BY: T. Franklin Murphy | March 1, 2018 (modified January 6, 2023)
A mature, emotionally stable parent loves unconditionally. Adults can unconditionally love but must enforce personal boundaries.
Finding a willing partner in a disastrous drama isn’t a picture of unconditional love—nor is it healthy. It often isn’t love that keeps the partner from leaving the chaos; it’s fear. Connection isn’t unconditional. Human connection is dependent on connecting behaviors. Selfishness damages closeness by exploiting vulnerabilities. Healthy love doesn’t tolerate a one-sided relationship—all give and no take. Sometimes we must love, by enforcing boundaries and leaving.
What is Unconditional Love?
Unconditional love is love without expectations of repayment. Unconditional love is without bounds or limits. Our gifts of love are given without strings attached. Unconditional love continues through hardships, disappointments, and heartaches. Most of all, unconditional love honors the autonomy of the person loved.
Licensed marriage and family therapist Elisabeth Earnshaw says unconditional love given "without expectation of repayment" (2020).
Unconditional love moves beyond the normal exchange of social currency. However, when this unconditional love is abused, with a receiver selfishly taking, and never giving, the imbalance eventually damages the connection, resentment builds, and love fades.
The love of a mother may reach a true unconditional status. Or, perhaps, a partnership that has experienced years of give and take, but one falls ill and is less able to give, but their partner faithful cares for them to the end.
Unconditional love is love that is not conditionally given.