8 signs of unconditional love in a relationship, according to psychology

Navigating the terrain of relationships can be tricky, to say the least.

One moment, you’re over the moon, sure that you’ve found your soulmate, and the next, you’re questioning if what you feel is real love or just infatuation.

Let’s not even talk about those times when you’re head-over-heels for somebody, and yet you can’t shake off the nagging doubt: Is their love for me genuine? Or are they just going with the flow?

But here’s some good news: psychology has some pretty solid pointers on how to recognize unconditional love in a relationship.

In this piece, we’ll delve into 9 telltale signs that scream “this is real love”. 

1) They genuinely rejoice in your happiness

One of the most beautiful facets of unconditional love is the pure joy your partner feels when you’re happy.

It’s not just about them feeling happy because they’re happy. It’s about them basking in your happiness, as if it were their own.

For someone who loves you unconditionally, your joy becomes their joy. Your triumphs become their triumphs.

This is not about vicarious living, though. It’s not about them trying to live their life through you or stealing your thunder. Far from it.

This is about them genuinely wanting the best for you, and feeling truly elated when you achieve it.

It’s about them celebrating with you, not because they have to, but because they want to. Because they love you – unconditionally.

If this rings true for your relationship, then psychology would say that’s a pretty good sign of unconditional love.

2) They’re there for you in your darkest times

It’s one thing to be there in the good times, when life is all sunshine and rainbows. But it’s a whole different ball game to stick around when the storm hits, when life gets messy and ugly.

I remember a time when I hit rock bottom, a period filled with anxiety and self-doubt. It was as if a dark cloud had parked itself over my life. Most people I considered friends disappeared, unable to deal with my emotional turbulence.

But there was this one person who stuck around – my girlfriend (now wife). They didn’t try to fix me or offer empty platitudes. They just stayed, offering silent support and letting me know that I wasn’t alone.

That’s what unconditional love does. It stays even when things get tough. It doesn’t run at the first sign of trouble. It holds on and supports you through your darkest times.

3) They respect your individuality

I’ve always been a bit of a free spirit. I love my alone time, my personal space. I need it like I need air to breathe.

In the past, this has been a bone of contention in my relationships. Some partners couldn’t understand my need for solitude. They took it personally, saw it as a rejection.

But then I met someone who understood my need for space. They didn’t just tolerate it, they respected it. They recognized it as a part of who I am, not something to be fixed or changed.

They understood that love doesn’t mean morphing into one person. It means respecting and appreciating each other’s individuality.

Psychology says that’s a clear sign of unconditional love. If your partner respects your individuality, and loves you not despite it but because of it, then that’s unconditional love right there.

4) They listen to understand, not to respond

There’s a big difference between hearing and listening. Anyone can hear the words you’re saying, but not everyone listens to them.

In a psychological study, it was found that people who love unconditionally tend to be great listeners. Not just in terms of nodding along when you talk, but truly understanding what you’re saying.

They don’t interrupt you or jump in with their own experiences. They don’t try to solve your problems unless you ask them to. They simply listen – quietly, patiently, attentively.

They listen to understand your perspective, your feelings, your thoughts. They listen because they genuinely care about what you have to say.

5) They show empathy towards your feelings

We all have our ups and downs. Days when we feel like we’re on top of the world, and days when we feel like everything is falling apart.

In my journey, I’ve come to realize that it’s not enough for someone to just be there during these times. What matters is how they react to your emotions.

Someone who loves unconditionally doesn’t dismiss your feelings or tell you to “get over it”. They don’t belittle your emotions or make you feel guilty for having them.

Instead, they show empathy. They validate your feelings and let you know that it’s okay to feel the way you do. They don’t try to change how you feel; they simply offer their understanding and support.

When your partner shows empathy towards your feelings, regardless of whether they understand them or not, that’s a sign of unconditional love.

6) They make sacrifices for your happiness

Unconditional love isn’t just about grand gestures and sweet nothings. Sometimes, it’s about the little sacrifices that one makes for the happiness of the other.

If someone loves you unconditionally, they prioritize your happiness and well-being above all else. They make sacrifices, not out of obligation, but out of genuine concern and love for you.

If your partner is willing to make sacrifices for your happiness, even when it’s inconvenient for them, that’s a powerful sign of unconditional love.

7) They love you for who you are, not who they want you to be

Unconditional love isn’t about changing the other person. It isn’t about molding them into your idea of a perfect partner. It’s about accepting and loving them for who they are, flaws and all.

I used to be a perfectionist, always striving to be the best version of myself. But then I realized that my partner wasn’t in love with an idea of me, they were in love with me – just as I am, quirks and all.

This acceptance is what sets unconditional love apart. It doesn’t seek to change you or make you fit into a certain mold. It embraces all aspects of you – the good, the bad, and everything in between.

8) They believe in you, even when you don’t

I think one of the most profound signs of unconditional love is when your partner believes in you, even when your self-doubt is at its peak. When they see potential in you that you can’t see in yourself.

There was a time in my life when I had almost given up on my dream of turning Hack Spirit into a business. I was ready to settle for less because I didn’t believe in myself.

But my partner did. She pushed me to keep going, to not give up on my dreams.

That’s what unconditional love does. It believes in you, even when you’re struggling to believe in yourself. It sees your worth, your potential, even when you’re blind to it.

If your partner believes in you and encourages you to chase your dreams, even when the odds seem stacked against you, then that’s a pretty strong indication of unconditional love.

Final thoughts

Recognizing unconditional love can be a journey, one that requires patience and self-awareness. If you’ve found yourself nodding along to these signs, chances are, you’ve experienced this profound form of love.

The beauty of unconditional love is in its simplicity – it’s about accepting, supporting, and believing in each other. It’s about celebrating the good times and weathering the storms together. It’s about loving without expecting anything in return.

Take a moment to reflect on your relationships – do they embody these signs of unconditional love?

If not, don’t despair; remember that love is a practice and with time and patience, it can blossom into its most authentic and unconditional form.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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