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The Psychology of Unconditional Love

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Most of us have heard about unconditional love. This is the kind of love where a person loves another person without any conditions. There are no “ifs” and “buts” in unconditional love. When you love someone unconditionally, you accept them for who they are with all of their flaws and not expect anything in return.

The best example of unconditional love is parental love for their child. Parents love their children despite how demanding and irrational they might behave, or turn into a moody teenager.

The unconditional love of parents is, in fact, extremely necessary for the healthy growth of a child. A study suggested that children who don’t get this unconditional love from their parents end up developing many health issues when they are adults. This study found that such children are prone to have high cholesterol, high levels of stress hormones, high blood pressure and thus had an increased risk of developing heart diseases. On top of that, such children are also less protected against any kind of trauma or abuse as an adult. It also helps in better brain development.

Parent’s unconditional love gives the child a sense of hope and the feeling of safety. It helps them to develop trust in their parents so that they know that help will be available when they need it, and helps them build healthy and positive relationships in their life.

Unconditional love is not limited to parental love though. You may love your romantic partner and even your friends unconditionally as well. However, the neurological basis, in any case, would be the same.

A study that used fMRI to study brain response to unconditional love showed that both parental or romantic unconditional love originates from the same area of the brain. A total of 7 areas were identified, and only 3 of these were involved in romantic love.

“It was also noted in this study that these areas of the brain are the same regions that are involved in the reward system of our body. Meaning, every time you perform a selfless act and show unconditional love to someone, there is a release of the happiness hormone, dopamine, and this makes you feel happy about doing something for your loved one, even though you are not getting anything in return,”says Dr.Mark Sukhman, a behavioral therapist at Doctorspring.

The two most important factors that are needed to provide unconditional love to someone are compassion and empathy, as seen in a study that showed that unconditional love stimulated the area involved in empathy. Without empathy and compassion, unconditional love cannot exist. Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to look at any situation from their point of view and then understanding them is the key to loving unconditionally.

Although, Know Your Limits

While unconditional love very much exists and is actually an important factor in any relationship, it’s important that you make sure that it’s not resulting in an unhealthy relationship. 

Quite often the other person in the relationship, be it the child or your romantic partner, ends up developing a sense of entitlement when showered with unconditional love constantly. They eventually start believing that they deserve everything that they demand, despite how badly they treat others. This kind of attitude and behavior towards you can be extremely detrimental to your health and mental peace. And if this is a child that grows up with a sense of entitlement, he/she will find it very difficult to form any sort of healthy relationship in the future with anyone as this pattern of behavior will continue to exist.

A relationship where one person gives their all and the other does nothing but receive will form an unhealthy relationship dynamic– the kind of dynamic you don’t want to be in.

A healthy relationship is formed when the other person over time realizes what you do for them is not easy to do. It is important for them to recognize your unconditional love and be grateful for it. Any relationship is only healthy and successful when both the individuals understand each other and reciprocate the love unconditionally. 

In a healthy relationship you should be okay to hear occasional “no” and bear occasional illogical anger, and still manage to love the other person. And so should the other person. This forms an overall fruitful relationship that involves supporting each other. 

Human beings sure have the desire to love, but we can’t ignore the fact that we also desire to be loved.