Love as a concept comes with a lot of preconceived notions, particularly about how it should be “unconditional”. This idea of unconditional love in relationships is a noble one. By nature, all of us want to feel loved just as we are without having any extra conditions attached to it. When you accept a person for who and what they are (without any conditions, obviously) and care about their happiness without any concern for how it benefits you, that is what unconditional love means.
A lot of people crave unconditional love without actually understanding what it means, so it often ends up getting confused with tolerance. But tolerance is not a part of unconditional love and if the relationship has reached the stage of tolerance then that is not love. Unconditional tolerance is, in fact, quite contrary to love. Love is forgiveness, but not tolerance, because bad things still remain so if the one you love commits them and it is up to you to help them to not get into it again.
Everything except death is conditional. So, love is conditional too. Ship of Theseus is a thought experiment that raises the question of whether an object that has had all of its components replaced remains the same object fundamentally. Over a period of time, parts of a ship are replaced. Now, the question arises, is this a new ship or is it still the old one? Similarly, people change over time too. Imagine you love a person “unconditionally” and they have changed (and grown) into a different person. If that person changes and becomes someone you don’t like, would you still be in love with them? Or would you just love the idea of the person you thought they were? You may have loved the idea of the person you thought they were.
Loving a person “no matter what”, implies that you will accept behaviors that are unacceptable and unhealthy for you. Love can have a boundary after which we do not need to tolerate every act of the loved one. Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean that you do not love them, this boundary is the most loving gesture you can do for this other person!
Everyone has a standard of living and when you feel like that standard is fundamentally changing to maintain a relationship, then it is an obvious red flag. This is mostly followed by some amount of guilt which leads to manipulation. See, guilt comes naturally when we are standing up for our truth when we have (most often) been conditioned to abandon ourselves. We often learn a toxic definition of love which involves unconditional tolerance. Instead love is safe, love is calm, love is being yourself authentically. Love is not chaos, uncertainty, guilt or conflict. Now don't confuse this with the healthy conflict and discomfort that accompanies a relationship.
When we say love is unconditional we are making it static and making it easy for us to take it for granted. It's like wanting to be the best at what you do without actually putting in any effort into achieving that goal. Love is like a moth drawn to a flame, if you get too close to it you can burn yourself. But at the same time, if you have boundaries in love you still manage to preserve yourself while feeling its warmth.
Love is being at peace with the same person. Repeat it after me till it makes sense.