When we speak of unconditional love, we are talking about the ability to love someone without getting anything in return. To be able to feel loved by someone else, we need them to be able to accept who us for who we truly are.

When dating online, it can be difficult to show our true selves. It’s easier to create an avatar of ourselves, to put our best foot forward, so to speak. Often, we feel the need to show someone the best side of ourselves, the person we truly wish we were, and this is easily done behind the confines of a screen. In our desperate search for approval, we start to paint an untrue picture of ourselves. Plainly, if we’re not being true to ourselves, we will never be able to feel unconditional love. How could we when we aren’t even being honest about who we are?

It’s not impossible for unconditional love to thrive in an online setting, so far as we are being honest about who we are—including the sides we are most embarrassed or scared to show.

To experience unconditional love, whether in person or online, we need to start showing people who we truly are. To do so, share your weaknesses and mistakes, moments of regret and sadness, instances when you’ve been selfish—you must open up and explain what makes you YOU, bad habits and all. When we find someone who accepts the good with the bad and cherishes us despite, that’s when we open the doors to unconditional love.

This is not a one-sided street though. Unconditional love is only achievable if it goes both ways. If the person on the other side of the screen does not share with us who they are, warts and all, than we cannot love them unconditionally. Even more alarming, is that until they are honest with themselves and with us, they cannot love us unconditionally either.

Think about it: if we cannot accept and put forth who we are at heart, how can we accept and love the flaws we see in others? The old adage is true. We cannot know love until we love, or at least accept, ourselves. It is only once we are truthful about who we are that we can begin to accept and give love unconditionally to others.

So, be honest with yourself and with the person sitting next to you or on the other side of your screen. Love and relationships start and thrive with honesty, and unconditional love is impossible without it.