What Is Love and Can it Really Be Unconditional

According to Merriam Dictionary Online:

Unconditional -

not conditioned or limited: absolute, unqualified

Love (noun) -

1)strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties

2)attraction based on sexual desire

3)affection based on admiration or common interests

4)unselfish loyal and beneficial concern for the good of another

Love (verb) -

to hold dear; cherish

Everyone wants to be loved; it is one of one of the basic human needs, according to Maslow and other renowned psychologists with similar theories. But love can also be a double-edge sword. Many even claim that love is both the most selfless of emotions and the most selfish. That is a powerful thought, but what is it that it can bring both joy and pain?

What is love?

If you ask me, love is just as much a noun as it is a verb. Much of the time deep affection or compassion is present, but sometimes an act of love is carried out without immediate affection being present. Love is so much more than emotions that ebb and flow; it is also comprised of acts of kindness that are carried out regardless of whether there is an immediate desire to do so. Of course, if you consult a dictionary, it is more or less just a strong affection. However, if it is purely defined in that manner, I am not sure unconditional love could even exist because there are times when grace and forgiveness must be offered as well.

Quotes about unconditional love:

Accept the children the way we accept trees - with gratitude, because they are a blessing - but do not have expectations or desires. You don't expect trees to change, you love them as they are.

- Isabel Allenade

The only way love can last a lifetime is if it's unconditional. The truth is: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love.

-Stephen Kendrick, The Love Dare

Love is made up of three unconditional properties of equal measure:

1) Acceptance

2) Understanding

3) Appreciation

Remove any one of the three and the triangle falls apart.

Which, by the way, is something highly inadvisable. Think about it - do you really want to live in a world with only two dimensions.

So, for the love of triangles, keep love whole.

-Vera Mazarian, The Perpetual Calendar Inspiration

There must be a stronger foundation than mere friendship or sexual attraction. Unconditional love, agape love, will not be swayed by time or circumstance.

-Stephen Kendrick, The Love Dare

Self-righteousness is much like a spiritual egocentricity. It constitutes a secular type of love that thrives under conditionality, one in which is only existent after an individual meets the adopted standards of the condemner: oppositely, unconditional love is holy love.

-Chris Jami, Salome: In Every Inch In Every Mile

Nothing you become will disappoint me; I have no preconception that I'd like to see you be or do. I have no desire to foresee you, only discover you. You can't disappoint me.

-Mary Haskell

Nothing on Earth hurts my soul more than unconditional love.

-Brooke Bida

If someone is facing a difficult time, one of the kindest things you can do is say, "I'm just going to love you through this."

-Molly Friendenfield, The Book of Simple Human Truths: Inspiration, Love & Wisdom

Spending moments with another in earnest presence is one of the simple ways we can show unconditional love. It is the memories created from these impressions that survive after all else passes."

-Molly Friendenfield

What is unconditional love?

Unconditional love is just that - unconditional. Without qualifications, without limits, and without exceptions. It just is. It does not end even if the loved one is gone. It is pure, it is sincere, it is divine, and it is rare.

Unconditional love is often likened to maternal or paternal love as a love that endures no matter what a child does, bad or good. Given how many parents there are in the world, it would seem that unconditional love would be in abundance, but most so called love is conditional in some form or another.

Is unconditional love really unconditional?

By definition, if the love is truly enduring despite conditions, it is unconditional. Perhaps the rarity of its existence has to do with the double-edged factor that comes with loving under certain external conditions. Possessing and giving this kind of love can be among the most painful experiences, but it can also be among the most rewarding. The key is knowing how to cope with the pain by letting go of expectations.

How do you love unconditionally?

Much like there is unconditional love through Christ, in order to love others unconditionally, one must let go of most, if not all, selfish notions surrounding love. This includes pain and deep worry for another's well being, which stems from a strong desire to have a person in one's life. Perhaps Mary Haskell says it best when she says, "I have no desire to foresee you, only to discover you." Though, in discovering another, pleasant things must not become a reason to love and unpleasant things should not become reasons not to love.

Assuming one is not confusing things liked and admired about a person with reasons one is loved, to either say that someone is loved or not loved for certain traits, personality characteristics, or things done is to place limits and expectations. These things change. They change with physical, spiritual, and other types of growth. They also change according to circumstance. So, if someone else cannot tell you why you are loved, consider it a compliment.

What if Jesus comes back like that? Where will he find our hearts are at?

What does all this matter?

Love is a gift - that is why it is given to someone. Gifts of love cannot be borrowed, neither can they be returned to sender. The recipient has no choice in the matter, albeit most of the time it is a welcomed gift. To be loved by others is sought after, if only to feel a sense of acceptance by others, and it is fulfilling, especially if the grace of true unconditional love is extended.

To love someone else unconditionally is also, perhaps even more, fulfilling and freeing. It opens doors for unexpected relationships that can cause personal growth, fulfill one's own need to feel accepted, fulfill other subconscious needs, and bring great happiness. The real value in trying to master the art of unconditional love, however, is knowing you have the capacity to love.

Possessing the ability to love at all is a blessing, but possessing the ability to love unconditionally might just be the biggest blessing one can have. It is life affirming, and if you can love even one person unconditionally, you can recognize when it is sincerely given to you. Embrace the gift and do not ask why.

Other thoughts on the matter:



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Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

I truly believe that all love is divine and unconditional and part of God. Only man puts false Ego driven barriers that block that connection with God and every other human being. All love is made perfect but the rest of a man is not.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas Author

Well - ideally, all love would be unconditional. But, I think it is rare in humans. And even if one feels it, it isn't always shown.

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Agreed. It is just to perfect and and we just ain't. Really good to address this issue and you did it well.

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Hi Dear Shan,

What a thought-provoking piece here you have written. Yes, love is certainly the most precious gift of all we can give. I especially love how you have written that it is by grace we can love unconditionally. Whenever I have been extended grace, it is such a beautiful thing---a gift, as you have written here ... of acceptance.

I think for one to do such, one's heart must be changed radically, and I only know of one way that can happen---that radical heart change.

Thank you for including all the great quotes too.

Up and more and sharing


God bless you. In His Love, Faith Reaper

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas Author

Aw, Faith, I love you. Seriously, I do. Hehe

But, yes, love of that nature is by grace. It is so much easier to cling to our own reasons of why not or to clung to anger and resentment if provoked to it. It is even easy to choose to become angry instead.of hurt, but that is poison to the heart and spirit. Better to let go and keep loving.

Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Beautiful! Thank you for this. Aren and I where 2 broken people who luck brought together to make a whole.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas Author

That's a beautiful comment, Mhatter.

cleaner3 profile image

cleaner3 3 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

I throw the word around like a rag doll.. most who do know me realize that .. but when I personalize it by saying " I LOVE.. then it becomes something different to me ...not just a word ..but a phrase... a special thing . ! what I am trying to say ..I don't know ..hope you can tell me ??

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas Author

Haha, cleaner. I think I know what you mean. To say "I love you" is personal and intimate to varying degrees. It really does signify the presence of affection specifically for that person. But one can also share love in a less personal sense. At leadt that it how it is for me. I don't take saying it lightly. Now, you tell me if that makes sense. ;-)

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

You've done the subject justice! Good work.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you, Nellieanna.

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa

shanmarie, this is an excellent and profound take on love! I agree with you all the way.

You have asked me if we have covered the topic 'love' - In a way we have covered it in many ways. Is it not strange that love is actually the foundation, or source, of everything that is good and right. (Not talking about egoism and narcissism, as this is in any case not good and right.)

In this particular hub - http://hubpages.com/health/Loyalty-Begins-at-Self-... - I mention the 4 different kinds of love - Agápe (definitely unconditional), Éros, Philia and Storge.

Fact is, we NEED love to survive and we instinctively know that by giving it we will also receive it. The problems begin when we don't receive in balance what we give, unless we are in an agapé-relationship.

I think this hub of mine also match your statement that love is just as much selfish as it is unselfish. I do believe it should be a matter of 100/100.

I also believe that love is a VERB, as well as a feeling. When it is only a feeling, it will not last, but if it is a verb, feeling is a result.

You have given us a great and thought-provoking perspective on love :)

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas Author

Somehow, Martie, I am not surprised we have similar views. :-). I will definitely go read your hub, hopefully as soon as I finish commenting to you.

I love (hehe) your statement about houw it won't last as only a noun and feeling is the result if it is a verb.

You have a point about equal part selfish and unselfish. But, if it out of balance....Very good thought to ponder. And is it even possible to love unselfishly without some degree of selfishness? (Which is why I almost said let go of most selfish notions instead of adding "if not all.")

I did think about agape love as I wrote. It always brings to mind 1 Corinthians 13, which it passage. It is a reminder of what love should always be. I used to have a beautiful tapestry throw with that passage on love on it that I often snuggled in to read, even after ants ate a huge hole in it, but it was lost in a fire.

Anyway, glad that you suggested I do this. Also glad you didn't tell me about your hub first!

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

Oh so beautiful shanmarie; voted up and shared onto my FB page A Brand New Dawn.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks, Eddy! Thought of you the other day when I came across a picture of a waterfall from Wales.

Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

We should love others the same way that God loves us unconditionally.

Gwen/dreamseeker2 3 years ago

Good thoughts on unconditional love; that which one should hope is present in their lives. To the giver and the recipient. : ) Just dropping in to see how you've been.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas Author

Hi, Gwen, so glad to see you! I've been just fine, thanks. Hope you have been as well, sweet friend. Miss your hubs. Are you publishing elsewhere?

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas Author

Eric said there's a HP ghost stealing comments, Gypsy. I guess he's right because my reply to you has disappeared! I don't even remember what I said, only that I'd replied. Probably something like that's a truth you speak, but not so easy for us humans. Perhaps if we could also be omni-everything?

profile image

Sueswan 3 years ago

Hi Shanmarie,

I think only God truly loves us unconditionally and a parent /child relationship.

Voted up and awesome

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas Author

Hi Sue,

That may be true, but I think humans can come close, if only at times. That said, I'm ALWAYS skeptical whenever someone tells me their love for me is unconditional.

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

A great share shanmarie. Enjoy your day.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas Author

Back for more? Thank you, Eddy!

DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Love and life is what you put into it so it is entirely up to the individual a well approached hub on this topic

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks, DDE! So glad you dropped by.

profile image

Ausseye 3 years ago

Hi Shanmarie,

What a read, causing my mind to reflect on unconditional. No living thing can give unconditional forever....too much to ask from life.... We all need oxygen and that is about taking our share. But there is an unconditional, like taking the bullet meant for someone else, pushing someone out of the way of an oncoming vehicle using your body and leaving it exposed .... Unconditional acts of love... A moment of love ....may not even be to someone you have a strong relationship with...but unconditional love all the same..... So I guess it does exist...just not in the way we traditionally paint it.... A Picasso of unconditional love you could say...a bit wired the wrong way....not forever but more just right now this very moment. See what you've done to this poor brain....turning it into a bit of dark matter!!!! Loved the read....or reed.....floating the baby down the river..unconditional love about it's future!!!

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas Author

What a comment, Ausseye! Thank you so much for your thoughts on the matter that cause me to think as well. It is a sort of an in the moment thing as feelings ebb and flow with their intensity. But, I've almost always kind of also felt that love is so much more than just those feelings that come and go; it's also the acts, no matter how big or small. Sometimes the acts of love carry more weight than the feelings.

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