Unconditional Love: How To Love Someone’s Soul11 min read

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Sometime last year I had to visit a traditional bonesetter. At the place, I saw a little girl who had Cerebral Palsy (CP) that affected her muscle tone, control, and movement, ultimately leading to deformations in her face, arms and legs. Usually, I looked away when I saw such kids, but the father who carried her in his arms was a member of my family church and he sat next to me. 

I watched as he played with, and teased her for almost an hour. I could even see her happiness through her contorted face. Never in my life have I ever seen love expressed so pointedly towards the soul of someone in her condition. 

Being someone who worshipped (visually) appealing things, and has always worried people cared about me because of what I could offer, it was a jarring experience. Society keeps emphasising the need to be valuable and without blemish to be loved and accepted, but here she was basking in love despite possessing no superficial reason to be cherished.

He talked to her and wiped the saliva that escaped her ajar mouth (because she could not close it). But this was not just pity; he brought her for this painful treatment because of compassion, not just empathy for her condition. He loved her and really wanted things to be better for her (as she was).

What Is Unconditional Love?

Unconditional love is a deep, steady affection that transcends conditions or benefits. It transcends adoration of the pleasing and simply hinges on acceptance and care for the individual despite their imperfections, mistakes, and, sometimes, changes. It’s about loving someone’s soul – the core of a person’s being, separated from their outward characteristics (like being funny, kind, generous, etc.) or qualities (like being tall, pretty, healthy, etc.).

It is the sort of love that remains unchanged during the good times and the bad. It remains the same even if they happen to catch a disease, get burnt by acid or fire, lose all their money and respect, become paraplegic and have absolutely nothing to offer. Heck, it is the love that transcends death and doesn’t care if there’s nothing to gain.

Unconditional love is like the roof on top of a building that simply covers despite all – the weather, what is going on inside the building, or the length of time.

This is not to say unconditional love is about blind adoration or enduring a one-sided relationship, nor is it the secret ingredient that makes every relationship smooth and without issues. Those are unrealistic. In reality, we can love unconditionally and still take note of issues, discuss them, and improve the quality of the relationship. 

In extreme cases, it is possible to part ways with the person we love unconditionally. In short, love (even when unconditional) is not enough to make a relationship work. However, it is an important ingredient, because without unconditional love, relationships become shallow and fragile, based solely on what each person offers rather than genuine acceptance and care. 

Without unconditional love, conflicts become devastating, and mistakes are not forgiven easily. Personal growth and happiness are impeded. Ultimately, without unconditional love relationships are ill-fortified to withstand the tests that life will inevitably put them through over time.

Unconditional love is not necessarily a state of being, but an ideal to be pursued. The decision to love without conditions is an enriching exercise that expands our self-awareness and capacity for compassion, making us better humans as we keep practising.

How To Love Unconditionally

You can’t force or demand unconditional love. It can only be received. But in a world where achievements and appearances are increasingly valued, unconditional love is becoming harder to find, and less appreciated when given. Sadly, without it, relationships often end badly or sail shallow. So, how do we go about it?

Loving unconditionally requires separating our affection from conditions and expectations. It involves looking past the superficial and connecting with the soul behind the physical form, just like that father at the bonesetter’s place. This requires accepting people holistically.

It isn’t easy, as we are conditioned to constantly judge and seek benefits. I mean, Capitalism, which most of the world practices, is literally built on the idea that everyone should bring something valuable to the table. Sadly, this mentality overflows into our relationships, so we end up treating all our interactions with people like transactions on the market. In fact, we are actively advised against having liabilities – i.e. things that don’t bring us gain. If the Father thought this way about his daughter with CP he would have probably abandoned or resented her.

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10 Steps To Unconditionally Love Someone

It takes a lot of work to strip away the titles, expectations, and standards to reveal the beauty of simply being. It takes a lot of unlearning and (often painful) life experiences (like losing friends and family) to break the hex of social conditioning so we can start loving unconditionally.

Here are 10 steps to help you love someone unconditionally.

Understand why unconditional love is important and beneficial

Reflect on how it feels to be truly accepted for who you are at your core, beyond your accomplishments or failures. How would you feel if you were assured that people/someone will still love you even if you lose your money and beauty?

Understand that unconditional love provides a safe space to be authentic without judgment. When you love people unconditionally, you are better able to appreciate them beyond what they have to offer – this deepens the intimacy of the relationship.

In fact, unconditional love is the bedrock of all healthy relationships. It helps people truly be vulnerable and work on issues rather than pretending and hiding resentment as problems seep through.

Practice self-love and self-acceptance first

You can’t truly love others unconditionally until you love yourself that way. Can you admit your imperfections? Are you honest about your weaknesses? Do you adore your strengths? Do you appreciate your gifts?

Practice self-compassion, acceptance of your flaws, and celebrate your strengths. This exercise – this complete acceptance and love of yourself, flaws and all – will help you look at others less critically and rather admire the ways they are trying.

The beauty we see in others is often a reflection of the beauty in ourselves. To love others unconditionally, you must first love yourself without conditions.

Identify your own conditions and expectations of the loved one.

We all have implicit conditions and expectations for the people we love, even if we don’t realise it.

Become aware of the checklist of qualities or behaviours you want others to continuously meet to receive your full love and approval.

These could be physical attributes, personality traits, achievements or failures to avoid. Perhaps you wish them to be a bit prettier, smarter, kinder, richer, etc.

Bring those conditions into your conscious awareness.

Challenge your own conditions and expectations of the loved one.

For each condition you’ve identified, honestly ask yourself why it lingers.

Is the expectation for the good of the person – do you want what is best for them? Or is it rooted in your own insecurities, control issues or selfishness?

Many expectations/conditions stem from societal pressures rather than authentic personal needs. Be willing to dismantle unfair, harmful prerequisites. No, they don’t need to be millionaires, 6ft, or have a PhD. Those are nice to have, but they do not make a person deserving or not deserving of love. If your love is hinged on such conditions – no matter how lofty or desirable – it means your love is conditional.

Actively invest time and effort into deeply understanding the other person

Unconditional love is active, not passive. It requires consistently investing quality time and effort into deeply understanding, accepting, and nurturing your loved one.

It really is not love if no effort is being put in.

Show up fully, listen intently, and make them a priority. Love is not just a feeling, it is all we do to ensure the beloved flourishes.

Separate the person from their behaviours and actions

When the one you love falls short or acts in hurtful ways, practice separating who they are at their core from what they did at that moment. Labelling someone as evil, worthless, or damned because of their actions shows you’ve tied your dislike for their actions to the core of who they are – hence you dislike them;  you do not love them.

Rather, have empathy for their humanness and the struggles they face, while still upholding your boundaries around unacceptable recurring behavior patterns. Ignoring harmful behaviours is not love either.

Love them, hate the behaviour. See their failures as opportunities to love them through their imperfections. Just like a father corrects his son with the intention that they grow up to be better for themselves.

Communicate openly and honestly to deepen the connection

You cannot truly know and love someone without engaging in open, honest and vulnerable communication. It is through open and honest communication that they reveal their soul – that which is to be loved unconditionally.

So, make time to listen to them. Don’t just focus on the fun stuff. Pay attention to their fears, insecurities, joys and dreams.

This deepens your understanding and acceptance of each other beyond superficial traits.

Celebrate and support the other person’s growth and evolution.

Growth means different things for different people. For an artist, it might be finally figuring out how to draw more lifelike paintings. For an entrepreneur, it might be learning a new skill, while for a farmer, it might be finally getting a tractor.

Unconditional love means supporting the other person’s personal growth and evolution, even if it takes them in an unanticipated direction that challenges your expectations. It is learning to appreciate their ever-evolving, authentic self, not your idea of who they “should” be.

If the other person finds meaning in doing something you can’t wrap your head around, celebrate with them when they share the news with you.

Be patient with yourself and the process

You don’t shake off decades of social conditioning and centuries of evolution instantly or even within a few days. It is natural for your reflex action to be judging and seeking benefits. So, don’t beat yourself up when you find yourself being superficial.

Unconditional love takes practice – a lifelong practice with constant struggle and occasional failings. Don’t harshly judge yourself when you inevitably fall short. You are human with instincts and flaws that can conflict with this ideal. When you fail, forgive yourself and simply recommit to the practice with self-compassion.

Accept that the other person may not reciprocate your unconditional love

Unconditional love is a solo journey. Though the intention is to nurture profound intimacy, the object of your love may not share your depth of devotion. They are not obligated to mirror the unconditional embrace you offer.

Release any expectation that your unconditional love be equally returned. Love simply for love’s sake, without attachment to how you are loved. Finding wholeness within yourself is key.

If they seem incapable of, or unready for, your boundless affection, have compassion for their limitations. Neither reject them nor yourself. Love does not require equal capacity from both parties.

Be at peace if receiving conditional love, no love, or love’s expression differing from your own. Your journey remains sacred regardless of how it is met.

Conclusion: “Love should not have conditions, but relationships should”

Unconditional love is the purest essence of love – freely given without expectations of reciprocity or contingencies. However, this doesn’t mean our relationships should have no boundaries or conditions.

While the love is unconditional, the relationship dynamics still require mutual care, respect and compatibility for it to be a nurturing connection for both people. Some connections, despite your boundless affection, may prove toxic or incompatible with your fundamental needs.

Unconditional love is about YOU freely giving love, not about subjecting yourself to unhealthy treatment from others. So love unconditionally, but be wise about which relationships you invest that unconditional love into. 


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