Conditional Relationship? 8 Red Flags Indicating You’re in a Relationship with Strings Attached


Conditional Relationship: Signs You Are In One

Relationships can be an incredible source of happiness, love, joy and contentment. However, not all relationships are the same; while some might feel as comforting as a warm blanket on a cold night, some are like an annoying sweater that doesn’t fit well. Being in a conditional relationship can make you feel like the latter.

Conditional relationships, in particular, can make you feel unsure and alone, because the relationship and the “love” comes with strings attached. So, how can you know if you’re in a conditional relationship or not?

We are going to talk about the signs of conditional love, what does conditional love mean and unconditional love vs conditional love in this article today. First, let’s try to understand what is conditional love.

Related: What is Unconditional Love? 8 Ways How To Love Unconditionally

What Does Conditional Love Mean?

Conditional love is when someone only cares for you if you meet certain requirements. Think of it like love that comes with conditions. For instance, imagine you’re dating someone who only spends time with you because you have a cool car or know the right people. That’s one of the best conditional love examples.

Or consider a parent who showers their kid with love only when they win a trophy, but ignores them if they make a mistake. It’s as if their love turns on and off at will, which can make you feel unfulfilled and unsure.

Conditional relationship vs unconditional love
Conditional Relationship? 8 Red Flags Indicating You’re In A Relationship With Strings Attached

Now, let’s explore the signs of conditional love, and conditional relationship.

8 Signs You Might Be In A Conditional Relationship

1. You feel like you’ll never be good enough for them.

If you’re always worried about needing to do more or be better, and you’re always made to feel like you just can’t meet the mark, it’s one of the biggest signs of conditional relationship.

When you constantly feel like you’ll never be able to meet their impossible expectations, maybe it’s time to rethink the relationship, for the sake of your sanity.

2. You just can’t seem to trust them, no matter how much you try.

Without trust, a relationship is doomed. Even if your partner shows their love for you during good times only, you still need a certain amount of trust for the relationship to survive in the long run.

However, if you always feel like you can’t trust your partner, or that they’re extremely selfish and never consider your well-being, it’s quite obvious that you’re in an unhealthy relationship.

3. You are slowly starting to notice that they gaslight you a lot.

Gaslighting is when someone manipulates your perception of reality to keep control over you. They might twist your words or make you doubt what you know for a fact is true.

One of the common gaslighting tactics involves words like “always” or “never.” Imagine you’ve approached your partner with a problem, and before you know it, instead of taking accountability for their actions, they dump the whole blame on you. They say something like “I hate it when you always blame me for everything, and you never show respect towards me in this relationship”.

4. You are made to feel special only when you’re in public.

Slowly it may dawn on you that your significant other praises you or is affectionate only when other people are watching.

Pay attention to this behavior, as it might mean they only love you under certain conditions, and there’s probably no good reason they can’t act the same way with you privately. The need to have other people around you to show their appreciation is not a normal thing at all.

Related: Love Without Attachment: 4 Ways To Love Unconditionally

5. You are always made to feel like you will never be equal to them.

This is one of the biggest conditional love examples.

When there’s an imbalance of power in a relationship, that’s a massive red flag of conditional love. It doesn’t matter if they manipulate you to do what they want you to do, or deliberately try to dominate you, it’s not normal, and don’t even try to see it as something which is not a big deal.

If you feel unequal, it might mean your partner will only show their love and affection if you’re seeing eye to eye. To love someone without conditions, you should accept them as they are.

Conditional relationship
Conditional Relationship? 8 Red Flags Indicating You’re In A Relationship With Strings Attached

6. You are the one who is always compromising in the relationship.

No matter how much you might sacrifice and compromise in the relationship, your partner will refuse to budge. They have to have it their way, and will always be blind to your perspective and deaf to what you’ve got to say, no matter the subject.

If this reminds you of your partner, then chances are you’re in a conditional relationship, they’ll only love you on their own terms. Moreover, if you stop giving into their demands, chances are they will leave you and won’t look back.

7. You can feel your mental and emotional health going down the drain.

If you sense that your mental health is deteriorating, then conditional love can be a huge reason. Maybe you struggle with feelings of inadequacy due to a lack of support and love from your partner, or you might struggle with your self-esteem because they constantly belittle you.

Depression might set in as well owing to the way your partner behaves with you, especially if they are always critical about you and aim to make you feel guilty and ashamed of who you are.

8. You are shamed and made to feel guilty about almost every little thing.

If your partner often makes you feel guilty or shames you by saying things like “If you really loved me, you’d do this”, watch out. These are warning signs of conditional love.

You should be with someone who lifts you up and stands by your side, not someone who always blackmails you to get something done. If they’re quick to point out your faults but hardly ever recognize your achievements, it’s more about their personal insecurities than anything to do with you.

Now that we know the signs of conditional love and how does a conditional relationship look, let’s talk about unconditional love vs conditional love.

Related: How Narcissistic Parents Gaslight Their Children: The Fake Photo On The Mirror Trick

Unconditional Love vs Conditional Love

1. Acceptance.

Unconditional love embraces you exactly as you are, This type of love accepts you, with your imperfections and everything. It doesn’t expect you to change or meet any specific standards to earn love and kindness.

Conditional love expects a lot from you, and it brings with it a set of expectations and demands. This kind of relationship treats love like a bargain, where affection is given or taken away based on whether you fulfill certain requirements.

2. Freedom.

Unconditional love allows you to be free and unrestricted, and it offers you the chance to explore, slip up, and mature as a person. It supports your growth without passing judgment or imposing restrictions.

Conditional love causes fear and insecurity. When love is conditional, there’s always that looming worry that you might not be good enough or that you could be pushed away for not living up to specific standards. This can shake your confidence and make you feel stressed out in your relationship.

3. Emotional intimacy.

Unconditional love fosters trust and intimacy, When you know someone loves you without conditions, you feel secure and valued. This sort of love lets you open up and connect on a deeper emotional level.

Conditional love can cause a lot of resentment, bitterness and disappointment. In conditional relationships, you might end up feeling angry or let down because you’re always trying to live up to what someone else expects from you. It’s easy to feel like you’re not enough and you’ll never be enough.

Unconditional love vs conditional relationship
Conditional Relationship? 8 Red Flags Indicating You’re In A Relationship With Strings Attached

4. Quality of love.

Unconditional love always lasts, and it always withstands the test of time and every challenge that life throws you way. No matter what troubles come your way, it remains strong and solid.

Conditional love doesn’t really last, because it depends on things like your achievements, looks, or other superficial factors and tends to be unstable. Conditional relationships are fleeting, and it doesn’t take much to destroy it.

Related: The Narcissist’s Conditional Asterisk


If you relate to any of these signs of conditional love, or you suspect that you might be in a conditional relationship, then you really need to rethink everything and start afresh. You deserve to be with someone who cares about who you are on the inside, not what you look like or how much you earn.

Give real love a chance, and you will see how beautiful it feels to be with someone who knows the value of true love and companionship.

what does conditional love mean
Conditional Relationship? 8 Red Flags Indicating You’re In A Relationship With Strings Attached

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