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Why Unconditional Love is so Difficult to Practice

Updated on September 10, 2014
C.V.Rajan profile image

C.V.Rajan is a retired Engineer and a spiritual seeker.With inquisitive observation of life, he writes on several human relationship issues.

Theists say God’s love is unconditional for he has created the entire cosmos and He supports, nurtures and keeps everything in nature well balanced for the well-being of his creation. Great saints unconditionally love everyone whomsoever they come across, whether he/she is good, bad, indifferent, a believer, a non-believer, a thief or a murder. Jesus Christ expects us to even love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Amma (Mata Amritnandamayi) hugs everyone and showers unconditional love. Can we?
Amma (Mata Amritnandamayi) hugs everyone and showers unconditional love. Can we? | Source

It all leads to the fact that loving someone unconditionally is a divine quality that every one of us is expected to develop, if we want spiritual evolution and lasting peace and happiness in this life. If the spirit should ideally encompass “everyone”, is it not obvious that we should do it to our own kith and kin in our own family, at least to make a start in attaining this noble quality?

Well. Such an advice is easy to give but very hard to practice! Human beings are essentially selfish at the core of their psyche and this selfishness gets revealed in every one of us in a widely varying degree. Some people are extremely selfish, some are moderately selfish, some are a little selfish and some claim they are self-centered but not selfish.

It is precisely this selfishness that prevents us from loving our family members unconditionally. The next human trait that prevents us from loving our family members unconditionally is egotism. Selfishness and egotism manifest themselves in several forms with several motives, eventually making unconditional loving a great difficulty. Let us try to study this in more detail.


1) “I must be respected”

An aged parent thinks he/ she is more matured, more experienced in life, is more knowledgeable on worldly matters, done more sacrifice in their lives for the sake of their children’s wellbeing and hence deserve to be respected by youngsters for his/her stature. But unless the youngsters understand and truly feel heart of heart these “perceived” greatness of elders to be true, they not only fail to display a true respect, but also fail to express a feeling of love towards the elders.

What do these elders get finally? Neither respect nor love. On the contrary, if these elders opt to love the youngsters unconditionally with no expectation of respect and reverence, perhaps the youngsters would feel far more close to the elders emotionally and will be at ease with them to shower their love in return.

In husband-wife relation too, stretching the need for self-respect over being casual and free with each other seems to be the cause for many marital discords in the present day.


2) Self-preservation and expectations

Parents toil hard to educate and bring up their children in life and do their best to place them at higher economic pedestals than what they could achieve in their own life. There is always some amount of selfishness lurking behind all the sacrifice. Many parents want to enjoy some creature comforts, enhanced social status and proper care by their off-springs when they get old.

Such parents feel miserable later in life when their children chart their own course in life, by marrying a boy/ girl not necessarily fitting to the parents’ choice, by relocating to a distant place in employment and by neglecting the parents at their old age.

Had these parents opted to love their children unconditionally, perhaps they would not feel miserable at later stage of life, for, they would not have had any expectations of return from their children right from the beginning.


3) Calculative mentality

A woman falls in love with a celebrity male with a calculation that she too will get celebrity status by getting married to him and can partake and share all the riches he has earned. A man marries the daughter of a rich industrialist with a calculation that he will be able to inherit his father-in-law’s business empire at a later date without any merit of his own. A school boy showers his love on his elder sister with a calculation that she will help him in doing the home-work and student projects at the school. A sister showers extra love on her recently employed brother with a calculation that he will shower her with costly gifts upon getting his pay check.

A love made with a calculation is no love at all. If the calculations go wrong, love can turn to hatred in a moment. While it is extremely difficult even to talk about true love to people of such mental attitude, is it ever possible to broach the subject of unconditional love to them and make them understand? It is extremely difficult.

4) Desire to dominate

People bet on their love to dominate others. It is another strange reality of life. A woman uses possessiveness as a quality to demonstrate her love on her husband. The husband feels elated and charmed initially by this display of possessive love; but soon he finds out that it is through this instrument that his wife manages to constantly watch over him and then dominate him. The husband learns by bitter experience that carrying a load of sugar on one’s back is in no way different from carrying a load of pepper!

People who are too possessive and use love to further their possessiveness have to evolve spiritually to understand the power of unconditional love. They can only learn very belatedly that what they failed to achieve through possessive love could have been achieved by unconditional love without any bitter heart-burn.

Funny indeed is the working of the human mind in its play of egotism, selfishness love and hate. As said in the beginning, loving family members unconditionally is a great spiritual quality that cannot be learned so easily by worldly mortals. But, if learned and practiced, one can easily feel how life becomes far more simpler, uncomplicated, emotionally not hurting and highly rewarding.

Are you able to love someone unconditionally?

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    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 3 years ago

      C.V., Of course my thinking is based upon a western mindset. That's where I'm from. I never preach as I am far from being a "bible thumper". However I'm not shy about offering my opinion.

      Life is a personal journey. You're responsible for your own happiness.

      In order to be truly happy one has to be true to them self in my opinion. When it comes to relationships the goal is to find someone who shares your same values, wants the same things for the relationship, and naturally agrees with you on how to obtain those things. Last but not least there is a mutual depth of love and desire for one another. Not everyone is a suitable mate!

      Like attracts like in the long run and opposites attract divorce attorneys. Loving yourself and being good to yourself is part of (spirituality) in my opinion. God wants us to be happy. I actually embrace Oscar Wilde's quote.

    • C.V.Rajan profile image

      Disillusioned 3 years ago from Kerala, India

      Hello dashingscorpio,

      Your thinking is mostly based on western mindset of self-love as a means and end. But saints (including Jesus Christ) never preach so. Yes; self-love is good provided we expand our self to encompass the entire creation. Then the self-love automatically turns to unselfish love. OK! Not easy for most of us. But that is THE goal and ideal of life.

      I simply cannot accept what Oscar Wilde says. The statement is devoid of spirituality.


    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 3 years ago

      Unconditional love is generally practiced by God and mothers. The other exception are those people who have little or no self-esteem.

      Most people are not going to love you (no matter what you do, say, or how you treat them). Being a doormat is not a good look nor is it healthy!

      "Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary."

      - Oscar Wilde

      To truly love (yourself) means you have boundaries, "deal breakers", or a line drawn in the sand as to how much you willing to put up with before you walk away from a "toxic relationship".

      Most women who stay in abusive relationships state their reason why is: "Because I love him." In other words they do not love themselves!

      Anyone in an unhappy relationship who chooses to stay is (choosing) to be unhappy. Unconditional love can be a dangerous mindset. If you don't love yourself you can't truly love anyone else.