Since being welcomed into a “chosen family,” I’m starting to notice all kinds of ways they show love that my dysfunctional family never did. I’m learning what unconditional love looks like, and I wish my eyes had been opened much sooner!
If you never learned healthy ways to express love, but you want to learn, find some examples below:
1. Allowing them to spend time with other people.
2. Being happy for their accomplishments, even if you wouldn’t personally consider them accomplishments.
3. Letting them communicate in their own time (i.e. understanding their need for boundaries).
4. Going the extra mile to see them happy. For instance, if they drink instant coffee every morning, waking up a little early and making them a pot of real coffee as a treat.
5. Showing them it’s fine when they accidentally screw up.
6. Understanding who they are, not just what they say. This can be by making creative gifts with personal meaning, writing notes based on what’s important to your partner, pointing out something they’d want to see, etc.
7. Making eye contact because you want to see them and their reaction to the world.
8. Remembering something small from your last conversation with them.
9. Caring about their preferred love languages. For instance, if you like words of affirmation, but they prefer acts of service, you might go out of your way to make them a meal instead of just saying “I love you.” Unconditional love means that each others’ needs are important and respected.
10. Welcoming constructive feedback and conversations about making your relationship better.
These ways to show unconditional love are really just the tip of the iceberg. Real love means caring about your partner’s individual and sometimes quirky needs (which makes it hard to create more than a short list of universal ways to express your love).
The main takeaway is to pay attention, and to appreciate your partner (/friend, sibling, work spouse) for who they are – not just for what they give you. That’s unconditional love.