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  • Writer's pictureFlamme - The Couples App

Love Without Limits: Should Love Truly Be Unconditional?

Couples argue about problems in relationship
Photo Credit: Vera Arsic

In a society where the narratives of "unconditional love" are celebrated and romanticized, a compelling counter-narrative is gaining traction, emphasizing the importance of maintaining standards within relationships. Stephan Speaks, a prominent relationship coach, recently shared a powerful message on TikTok: "If your partner thinks you're never going to walk away from them no matter what they do, then you've lost. That's a horrible place to be in." This statement challenges the conventional wisdom surrounding unconditional love, sparking a necessary conversation about the health and sustainability of romantic relationships.

What Is Unconditional Love?

Unconditional love, in its idealized form, suggests a love without limits, conditions, or boundaries. While this concept may seem noble and pure, it raises significant concerns when applied to romantic relationships. The idea that one should stay with their partner "no matter what" can lead to a dynamic where disrespect, neglect, and even abuse are tolerated under the guise of unconditional love.

Historically, older generations were often guided by the principle of staying together at all costs. This commitment, while admirable in its dedication, frequently overlooked the necessity of mutual respect, growth, and fulfillment. As a result, many couples remained in stagnant or unhealthy relationships, believing that their unwavering loyalty was a testament to their love.

The Problem with Unconditional Love

The concept of unconditional love in romantic relationships is problematic because it can blur the lines between devotion and dependency, between love and loss of self. True love should empower individuals to thrive both within and outside the relationship. It should be a balanced partnership where both individuals feel valued, heard, and respected.

The dialogue sparked by Stephan Speaks invites us to reconsider our perceptions of love and commitment. He states, "We need to get to a place where we both understand that as long as we show up the way that we need to show up for each other, we have each other's back. We will be here. But neither of us will tolerate an unhealthy relationship and someone who blatantly does not want to work on making things better."It's crucial to understand that love, in its healthiest form, is not about unconditional surrender but about a continuous choice to support, respect, and grow with each other. This perspective doesn't diminish the depth or authenticity of love; instead, it enriches it, making it a conscious choice rather than an obligation borne out of fear or habit.

Knowing Your Limits

Stephan's video highlights the importance of individuals knowing what they will and won't accept in their relationships. Here are several reasons why identifying and communicating these limits can be beneficial:

1. Promotes Mutual Respect and Growth

When both partners understand that their relationship is contingent upon treating each other with respect and working together towards growth, it creates a foundation of mutual appreciation and effort. Knowing that certain behaviors will not be tolerated encourages individuals to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts constructively, and continuously strive to be better partners.

2. Encourages Accountability

Having standards or conditions within a relationship foster a sense of accountability. Each partner becomes responsible for their actions and their contributions to the relationship's health. This accountability can prevent the development of toxic dynamics, such as taking one another for granted or neglecting the other's needs.

3. Enhances Individual and Collective Wellbeing

By setting boundaries, individuals can protect their emotional and psychological wellbeing. A relationship where both parties are committed to maintaining a healthy environment benefits not only the individuals but also the relationship itself. It becomes a source of support, joy, and growth, rather than a cause of stress or pain.

4. Supports Personal Autonomy

Contrary to the notion that conditions may cage or restrict love, they actually support personal autonomy within the relationship. Recognizing that love is a choice made daily, and not an obligation, empowers individuals to stay together for the right reasons—because they genuinely want to, not because they feel they have to.

Overcoming Challenges Together

Relationships, by their nature, involve navigating complexities and overcoming obstacles together. The essence of maintaining standards is not about seeking perfection or fleeing at the first sign of conflict but about fostering an environment where both partners are committed to growth, communication, and mutual support.

When faced with difficulties, the first step should always be to communicate openly and strive to understand each other's perspectives. Working through problems, rather than avoiding or escaping them, is fundamental to strengthening the bond between partners. It's in these moments of vulnerability and teamwork that relationships often find their deepest roots and potential for growth.


In conclusion, while the ideal of unconditional love is deeply ingrained in our cultural narratives, it's time to shift the conversation towards a more nuanced understanding of love—one that recognizes the importance of respect, mutual growth, and healthy dynamics. By embracing love with standards, we pave the way for more fulfilling, respectful, and enduring relationships.

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