Conditional vs. Unconditional Love

conditional versus unconditional love

Conditional Vs. Unconditional Love: What’s the Difference?

The term “unconditional love” is found all over songs and movie lines, but what does it actually mean for real life relationships?

To really understand this, let’s start by learning more about conditional versus unconditional love:

Conditional Love

Conditional love can be defined as just that--love with conditions. This means that your love for another person, or another person’s love for you, is contingent on certain actions, or things going on.

Common phrases used in conditional love:

“I will date you if you take me to prom”

“I will love you if you buy me this ring”

“I will stay with you if you don’t take that job”

See that common word if? That’s a clear indicator of a conditional relationship. In all of those phrases, the person is saying that they will enter the relationship, show their love, or remain in a relationship only if the person does or does not do a certain thing.

Those phrases are kind of stressful aren’t they? The other person is likely feeling trapped between two choices. Even more so, they feel as though they will only be loved based on their actions, rather than for who they are? Is that what love really is?

Unconditional Love

Unconditional love, on the other hand, is love without conditions. This is the kind of love that no matter what someone does, the other person will always love them.

Now, this isn’t always easy...especially when members of a relationship are in a disagreement. But through it all, there is always a sense of support, understanding, and compassion.

Common phrases used in unconditional love:

“I love you no matter what comes our way.”

“We will find a way to work this out together.”

“Even if I don’t agree with your decision, I am here to support you.”

The Difference

The difference between conditional and unconditional love is whether someone will be loved at all times, no matter what, or whether someone will be loved if they do or don’t do something. Unconditional love holds a feeling of acceptance and safety. People who experience unconditional love feel secure in their relationship and feel comfort in knowing that even if they struggle or misstep, they will always have a safe place to fall back on for support. Whereas, in conditional love, people oftentimes feel a lack of stability and trust. Moreover, they may feel like they have to mold who they are and what they do around someone else in order to continue receiving love. In all, unconditional love is something that is optimal for all of our relationships.

Not Only for Dating

Conditional and unconditional love is not something that can only be seen in our personal, intimate relationships, but applies to all of our relationships. Think of friendships, parent-child relationships, sibling relationships, the list goes on. In all of these connections, it is important to be aware of the dynamic and strive for a healthy, stable relationship built on trust, respect, acceptance, and unconditional positive regard for one another.

Mental Health Counseling Westchester, NY

Hudson LCSW Group is a Westchester county counseling practice located in White Plains, NY. Our team of clinicians provide therapy for children, teens and adults.