Does Love Really Conquer All? What Love Can Overcome...And What It Can't

We’ve all heard it said that love can conquer all. But is that true, and should we even expect it to?

By Keelia Clarkson2 min read
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Love is powerful. Whether it’s for a boyfriend, a child, a best friend, or a parent, our love for someone will cause us to put their interests and needs before our own, to think of little ways to show them affection, to go out of our way to maintain the relationship. We don’t feel love for just anyone.

Our love, especially for a boyfriend, can also cause us to overlook things. While our boyfriend’s lack of motivation might’ve been a turn-off for us to start off with, once we’ve fallen in love, we find ourselves making more and more excuses for his shortcomings or ignoring the ways we don’t match all that well. 

Because isn’t love supposed to conquer all? That’s what we’ve all heard – that true love will be enough to sustain any relationship, overcome any challenge, and forgive any fault. We’re always assured that our love will be enough.

But is that really true? Can love actually conquer all, and should we even expect that of love? While there are many things that love can definitely overcome, there’s enough that it can’t.

Love Can Overcome Illness, Poverty, or Change

Loving someone requires a level of selflessness, a readiness to grow, and a radical acceptance of the other person, who is bound to be imperfect. We can’t totally love someone without being willing to sacrifice something or challenge ourselves in some way. 

This means that what might have made a relationship difficult in the beginning, like a debilitating illness or serious poverty, or even simply coming from completely different backgrounds that make it more of a challenge to connect, won’t keep us from deeply loving someone and choosing to be with them. This is what love can and should conquer, because in the grand scheme of things, an illness or social class shouldn’t have the last word.

But It Can’t Overcome Conflicting Values and Beliefs

Our values and beliefs, from religious to political to philosophical, inform how we see the world, live our lives, and what we need from a life partner. They decide what we believe to be moral and good, what kind of standards we hold ourselves and the people in our life to, what we’ll teach our future children, and how we vote.

We shouldn’t have to sacrifice our non-negotiables and boundaries to stay with someone.

What love can’t and shouldn’t overcome are values and beliefs that simply don’t align. As much as we might feel love for someone, if we take our values and beliefs seriously, a relationship in which they aren’t shared will either lead to one person giving up their long-held beliefs (which can lead to bitterness), or two people who can’t connect with or respect each other’s views.

Love Doesn’t Mean Not Having Non-Negotiables

The issue with subscribing to the belief that love can conquer all is that we end up equating being in love with ditching our non-negotiables and allowing our heart to walk all over our mind. We mistakenly believe that in order to truly be in love, we can’t have any deal-breakers or boundaries.

But we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our non-negotiables and boundaries in order to stay with someone – this is a recipe for disrespect from them and resentment from us down the road. In order to cultivate a love that’s lasting, is healthy for us, and leaves our boundaries intact, we need to manage our expectations of love – what it should be able to conquer, and what it shouldn’t be expected to.

Closing Thoughts

Love is incredibly powerful and can absolutely cross cultures, classes, and illnesses – because while some factors might make it more challenging to be with someone, we won’t be compromising our long-held values. But love can’t, and shouldn’t, conquer beliefs and values that don’t align.

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