the cake, as opposed to the whole cake. Once you ensure that your own needs have been met, then you have a much better chance of seeing your relationship blossom into one that is respectful and filled with love. 

How to know if you love unconditionally in a relationship


Unconditional positive regard for another is not always fluid. It is also found not just the love that parents feel for their children or animals for their owners. Romantic love can become unconditional love, too - in fact, "true love" is synonymous with its unconditional form. You'll know you have this feeling for another person when you do not judge that person for their faults, and when you feel and express empathy when they have had a bad day. Even when they take their frustrations of their day out on you, you still love them. 

You may enjoy being around your partner when they are at their best. However, unconditional love is reflected when you accept your partner when they are at their worst. A bit of advice often offered is when you are trying to decide if the person you are with is the person to marry. Unconditional positive regard means if they have seen you at your worst and they are still in love with you, that one's a keeper.

Every person will have a bad day, or sometimes be in a bad mood. We will all have our personal rough patches, which may lead to rough patches in your relationship. However, this means no matter what the future holds, you have the faith and confidence that you and your partner will support each other.

When you have unconditional love and are loved unconditionally, you do not feel the need to play head games with each other. You know not to take it personally when they are in a bad mood. Furthermore, you encourage them to talk about their feelings and offer them the patience and compassion they need to get through it. Above all, you know you both share unconditional, compassionate love for the long haul and are unable to see yourselves ever being with anyone else. It means you feel safe with them, and they are with you.

The difference between unconditional love and abuse

If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or Text "START" to 88788. You can also use the online chat

Some people may misconstrue this meaning by interpreting it to mean that you are justified in loving your partner no matter how badly they treat you. This is not a healthy relationship with your partner. Unconditional love does not justify abuse. 

Healthy boundaries are essential to healthy relationships. If someone consistently violates your boundaries, then they do not love you unconditionally. Their love is contingent on their ability to treat you however they want, without regard to your feelings. Furthermore, if you feel as though you unconditionally love someone despite abuse, then this is not true unconditional love either. You be dealing with manipulation from the person abusing you and your own personal anxieties about life without them.

Unconditional love is meant to overlook the little annoyances in a relationship, like eating the last donut and leaving the empty box on the counter or forgetting to put the toilet seat down. Unconditional love is not meant to forgive your partner being physically, emotionally, or verbally abusive toward you. If you are in an abusive relationship, it is important that you get help and get out.

Unconditional love is rooted in caring for another person and being cared for in return. It is not supposed to be a reaction to our partners out of an obligation to them because it is expected of us. The main thing to remember is that unconditional love is about acceptance, compromise, and sacrifice. If your partner is not meeting you will the same, you may be dealing with destructive self-sacrifice.

Is unconditional love important when looking for a soulmate?

Getty/Xavier Lorenzo
You are worthy and deserving of unconditional love

You do not have to be dating someone long to feel unconditional love for that person. Some of us feel it right from the outset. However, it can turn conditional when you begin to be critical of the relationship or our partner, looking for signs as to whether you could live with that person for the long haul.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it might be better for you to be able to change your love. Unconditional love that becomes conditional can help you evaluate the relationship and your boundaries before going any deeper into a commitment with this person. For example, have you ever met a couple that married quickly, only to later realize they had compatibility problems that impeded their marriage.

The idea of a "soulmate" is that conditional love and unconditional love will eventually overlap, making this person your ideal partner. But, are soulmates real

A lot of us put stock into meeting our "soulmate," yet it can be naïve to believe that in a world consisting of billions of people, there is only one person out there for you.

While the romantic notion of a soulmate is often hoped for, it is important to recognize that many different people can connect with you on that intimate level. The problem is that such a connection is rare, and so while it may feel like you are only able to experience with one person, keep your heart open to the possibility that you have a choice. 

This is very important to remember if you feel you have found your soulmate, and then things go awry. Maybe your partner turns out to be the opposite of who you thought they were. Or, perhaps even sadder, maybe you did find your ideal partner, and then they passed away. It can give you hope to know, though, that there are other soulmates out there for you. You may have to do a lot of work to find another one, but they are out there, which can help encourage you to continue your search. 

Reaching for professional support

Wanting to share unconditional love in your relationship is a valiant goal, especially when you are just beginning to see someone new that you deeply care for. You may also be in a long-term relationship and are hoping to develop a closer bond or have noticed you are drifting apart. Couples counseling is a wonderful place for you and your partner to work through any obstacles you are experiencing, such as unmet expectations and difficulty resolving conflict. Some people will seek individual therapy to develop relationship skills and heal any past experiences that are keeping them from opening up to love unconditionally.

 Whether you are seeking individual or relationship-based therapy, online therapy platforms like Regain can match you with the right licensed therapist for your needs. According to many studies, online therapy is often equally effective as in-person therapy for reducing symptoms of mental health challenges. Many people prefer online therapy because it can be more convenient to schedule sessions, and it’s typically more cost-effective than in-person therapy. 

Reaching for professional mental health support can be a difficult first step, but you might find it’s a positive step for your mental health and relationship satisfaction. 


Therapy is a personal experience. Even when different people are seeking help for the same challenge, for example relationship counseling, they will have a unique path to understanding themselves and their current or future partners.  Being open to self-discovery and exploration will help get the most out of online therapy, regardless of what your specific goals are.

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