Unconditional Positive Regard
This brings us to the topic of unconditional positive regard, probably a closer approximation of what we mean by unconditional love in relationships. In this sense, unconditional love doesn’t mean always giving people what they want or always accepting what they do, at the expense of your own needs.
Instead, it is a mature type of love that means treating the other person with love and respect, even while maintaining your boundaries and protecting yourself. Whereas the immature version of unconditional love would have you feeling as though you must be everything to the other person, the mature version has you recognize that your only obligation, in the face of the other’s behavior, is to communicate your message with love and respect.
This means being attentive and attuned, even while you are setting limits and boundaries. It also means honoring the requests of others when you are able to do so without harming yourself.
It means not being harsh or dismissive, as this does not lead to compromise or solutions. At its core, this is assertiveness—letting the other person know where you stand so that together you can work out the best outcome for the two of you together.
How to Love Unconditionally
When we think about how to go about loving someone unconditionally in a relationship, the following points emerge:
- Practice open communication, so that both of your needs can be met.
- Communicate in a non-defensive way. Express your feelings while listening and taking the other person’s feelings into account.
- Don’t let the little annoyances of life override your love. Unconditional love means seeing past the squabbles about the little things in life. If you have a commitment of love that is larger than those things, you will have staying power.
- Share power in your relationship. No one person should get everything they want, or this will lead to resentment by the other person.