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The 7 Stages of Unconditional Love

By Alisa Bowman |

For a story on, counselor and therapist Michelle Maliniak tells the sad tale of her alcoholic niece. Initially, Maliniak was angry and righteous, trying to control every angle of the situation and cure her niece of her addiction. “Then something changed. I changed. I learned. I forgave and let go. I realized that this was the way it was going to be … I stopped judging her or trying to stop her … Loving someone unconditionally means you understand that you cannot control them,” Maliniak was quoted as saying.

The niece ended up dying from her addiction at age 36, but Maliniak has no regrets because “she was loved.”

It’s beautiful. It’s heartbreaking.

It’s the kind of story that forces me to wrestle with the question, “Would I ever, in a million years, be strong enough to love that awesomely?” After all, when it comes to unconditional love, we all want more of it in our lives. We want everyone around us to love us for who we are and not for who they want us to become. We want them to accept our quirks and forgive us for our faults. We deserve this. Am I right?

Yet, when it comes to offering that same love to others around us, suddenly strings get attached. We come up with all sorts of excuses, right? If we treated others the same way we want them to treat us, all sorts of bad things would happen! We can’t just allow people to do dangerous things, make bad decisions, and wear ugly sweaters and ties. No, we must stop them!

It’s a sticky double standard, isn’t it?

We can all become unconditional lovers, though. We just need to navigate all the stages of love.

The 7 Stages of Unconditional Love

Which Stage Are You In?

Click through to find out!

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About Alisa Bowman


Alisa Bowman

Alisa Bowman is a journalist who writes regularly about relationships for Babble, Prevention, Family Circle and many other national outlets. She is the author of Project: Happily Ever After and the creator of the award-winning site Project Happily Ever After. Read bio and latest posts → Read Alisa's latest posts →

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