5 Signs Your Significant Other Doesn't Love You Unconditionally, So Be Careful With Your Heart
Loving someone when they’re at their best is easy. But when things inevitably get more challenging, you start to see the true depth of someone’s affection for you. Everyone wants a partner who loves them without expectation or judgment, and who sees them for who they truly are — but a love story like that doesn’t come around every day. The signs your significant other doesn’t love you unconditionally are subtle, but they’re worth looking out for. You want to protect your heart to avoid misaligned expectations in a relationship.
Unconditional love means you’re willing to stick by someone’s side through thick and thin, and you believe the relationship is worth fighting for when things get tough. It allows you and your partner to open up to each other emotionally, knowing you’ll accept and embrace one another’s flaws. “Unconditional love promotes trust in a relationship,” relationship expert April Masini told Elite Daily. “When you have it, you feel that you can go the long run together, because it allows you to both be your unique selves without fear of rejection.”
But what if your partner’s love is conditional? How can you spot the signs? If you notice one of the following things, you might want to re-evaluate where your relationship stands.
1. They’re trying to change you.
If you notice your partner is pushing you to change or alter certain things about your lifestyle, they might not fully accept every part of who you are. “Someone that is trying to change aspects of you that you weren’t planning on changing is trying to model you into a different version of yourself,” explains behavioral scientist Clarissa Silva. Whether or not they realize it explicitly, they’re unsatisfied with certain things about the status quo of your relationship.
This isn’t to say that good relationships don’t require compromise — they do! And sometimes, lifestyle changes may be necessary to help your relationship thrive. For instance, if your partner wants to go out on Friday nights while you prefer to stay in, you may want to alternate your plans every other weekend to make you both happy. But if they’re trying to change things about you that are important to who you are — say, your dreams and aspirations, or your plans for the future — their love might be conditional on you making those changes. And that’s only going to lead to resentment down the road.
2. You’re constantly sacrificing your own needs for theirs.
Instead of compromising when arguments come up, you find that they always take the lead in making decisions. “If you find yourself acquiescing to your partner’s needs most of the time or defining what you want based on someone else in order to please them, you may be replacing your life’s desires in the long run,” Silva says.
If your partner typically gets their way during disagreements, it’s a sign that they aren’t ready to put your needs before their own. This might be a sign of conditional love, and it can result in you feeling like your opinions and goals don’t matter.
3. They pull back emotionally when things get tough.
A relationship is never going to be smooth sailing 100% of the time. And a crucial part of any couples’ bond is the way they interact when life gets difficult. If you find your partner pulling away when you need them most, it’s a sign that they’re not emotionally mature enough to support you. “When you really need them, they're nowhere to be found,” relationship expert Susan Winter tells Elite Daily. “Your partner's skill set is only equipped for the things that are fun, easy and comfortable. Not sickness, a family crisis, or an emotionally turbulent time.”
You never want to feel like you have to hide your life challenges from your partner. If they love you unconditionally, they’ll want to be by your side during the bad times as well as the good.
4. They’re emotionally needy.
When you need them, they’re not there for you — but when they need you, they expect you to drop everything to make sure they’re doing OK. “Emotionally needy people need you to fill the gap of what they are lacking themselves,” Silva explains. “They need you to be there to act as a lifeline to their emptiness.” They’re unable to provide support to you, but they need you to make their emotional needs a priority.
This can result in a relationship that feels super one-sided. You’re constantly supporting and validating your partner, but they don’t show you the same level of patience and love to you. It’s a sign that they aren’t prepared for the mutual give-and-take that will allow your relationship to thrive.
5. You feel insecure about the relationship.
Often, when things aren’t right, you’ll feel like something in your relationship is off — even if you can’t pinpoint exactly what it is. “In your heart of hearts, you know your partner isn't 100% in love with you,” Winter explains. “This is a 'gut knowing.'” Maybe you don’t feel fully confident to open up to your partner because you fear they won’t accept you.
If you’re worried about your partner’s love for you, the best thing you can do is talk to them. Tell them your concerns, and share your desire for more vulnerability and closeness. If your partner is open to hearing your worries, and if they encourage you to share your insecurities, it’s a good sign that they love you no matter how difficult things get.
“Unconditional love is special because it says 'you're always OK with me, no matter what,’” Winter explains. “It means that we can trust this person completely ... This creates the ultimate form of internal peace.” You deserve a relationship that makes you feel safe and wanted, no matter what challenges you face. And though unconditional love is rare, that doesn’t make it any less valuable. Trust in your ability to find a love that can weather the storms.