What’s the Difference?
Unconditional love is hard to define. For the purpose of this post, unconditional love is: caring for someone’s wellbeing no matter what happens within your relationship.
We get this idea confused with staying in a relationship with someone, no matter how much their actions contribute to your pain. This is how I define an unconditional relationship.
Unconditional relationships don’t exist for most people. If they do, they usually aren’t healthy. They are boundary-less and can be physically or emotionally abusive.
This means that despite the claim that someone unconditionally loves you, the relationship may still end. They may need to love you from afar in order to protect their own integrity and personal wellness.
Healthy limits to have within relationships include:
- pinpointing manipulation and changing harmful habits together
- no tolerance for physical violence
- leaving a relationship that is disproportionally more painful than joyful (for a variety of reasons)
- trust is broken so deeply that it cannot be repaired
- a loved one ignores your needs over and over, despite requests for change and accommodation
Don’t Lose Hope
On the other hand, if you are in a long-term, committed romantic relationship or in conflict with a family member, there are many wounds that are healable.
I am not saying you should give up at the first sign of distress. Long-term relationships are hard work regardless of deep emotional connections. The conditional relationship applies after all parties involved try their hardest for as long as they can tolerate.
Signs your relationship is not headed for Splitsville
- moments of tenderness
- a high ratio of positive to negative interactions
- attempts are made at genuine, full acceptance of the other person’s flaws
- people work hard to find forgiveness
- each party takes responsibility for their part in the conflict
If you feel like you’re in a rut or experiencing communication gridlock, seeking a family or relationship therapist can make a world of a difference. I specialize in working through long-term conflicts with romantic partners and/or family members.
Because people can’t always stay in relationships, sometimes our goal is actually for the relationship to peacefully dissolve. Other times, we aim to keep the family/relationship together.
Click “I’m Ready” above to schedule a 15-minute consultation today.