Love is perhaps one among the very few words that can be defined in many different ways. We bet every person’s definition of love would vary from another, and who could blame them? While for one love is friendship, care, and admiration, for the other it is fun, frolic, and a soulful connection. Clearly, with each couple comes a new perception of an ideal love relationship.
Love is a word that is used more often than meant, or, should we say that different folks have different experiences and understanding when it comes to this word.
This twisted-yet-powerful feeling has been a subject of research and study since time immemorial. Right from Sigmund Freud to Abraham Maslow to Theodor Reik, many prominent psychoanalysts have developed varied theories of love and attraction, to understand how one can achieve satisfaction and happiness when it comes to being “in love” with someone. The following sections discuss two of the most popular categorizations of love and more.
The Different Types of Love Styles
Didn’t we say that the one word ‘love’ has been used in the English language to describe the many feelings of the heart? Interestingly, the modern English language still lacks what the Greek language had even during the ancient times. Yes, the Greeks addressed love with four different words, depending upon how the feeling was induced. These are: Éros (intimate love/sexual passion), Agápe (unconditional love/charity for all), Philia (love for friends/between equals), and Storge (love for parents and children). Related to these Greek descriptions, Canadian psychologist, John Alan Lee, developed the theory of six types of love, in his book ‘The Colors of Love’ published in 1973. These six basic love styles are explained as under.
Eros is the kind of love that is ruled by an uncontrolled passion and desire for the other. The passion is mostly sexual in nature. Here, a person falls in love with the outer beauty of the person and is smitten by him/her. Named after the Greek god of fertility, Éros, this is what we call the love that has a sense of illogical craze for the other person. The perfect example would be the case of Romeo and Juliet.
Agape is the love marked by altruism and self-sacrifice. It is the union in which a partner isn’t someone who comes in one’s life to make things better, rather, he/she is considered as a gift, a responsibility, a blessing that needs to be cherished and taken care of, even if it costs one his/her own comfort and needs. The happiness of the other person comes before one’s own happiness. A wonderful example of this would be the beautiful story written by O. Henry, ‘The Gift of the Magi’.
Love isn’t always all fun and games, but this statement doesn’t apply to the ludus lovers! The couple isn’t serious about the longevity of the relationship, rather, the whole concept is taken as a game. Here, a breakup isn’t a major heartbreak as one tends to find a new replacement quite instantly. Also, the ludus type of lover isn’t someone you could bank on when it comes to commitment and loyalty. This relationship could be somewhat like the movie, ‘Dangerous Liaisons’.
This relationship is pretty much the ‘marry your best friend’ kinda union. One tends to develop that much-needed understanding and acceptance after knowing each other for quite a long time, and gradually, love blooms. Alternately, a storgic love can also be defined as familial, the kind that flourishes between you and your parents, siblings, and other family members. A good example of this union would be the classic movie, When Harry Met Sally.
Maybe in some cases, love is all about emotions, but there are couples who come close to each other with a practical approach! Yes, they use logic more than madness. The pros and cons of whether to be or not to be with each other are weighed. As the name suggests, the mindset is totally pragmatic when it comes to choosing a partner for life. An example for this relationship would be the engagement of Rose and Cal in the movie ‘Titanic’.
Mania is the love that takes an unfortunate shape of obsessiveness, psychopathy, dependency, and extreme form of possessiveness and concern. In this union, the partner becomes one’s reason to live, like a full-time job. The relationship can turn out to be potentially dangerous, as the partner may also become extremely violent and mentally unstable. If you have seen the movie Fatal Attraction, you would know what we’re talking about!
Forms of Love Based on the Triangular Theory of Love
Another popular theory, known as the ‘Triangular Theory of Love’ was developed by American psychologist Robert Sternberg. According to him, the three components that define a love relationship are Intimacy, Passion, and Commitment. It is one, or a combination of two of these three components that form a specific kind of love style. The diagram below explains the same.
Intimacy is placed at the top corner of the triangle, and is marked by the presence of care, connection, bonding, and attachment. This is when you end up liking a person. Next comes passion, where you feel sexually attracted to the other due to his/her beauty. This is where infatuation takes place. The third crucial component is commitment, which is the decision to stick to the other through thick and thin. The presence of only commitment results in empty love―the one that lacks passion and intimacy.
Based on the combinations of these three components, Sternberg came up with seven different kinds of love experiences. Although, an eighth kind is also existent, known as ‘nonlove’ where neither of the components are present. The following points explain these eight variants of the triangular theory of love. Have a look.
‘Nonlove’ is when there is absence of intimacy, passion, and commitment. There is absolutely no sense of attachment, attraction, or the need to stick around with the other person. Such relationships are the ones that are casual in nature, such as those with acquaintances.
Genuine liking towards each other is something that paves way for friendship. Here, there isn’t any sort of passion or the need to commit to each other, but the presence of intense intimacy―warmth, comfort, understanding, commonalities, etc.―is more than enough to keep this lovely bond going strong.
A romantic relationship mostly starts with a strong infatuation towards the other. It is a state which is marked by intense passion and desire, without any intimacy or plans of committing to each other. This initial arousal towards the other is what often paves way for the couple to develop intimacy, and decide if they are ready to commit their loyalty and time to one another.
Empty love is when two people are with each other, without the presence of intimacy or passion. In some cases, couples reach this stage after the infatuation and romance is over with time; while on the other hand, some people start off their relationship from this stage, and move forward into a passionate and intimate romantic bond, such as in case of arranged marriages.
When the passionate attraction combines with intimacy, a relationship that blooms with the sonnets of romance is formed. When in a romantic relationship, the lovers are enchanted by both the physical and emotional appeal of the other. The question of commitment isn’t emphasized at this stage, as both focus on diving deep into the realms of knowing each other, both in body and mind.
Companionate love has a great deal of intimacy and commitment, but lacks the passion and sexual desire. This kind of relationship is usually seen among long-term friends, family members, and some long-term couples, where the passion has faded away with time, but there still remains a strong sense of commitment and emotional need for each other.
This love style is ruled by passion, which is the reason for commitment towards each other. Basically, there is total absence of intimacy and any other logical thought. The emotional connection and understanding is practically insufficient, but the sex is what keeps them together.
This is the ideal love relationship and should be the goal of each and every couple. Here, all the three essential components of love―intimacy, passion, and commitment―are present. A couple that achieves this state is the ‘happiest couple’ on Earth! To be with someone who understands you, satisfies you both physically and emotionally, and is loyal and committed to you, is a blessing in itself.
We all hope to find that perfect love, don’t we? Where problems will be solved without much ado, where there wouldn’t be a single moment spent in loneliness and wishful thinking, where the world will seem complete …. Alas, that happens only in fantasy world. Reality, as we now understand, is far from this “ideal perception” that most of us tend to have of love.
Love is to work constantly with each other, to overcome differences with grace and understanding, to ensure that no one is taken for granted by the other, to be sure that the spark that brought us together is always around. And to do this, it is imperative to let practicality take over some emotional decisions.
An example for the same would be this: Most people fantasize about meeting a stranger who takes away the monotony of their lives and fills it with newness, thrill, and excitement. However, the reality is, as per research, that most people who come together in a relationship, do so based on familiarity, similarity, and proximity. Meaning, the closer, similar, and familiar the other person seems to be, the more are the chances of you two being together in a love relationship. Convenience and practicality rule this “emotional” decision.
While there are no universal rules when it comes to being in love, we sure hope that your love enters your proximity soon enough. Cheers!