‘Unconditional Love’ what is it? Is it toxic?

Khruvoyi Kotso
Dept of Vocation, Modern College, Piphema

In this article, we shall discuss the character of unconditional love. To begin with, what is unconditional love? It is defined as affection without any limitations or love without any conditions. Meaning there is nothing they say or do that will change the capacity of love you feel toward them. There is no condition in which you will not give up on loving and accepting someone no matter what.

Unconditional love. It sounds so good, so right, so worth pursuing, so righteous. It sounds like perfection, success, and peace, are something to look for in life.

However, can one, in real life, within human conditions show or give unconditional love? Imagine being able to accept another adult without him or her having to meet any conditions irrespective of their behaviour. But by all means, unconditional love is seen and given to babies, young children and unsound minds. But beyond that, what about standards, values, morals, legality, boundaries and ethical behaviour and actions? Can one let it slide from all these? That boundaries, issues, feelings and even conflict are against it as there is no condition and that we should accept everything because unconditional love dismisses them as there’s no condition by the word itself ‘unconditional’. In fact, more than accepting, it demands that we blindly love a person and their behaviours despite everything.

In a romantic relationship context, what if one partner treats the other wrongfully and is disrespectful? Yet their partner loves the other unconditionally? That he or she still accepts their mistakes and actions towards them. Won’t their partner take advantage of it in most cases? Does this mean if someone loved you unconditionally, that you would be free to treat them in whatever ways you wanted like lie, cheat, manipulate, exploit, abuse and never be called out? Isn’t that toxic?

In the context of a children-parent relationship, what if the parents love their child unconditionally despite having the child indulging in bad activities and behaviour? Won’t the child get spoiled? What if the child is indulged in drugs? It’ll become a habit and kill him or herself in the end. Shouldn’t there be conditions and consequences? There shouldn’t be unconditional love in cases like this and the child should be taught and corrected with conditions and consequences.

Accepting one’s flaws and imperfection is fine as it is already existent. However, what about repeated mistakes and behaviours? When we look at it this way, unconditional love is inherently toxic because it opens up to abuse, and manipulation and makes one narcissistic. It pushes us to our limits and sometimes over the edge. Through unconditional love, it is easy to lose oneself. We’re either craving for it or running away from it. And it is for this reason, that unconditional love has a defining place in all our lives and one's own definition of it.