Marriage and Family Self Improvement — 09 February 2015
What does unconditional love mean?

Some people profess to their mates and even recite to others their unconditional love and appreciation for their beloved. What does this appealing declaration truly mean and how does it impact the partner and the couple’s connection

Loving a partner with intensity, enthusiasm and adoration is a rewarding and bonding emotional state for both the lover and the beloved. Professing to the beloved one’s deep admiration and unconditional love can be euphoric for both the giver and the receiver. It enhances the beloved’s sense of desirability and may bolster his/her security, safety and serenity as it heightens the pair’s pleasure and connected bond. Yet, can one actually love a partner unconditionally?

There is a compelling body of research documenting that early maternal adoration, love and delight in her baby creates a mirrored experience of shared joy and bonding between mother and child that may contribute to the child’s future romantic attachment decades later. Knowing, feeling and sensing the deep love and enthusiasm of a parent or parents may allow one to become more secure in his/her lovability and foster the stability of his/her committed bond to the mate.

Dr. Joan Luby of Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Mo. found that a mother’s love physically affected the volume of her child’s hippocampus that was shown to be 10 percent larger in loved children than in those whose mothers were not as nurturing. She also discovered through MRI scans that non-depressed children with low maternal support had 9.2 percent smaller hippocampus volumes than those with high maternal support.

In addition to parental influences, our personalities may also affect how effusive, expressive and emotionally divulging we are. Adults who do not frequently express their unconditional love for their mates may not necessarily be less caring, infatuated or admiring of their mates than those who are more verbally expressive.

If a mother’s love can change a child’s brain, can a lover’s enthusiastic emotional delight activate the positive bonding to his/her beloved as well?  Dr. Jeremy Nicholson makes a distinction between Unconditional Love and Unconditional Relationships. He writes, “Love is the emotional attachment that is associated with attachment chemicals in the brain, while relationships are the working partnerships that involve thoughts, reasoning and decisions.” He adds, “Since love is a feeling, it can be unconditional while relationships, which are working partnerships require conditions, boundaries, limits and directions to run smoothly.”

Unconditional love may be viewed as a form of deep appreciation of the mate’s essence and lovability that is solid and unwavering regardless of disappointment, stresses or life changes.

Be an unconditional lover:

  • Understand that feeling unconditional love is a life-long choice.
  • Hold fast to the memory of your view of and feelings for your mate early in the relationship.
  • Refrain from thinking that your partner has changed for the worse.
  • Regularly express your delight in your mate’s lovable essence and your unconditional love for him/her. It will reactivate your intimacy and restore your love connection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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