It will be worth it!
Before a person can give or express their “unconditional love” it's important to understand the various meanings behind each of these two words.
Unconditional means to be without condition and limitation, complete and absolute, and given freely and without reservation
The word "love," however, means something different for everyone.
Love creates a variety of different feelings, emotional states, and attitudes. Love can refer to affection, strong attraction, or passion, and it can also mean a sense of personal attachment to someone or something.
For some, love is a virtue expressed as loving kindness, compassion, and affection. For others, it is a selfless, loyal, and benevolent concern for the good of another. And it can be a physical, emotional, or romantic feeling expressed toward a person or an object.
Unconditional love, therefore, is affection and passion for another without condition and limitation. And no matter how you define it, unconditional love is fundamental to sustaining a long-lasting relationship.
These five essential qualities promote unconditional love:
1. Loving without limitations.
Pure love is expressed as freedom. To love without conditions and limitations is the ultimate love. It is the freedom for two people to be who they are, without one needing to control the other to satisfy their own needs. Unconditional love is authentic and sustaining and allows for each person to have their space — to experience, to create, and to grow — individually and together.
The need to be right and be in control of the relationship creates a destructive environment for any relationship. If love is expressed with conditions, they are likely driven by insecurity. A relationship that is unconditional seeks physical and emotional power with another, not power over them.
2. Free-flowing exchange of giving and receiving.
Love is more than a feeling or emotion, it is a conscious action and choice to aid the well-being of another. It’s the willingness to give love, affection, and admiration with openness, acceptance, and appreciation.
When you freely give, you do receive in return. This being said, relationships are a working partnership, and as such, they require healthy boundaries so no one is taken advantage of or abused.
For the receiver of unconditional love, it’s important to feel worthy and deserving. This is unconditional love to the self, and when you love yourself unconditionally, you can more easily give and receive love to another.
3. The release of all judgment.
Judgment is the withholding of love, and it is, therefore, conditional. When you judge another you are not accepting them for who they are.
In times of relationship frustration or struggle, ask yourself: "What’s the most loving act I can offer this person?"
The answer and the related action will move you from judgment and resentment to acceptance and loving action.
4. Expressions of love and affection.
Develop the habit and practice of expressing love to yourself and others daily. Be creative, spontaneous and joyful with the practice of offering loving-kindness.
Gratitude is a way to walk with love. Simply offering gratitude and appreciation to another brings joy and caring to them and to yourself.
5. Establishment of common ground.
The ability to communicate openly and respectfully with each other is an expression of unconditional love. The willingness to seek to understand each other and work to find win-win solutions in problem-solving situations is unconditional love as well.
Take the higher relationship road with each other. Find similarities within your differences is a pathway to being unconditional with each other.
Unconditional love isn't always easy to practice.
However, happiness and fulfilling relationships thrive when you are able to do so.
The more aware you can be of your own needs and how you might turn your needs into conditional expectations for someone else to meet, the greater your opportunity to express the right actions of unconditional love.
David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of "Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.