True Love vs. Unconditional Love: 7 Differences You Should Know

unconditional love vs true love
Photo by Jonas Weckschmied

We all want to experience true love. But is it similar to what we call “unconditional love”? Well, knowing that love can sometimes be fleeting, how would you know it is “true” or “unconditional”?

While there are different kinds of love, true love is often referred to as romantic love. It is usually tested in times of losses, financial crises, aging, and sickness. If the person can stick with you when things fall apart, s/he truly loves you.

On the flip side, unconditional love is often associated with agape love (God’s love), familial love (between parents and children), and romantic love (between a couple). It is freely given without strings attached.

Although true love is quite synonymous with unconditional love, there are still subtle differences between these two. Both do share almost the same qualities, and ultimately, can give you memorable experiences.

Here are 7 differences you should know between true love and unconditional love:


1. True love sets from the time you fall for someone; unconditional love takes time to develop.

It feels so wonderful when there is true love. However, it can naturally diminish. One example is shown in a married couple. If the relationship is already unhealthy, both can decide to fix it or split up.

Unconditional love, on the other hand, takes time to take root. It does not happen right away and is reflected in a wedding vow. You are devoted and committed to your partner in both good and bad times. In other words, you constantly work things out to make your relationship better and long-lasting. Despite the difficulties, you stay by their side – for better and worse, in sickness and health, for richer and poorer.

Thus, it is resilience that sets true love and unconditional love apart.

Also read: Can True Love Develop Over Time? 10 Reasons Why You Can Learn to Love


2. True love is sometimes a momentary feeling; unconditional love is both deliberate and unintended.

As much as love grows, it also changes. It is a fact that nothing is certain in this world. People’s feelings, thoughts, and actions may alter over time. Just like any other relationship, it is possible to fall out of love at any time.

Also, you may feel true love toward someone, yet you can’t be together as a couple. No matter how you love the person, you two don’t just fit in.

Unconditional love endures by loving and understanding your partner for who s/he is. You ensure to set healthy restrictions on his/her actions. It is developed throughout a relationship.

But you can also intentionally love someone. You can learn it by becoming dependent on yourself for your own happiness. It will set you on track to loving a person unconditionally as you work on your intrapersonal needs.

Also read: Is True Love a Choice or a Feeling? Why You Should Work on Both


3. True love is magical; unconditional love is not based on fairytales.

It is hard to find true love. Just like those in fairytales, many desire it to experience. The physical and emotional connection you have to someone runs immensely deep. Without that person, life would not be complete. He or she means the world to you.

Individuals stay together long enough when there is unconditional love. It is essential for long-lasting relationships. For instance, you discover more hidden qualities of your partner when your relationship with him/her becomes mature. By the time that bad habits and fallibilities are revealed, things tend to change sometimes. When this happens, you don’t have to end the relationship right away. Unconditional love exists when you choose to continue loving without expectations.


4. True love comes naturally; unconditional love is hard to exercise.

You are probably not in love if you keep on doubting your feelings toward your partner. In any relationship, you don’t need to force true love. It emanates naturally. Being with that person seems to be normal and ordinary. There is no need to question if you see yourself together in the future.

On the other hand, loving a person unconditionally is never easy. When unpleasant things happen, unconditional love is tested. Even parents tend to love their children conditionally. Yes, these kids might be loved no matter how they behave. But it is because they are their offspring. According to a philosophy professor, parents love their children because they are theirs.


5. True love does not demand; unconditional love does not tolerate abuse.

When there is true love, you don’t require the person to conform to your set of standards. In the same way, your partner should not force you to change either. The reason why you are together is because of your love for each other.

Loving unconditionally, however, can be demonstrated without tolerating any abuse, poor treatment, and other relationship-related issues. It should not destroy yourself by yielding to damaging self-sacrifice.

Although it involves some sacrificial act, it does not require disregarding your own needs. When there are conflicts, you deal with them and look for possible solutions. If the relationship has already become abusive, you ask for help or get away with it without delay. Remember that unconditional love is not all about sacrifice. Compromise is also essential.


6. True love means fully accepting your partner; unconditional love is not loving everything about the person.

True love is measured by how you accept and understand someone – regardless of his/her manners and personality. You totally adore, appreciate, and love the person together with his/her imperfections. In other words, you don’t try to make him/her a different person.

Unconditional love accepts one’s fault without judgment but hates any harmful behavior. It’s human nature to have flaws. For this reason, it is also typical to detest your loved one’s fallibilities.

Don’t ignore the nasty attributes of the person and pretend s/he is perfect. It only averts him/her from making needed changes. You can let go of the situation that is already unhealthy. Anyway, you can still love unconditionally and offer forgiveness even without staying with the person.

Also read: 15 Signs of True Love in a Relationship


7. True love starts by finding self-love; unconditional love is an unselfish act.

Loving others is natural when you begin to love yourself first. This self-love glows inside you that it attracts other people. It allows you to be yourself. Before loving others, do not forget to stay in love with your entire being first.

To love unconditionally means being selfless without expecting anything in return. In short, you are not in it for yourself. You love without conditions. Despite the shortcomings, the relationship continues.


Experience true love in an unconditional way.

You should not base your love on what other people do to you in return. Simply offer it because you are thankful for them. Above all, it does neither alter nor fade though you have seen them at their worst.
In reality, love is not all about the happy endings you see in movies and fairytales. In fact, no relationship is perfect. All the trials and hardships help to make it strong and resilient. So, if you set limits and other conditions, it is already toxic. Learn to respect their boundaries regardless of how intimately you love them.

What’s more, both true love and unconditional love are amazingly magnificent in their own right. True love is unconditional, and unconditional love is one of the characteristics of true love.

Also read: God’s Love vs Human Love: 13 Differences You Should Know

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