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Unconditional Love versus Attachment

Getting to the Root of the Problems in our Relationships


People in nature scene

How do you give and receive love? The way you love is a reflection of your state of mind and your levels of inner peace, contentment and happiness. And also, often, a product of your upbringing and the ways that those around you gave and received love. Let's have a look at 2 very different types of love...

Unconditional Love

Those who can love unconditionally are very rare in our society. Perhaps only the Buddhas, the enlightened ones and masters of self (all the same thing, by the way) are capable of loving everyone unconditionally.

What is unconditional love? It is a feeling of complete love and acceptance for a person and wishing that person to be happy and free from any harm or suffering. It is a seeing past the personality to the very essence of a person and completely accepting who and what they are, exactly the way that they are. And, in addition, not wanting or expecting anything from them in return.

Unconditional love is always about the other, never about self. And those who can love completely unconditionally are those whose minds are completely content with life and themselves. They already radiate peace, love and happiness. They are at one with the world.

Conditional Love

Conditional love on the other hand is about attaching conditions to the love that you give. It is a product of our upbringing, our unpeaceful minds and the general nature of the materialistic society that we live in.

Conditional love emphasizes self over the other person. I have my expectations of you and you'd better meet them or else! I love you as long as what you are doing makes me happy otherwise you become the focus of my discontent and, believe me, you will know about it. The more "I" and "me" in your inner dialogue about your loved one then, the more conditional is your love.

Depending on the level of condition that you are attaching to your love (what Buddhists call attachment), this kind of love is more about neediness and addiction and leads to untold misery, arguments and fighting. People who find it hard to give love also find it hard to receive. They have a high sense of ego and separateness leading to loneliness even in the presence of others. And therefore, in effect, the root of the problems in our relationships is inside ourselves.

The Middle Way

Not many people can love completely unconditionally. With our roles in society as parents, family members, carers and workers, we depend upon the cooperation of those around us to fulfil our obligations to a certain extent. But how we react when they don't live up to these (sometimes unrealistic) expectations says a lot about our levels of maturity and inner happiness and our ability to give and receive love. Do we shout or withdraw? Do we "put up" and "shut up", while all the time building up our resentment levels until they explode.

Can we give without expecting anything back? Can we smile and genuinely let a person be whom they are, and love them just for themselves? Can we see and feel something deeper in them? Even when we know we must walk away.

What most of us feel is a mixture of conditional and unconditional love. We can't help loving conditionally but we can start to become aware of this so that we can start to change it. Self-awareness leads to self-mastery and when we have mastered ourselves, when we are connected to our inner essence, then we will intuitively know the right things to do. We can love and accept ourselves and others without condition. Then we are happy, contented and loving and all our relationships reflect this.





Advanced Meditation Audio


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