Romantic love is that often-elusive feeling we all want to experience. Art, music, poetry, religion, and most recently science, try to explain and express it; we’ve all had it, and most of us have lost it at one time or another in our lives. The reason love can be so vastly bi-polar, (one minute tragic, one minute wonderful), is because of the individuality of our personalities combined with the situations we’re in. Add to that our past experiences, and we find endless combinations of drama, excitement, hope, despair, fun, fulfillment, joy and sorrow.
A study published in the British Journal of Social Psychology (written by Simon Watts of Nottingham Trent University and Paul Stenner of University College London), identifies nine different types of love as perceived by people, proving that love means different things to us at different times, and also means different things to different cultures. As human beings, we change, and in turn, so does our love, or at least our perceptions and experiences surrounding it.
Which types of love have you experienced or have in your life right now?
1. Mutual Trust, Recognition & Support. In the study, this was the most common way people thought about love, although it’s also the most difficult to achieve. This type of love is about mutual effort, ensuring both partners are content, fulfilled and listened to. Both parties are able to grow personally, and are supported in doing so.
2. Cupid’s Arrow. Characterized by intense physical attraction and passion; the parties involved often feel they’re not in control of the outcome and they can lose their sense of themselves as they abandon all in favour of this feeling.
3. Hedonistic Love. This is a selfish love, based on sex and individual feelings of pleasure and excitement, not commitment.
4. Love as Ultimate Connection and Profound Feeling. Love has a spiritual basis and is something we should strive and practice no matter what.
5. Demythologized Love. The realist’s definition of love, it discounts the “fairy tale” version, and sites communication, compromise, patience, and hard work as the ingredients of love.
6. Love as Transformative Adventure. The free-spirit’s perception, love takes us in many exciting directions, and creates new opportunities. This type of love can be very good, or very bad…
7. From Cupid’s Arrow to Role-Bound Relationship. This relationship starts off with much passion and excitement, and then transforms into common man/woman roles, like husband and wife, mother and father etc. This relationship often becomes a disappointment as the excitement is lost when everyday life seems to eclipse it.
8. From Cupid’s Arrow to Friendship. This type of relationship brings security and comfort, but is often lacking in personal growth.
9. Dyadic-Partnership Love. The two parties merge into one functional unit, placed ahead of each person’s individual needs. Also difficult to achieve, researchers say it may be the most
significant and fulfilling way to connect with a mate.
As we can see, there are vast differences in the way we perceive love. When two partners have different viewpoints on what love is, what their role in it is or what they think love’s role is in their lives, expectations are often not met, and drama ensues. It’s important for us to figure out what kind of love we want in our lives, and to act accordingly; saying we want Mutual Trust love while actually being emotionally addicted to Hedonistic Love will only create discord in ourselves and our lives. Make sure you understand the type of love your partner is willing/able to give as well, and you’ll find love will make a lot more sense.