Conditional Love vs. Unconditional Love

Conditional Love vs. Unconditional Love

In mental health, Recovery by Tree House Recovery

We hear these phrases a lot: Conditional love and unconditional love. While they are frequently thrown around in everyday speech, it can be difficult to discern conditional love from unconditional. Many of us grow up with some kind of trauma which teaches us the wrong kind of love. It takes practice, patience, and healing to understand and integrate the differences between conditional and unconditional love. Here, we will discuss the differences between these two terms.

What is Conditional Love?

Conditional love doesn’t feel very nice. In fact, it doesn’t always feel like love at all. When someone loves us conditionally, it means that they put terms, restrictions, or rules on the giving of their love. While a person can have feelings of deep care or affection for you, their love is conditional if it feels like you have to earn it. Additionally, conditional love often vanishes during difficult times. We can perhaps term this “fairweather love,” meaning that your partner, family member, or friend, emotionally or literally bails when times get tough. Conditional love doesn’t feel good. It’s not a tried-and-true love and often it can cause deep pain to those on the receiving end. If someone is making you feel unworthy of love, even at your darkest times, this person is offering conditional love which, as we will learn, is contrary to the very definition of love.

What is Unconditional Love?

Like many truly spiritual and transcendent things, unconditional love is difficult to describe. To put it simply, it’s love without conditions, limits, or barriers. In unconditional love, there is no sense of: “I will love you if…” or “I will only love you when you behave differently.” Unconditional love is boundless and it’s often compared to the kind of love that God (or the universe) has for us. There’s no sense of owing or repayment. Love is given freely and without cost. Unconditional love is not an exchange, it’s an offering. Unconditional love is deeply healing because it means we are seen and accepted for who we are, even during our most difficult times. Perhaps most importantly in recovery, we must learn to unconditionally love ourselves.


Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon uses cutting-edge techniques in individualized programs to help men achieve freedom from addiction. Taking a holistic, sustainable approach to the inner and outer effects of addiction ensures you or your loved one will emerge with the confidence and skills to manage your addiction independently. No one is beyond help- our Admissions Counselors are available 24/7 at (503) 850-2474