Unconditional love has a new definition every five minutes. With 7 billion people in the world all with their own unique idea of what love means, it’s easy for wires to get crossed. The dictionary tells us that unconditional love is “affection with no limits or conditions; complete love”. Sounds blissful, doesn’t it? That definition, hand-in-hand with the way in which love is portrayed in films and on TV shows contributes to unconditional love as a perfect, frilly phenomenon that materializes when you meet the right person.
*Insert overused British vulgarity referring to the male genitalia here* If possible, imagine said vulgarity being bellowed from the top of a red double-decker bus by a heavily mustached man wearing a bowler hat and brandishing an umbrella. Unconditional love is not what we expect it to be when we finally experience it, and that is why so many of us walk away from it. Here’s the truth behind the meaning of unconditional love.
It Means Having Fights
Waiting for someone who is compatible with you on every conceivable level will have you dying alone. Why? Because while we usually know what we want from a relationship in terms of the big issues like kids, marriage, or religion, human beings are terrible at knowing what they want. (Want a sensitive partner? Wait, not that sensitive. OK, maybe a little more sensitive than that). Finding someone with the correct degree of everything when you don’t even know what the correct degree is, is impossible. Soulmates surely exist, but 100% compatibility does not. So, regardless of topic, the partner you love unconditionally will fight with you.
While nobody likes fighting, arguments serve a purpose. By having heated discussions and challenging each other’s beliefs, we learn more about each other, develop negotiation mechanisms and work out the kinks in our relationships — (You know, the bad kinks. I recommend keeping the good ones. Wink, wink.)
It Means Feeling Sorry and Actually Saying It
“Sorry” is a difficult word to say. I’ve known many people who are incapable of producing noises that sound anything like it, just in case they are mistaken for apologizing. Some people treat “sorry” like a dirty word that brands them with permanent black marks. Unconditional love means conceding when you are wrong and recognizing that you have hurt someone you love. It means fearing saying “sorry” and saying it anyway because that’s the least that they deserve after the horrible thing you said or did to them. The most well-meaning people in the world will still do or say something in their lives that warrants a sincere apology. Nobody escapes without a single regret.
Putting your pride aside and saying “sorry” for whatever you have done is a true representation of love. You risk many things when apologizing, whether it’s the other person rubbing it in your face, or holding it over your head in future arguments. But you put aside those concerns and take the plunge because unconditional love means doing the right thing by the person you care about.
It Means Allowing Them to be Vulnerable
We all feel safer when those closest to us take control, and have confidence in themselves. It gives us a chance to relax and enjoy security without needing to be proactive. Sometimes your partner needs that too. If you love someone unconditionally, you will take it upon yourself to be the rock: the immovable force that they can rely on no matter what the circumstance. Everyone needs room to have a meltdown, and a soft place to land when they fall.
By letting your partner or anyone else you care about to have a day, a week, or a moment of vulnerability, you are proving that you are trustworthy. No matter how long you have been in each other’s lives, everyone needs to be reminded that they have a shoulder to cry on. To love unconditionally is to be that shoulder.
Unconditional love is not one thing or the other. It’s a balancing act. One where enjoying the ecstasy of someone loving you intensely will inevitably be challenged by an argument that pierces you to your core. A fragment of your relationship that will have you questioning yourself, them and the meaning of life. Unconditional love isn’t always going to be the rosy tint your life needs, and that’s the way it should be. Few people appreciate a life that’s all sunshine and daisies.
Photo by Rehan Khan on Unsplash