Love is unconditional when it endures despite unfavorable circumstances. 
People have a hard enough time figuring out what love is, and then
there's unconditional love, which some will argue is the only kind of
Think of love as an
action, not a feeling. A feeling is something we get from someone, and
when we stop getting it, we often change our behavior somehow. If we
have to do something, or be a certain way, in order to receive love,
that love is conditional. Instead, if
you start thinking of love as the behavior itself, the reward becomes
the feeling you get when you act a certain way, not when someone else
acts a certain way. And you can continue acting this way all the time,
regardless of how other people behave--it becomes an act of generosity.
As Stephanie Dowrick says, "love is not love except when it is
generous." Feelings can not last, but you can renew them continuously
with new actions.
Always ask yourself, what is the most
loving thing I can do for this particular person in this particular
moment? Love isn't really one size fits all; what might be a loving act
toward one person could be harmful to another person, in that it doesn't
help them get closer to becoming a truly happy human being.
Unconditional love is a new decision you need to make in every
situation, not a hard and fast rule you can apply to everyone all the
Remember that love doesn't mean making sure someone is
always comfortable. If you believe loving someone is about fostering
their growth, most people acknowledge that pain and discomfort are part
of growth, and if you shield someone from all pain or discomfort, you
are not loving them. So, don't confuse loving someone with blindly
making them comfortable, satisfying their desires, and shielding them
from any kind of pain. If you do, you are only making it difficult for
them to grow as human beings.
Consider that if love is
unconditional, it is given to everyone freely, including yourself.
Another reason the previous step is important is because if you don't
follow it, you're well on your way to becoming a people pleaser, which
means you are not being unconditionally loving to yourself. Instead,
recognize the times when doing what is best for you will occasionally
have you out of sync with another - Maryanne Radmacher calls this
understanding "the difference between tolerance and allowing mediocrity a
plot in your garden."
Forgive. Even if someone doesn't
apologize, it's inherently loving to both them and yourself to let go of
your anger and resentment toward them. Keep in mind Piero Ferrucci's
advice that forgiving "is not something we do, but something we are."
Again, don't mistake being willing to forgive for letting people walk
all over you. How you act (lovingly) toward the person will vary, but
your ability to practice unconditional love will be clouded if you hold
on to negative feelings.
Gauge how you feel. If you've ever
had a moment when you practiced unconditional love, whether
spontaneously or deliberately, you probably felt energized and
liberated, not drained and burdened. The more often you feel the the
former after acting a certain way, the more you're loving