Putting the Brakes on the Idea of Unconditional Love

Movies, TV, magazines and music all make it seem like love is this magical thing that exists independently, as if it doesn’t take work to make a relationship healthy! We know that healthy relationships require trust, honesty, mutual respect and equality, and sometimes those things don’t come easy. Today, we’re going to break down the idea that you should love your partner unconditionally.

Side note: There is no should when it comes to feelings—however you feel is A-okay!

Unconditional love can exist, from a parent to a child sometimes, maybe from your best friend to pizza, and definitely between me and my dog, but unconditional love between partners is a really unhealthy idea. If you’re expected to love your partner without conditions, then that means any time they violate your personal boundaries, you’re still expected to love them. If your partner is expected to love you without conditions, then that means any time you try to control them, they’re still expected to love you. See why it’s time to pump the brakes?

So, what are some reasonable, healthy conditions to loving someone? We’re so glad you asked!

  • Always be respectful, even when angry, frustrated, hurt or sad
  • Communicate openly and honestly, without yelling, name calling or blaming
  • Respect each other’s boundaries and the healthy boundaries of the relationship you have agreed to together
  • Support each other in being the best versions of yourselves you can be
  • Share similar goals and ideas about what you want your individual and shared futures to look like
  • Choose to be an active participant in the relationship

Even if your bae brings all these things to the table and more, that doesn’t mean you owe your partner your love. Love is a feeling that we can’t control, so it doesn’t make sense that you should ever have to love someone, even if they’re the perfect, most respectful partner. Everyone has the right to end any relationship at any time, for any reason. If you’re not happy, if you don’t have time to devote to a romantic relationship, if you need space to deal with your own stuff, or even if you just don’t like the shoes your partner wears on Thursdays, you have the right to walk away. We know break ups are tough, but no one is owed a relationship. Rejection is a part of life, and your new ex will be okay.

We’ve explained before how if your relationship seems too good to be true, it probably is, and you know we’ve already gotten real with you about relationship expectations. You’ve probably also read our thoughts on what to look for in a partner. Maybe you’ve even asked yourself– Am I ready to date? So now you feel ready to date, you know what to look for in a partner, you know what expectations and boundaries are healthy, you know what red flags to look out for, and you know that unconditional love is not a healthy idea. But how do you combat the other unhealthy ideas about relationships that your friends, family, the media, and maybe even your partner are bombarding you with? Send ‘em our way! How do you safely break up with your partner if they’ve ever made you feel unsafe? Talk through your plan with us! Our advocates are available 24/7 by chat, phone and text to talk to anyone with concerns (or unhealthy ideas) about romantic relationships. Call us at 1-866-331-9474, chat at www.loveisrespect.org, or text LOVEIS to 22522 to be connected with an advocate.