Unconditional Love Across the Life Span – Do We Know What It Is and How to Show It

February has long been considered the month of
love. Whether or not you’re in a romantic relationship, this month is a good
excuse to celebrate any type of love and adoration, whether it’s for a partner,
friend, child, parent, or pet.

My father was someone who believed in
unconditional love. As a Holocaust survivor, he was simply grateful to be
alive. In this regard, I’ve always viewed love as a more universal emotion,
something inspired by my dad.

He also instilled in me the tradition of
celebrating Valentine’s Day with cards and heart-shaped chocolate boxes, so I
grew up believing that Valentine’s Day wasn’t always about romance.

At the same time, in recent years I’ve been
contemplating the concept of unconditional love and thinking about what it is. Unlike
conditional love, which is earned, unconditional love exists without,
well, conditions.

What Does Unconditional Love Really Mean?

love is caring for someone’s happiness without expecting anything in return. It’s
also a type of love that separates people from their behaviors. This is the
kind of love parents have for their children, or pets have for their masters
and mistresses.

love that is given freely and without question. It’s simply a feeling that
stems from an open heart, and it is nonjudgmental and accepting.

we might love others unconditionally, but we might not approve of their actions.
For example, an adolescent going through challenging times, or an aging mother
who has become more cantankerous and aggressive as she approaches an advanced

Does Age Soften Our Set Ways?

we might become more opinionated and fixed in our opinions as we age, I feel
that in many cases, there’s a softening of our conditional love toward others,
along with a calm understanding and acceptance that we’re all different. Being
kind, compassionate, and grateful also seems to be even more prevalent as we

psychologist John Welwood wrote a great article on the subject in The
Journal of Transpersonal Psychology
(1985). He began by saying, “At the
very heart of our experience of being human, each of us has an intuitive sense
of the value of unconditional love.”

remarks that unconditional love seems to be most present during the beginnings
and endings of life because we feel most moved by the presence of others in our

love in a long-term relationship is not a co-dependency situation; it’s
characterized by allowing both parties to grow and follow their dreams.

couple loves one another because they share similar worldviews and values. It
also means that there is a foundation of trust between both individuals.

How Do We Show Unconditional Love?

In order to nurture the concept of
unconditional love, you must have a generosity of spirit, be accepting, and
understand what the other person is experiencing. Here are some ways to garner
unconditional love from another person:

  • Be understanding.
  • Show feelings of
    joy when in the other person’s presence.
  • Remain independent
    and nonattached.
  • Foster a
    generosity of spirit toward the other person.
  • Hold feelings of

There are definite advantages to nurturing
unconditional love. For example, holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl drew a correlation
between unconditional love and happiness. In other words, the more you practice
unconditional love, the happier you will be. It’s so simple.

Which of your relationships bear the mark of
unconditional love? Why do you think so? Which of your relationships need to be
nurtured more? Please share your thoughts with our community.