The subject of love has come up so much in the past week for me! It has been brought up in three different friend groups, so it has really made me start to think, and thus, this blog was born.
What is love? (Cue obnoxious Haddaway song.) What does this word that we throw around so flippantly mean? What really does it mean to love someone? Are there different types of love?
"I LOVE that song!"
"Alright, I love you, Mom. Bye!"
"I really miss my dog; I love her so much!"
"Yes! They have buffalo-chicken pizza today! I LOVE buffalo chicken pizza!"
"I have the best girlfriend in the world! I love her so much!"
Wait a minute now.... How can we use one word to show our connection to a song, our mother, a dog, pizza, and our girlfriend? That seems so.... weird... Can you imagine trying to describe this word to people in another culture who are trying to learn English? "Well, this word actually has about twenty different meanings, depending on the context..." I would die....
So what IS love!? As a Psyc Major, there are a TON of theories on it. Elaine Hatfield suggests there are two types: Compassionate and Passionate. John Lee says in his book The Colors of Love that there are three primary styles and two secondary styles, as listed below:
- Eros - loving an ideal person
- Ludos - loving as a game
- Storge - loving as friendship
- Mania - (Eros + Ludos) an obsessive love
- Pragma - (Ludos + Storge) a realistic or practical love
- Agape - (Eros + Storge) a selfless love
Although Lee's looks nice, (and they are based on Greek words) I think he is still missing some things. Robert Sternberg seems to get pretty close to what I believe are different forms of love in his Triangular Theory of Love (Sternberg loves his triangles!). Sternberg says there are three major forms of love and how they express themselves together form different types of love, as expressed in a triangle. Thus, there are seven forms of love:
- Liking/Friendship/Intimacy - this is the love you feel from having a close connection with a person, normally based on proximity to the person, how often you see them, and how much you have in common
- Infatuation/Passion - pure passion; a romantic love that is mostly physical and superficial in the sense that it is based on instinctual feeling and reaction
- Commitment - a love that will stick it out to the end, no matter what happens; the two people are bonded together, and although they may not like each other, they will still be together no matter what.
- Romance - when Intimacy and Infatuation are brought together, the love expressed is very physical and moves very fast, this love is what Gary Chapman calls the "in love experience" in his book The Five Love Languages (which I discuss in my blog Languages). Romantic love is what we see in most Hollywood movies. This love only lasts for a season (on average anywhere from 2-5 years) and will fade
- Companionship - combining Commitment and Intimacy, this is the kind of love most people have with their friends. When someone says "I love you, man!" this is what they mean. In Companionship, there is no physical part of the relationship, it is just a mutually beneficial relationship where both parties care about the other and are commited to each other. Many parent-children relationships are like this; there is a bond deeper than normal friendships, to where when the going gets rough, the parties will be there for each other.
- Fatuousness - is probably the most interesting and bizarre forms of love by combining Commitment and Infatuation. This love can best be described as courtship. Sometimes people in this love really don't know each other well, but they have this natural connection to each other they can't describe. This is true "chemistry" in a manner of speaking; they may not really like what the other person is doing, or even share interests, but they will stick together and are passionate with each other. These relationships will last because of the commitment part of it, but they will never really be friends with each other.
- Consummation - when you fuse Intimacy, Infatuation, and Commitment, you get the ultimate, perfect form of love. This love is selfless, looking towards the needs of the other person. The couple here is romantic with each other, yet still has fun as friends, sharing the same interests and activities. The couple also knows that they will stick together even when they are mad at each other because of the commitment aspect of the relationship.
I do like Sternberg's Triangular theory of love, but I think he is missing one vital aspect to a relationship: Trust. Looking through all of those, I would add a forth element, creating fourteen forms of love (which are the exactly the same as above, only with the trust component added) as described:
- Acquaintanceship - friendship without trust
- Friendship - friendship plus trust
- Infatuation - physical love and attraction without trust
- Passion - physical love and attraction with trust
- Commitment - a relationship that will stick together without trust
- Loyalty - a relationship that will stick together with trust
- Intimacy - Friendship + Passion
- Romance - Acquaintanceship + Infatuation
- Companionship - Friendship + Loyalty
- Affiliation - Acquaintanceship + Commitment
- Courtship - Passion + Loyalty
- Fatuousness - Infatuation + Commitment
- Actualization - Friendship + Passion + Loyalty
- Consummation - Acquaintanceship + Infatuation + Commitment
Did I make it confusing enough? What if I said there was one more? What if i told you there was one that trumps them all? I believe there is one vital form of love that we are missing:
15. Agape - this love is the truest, most pure form of love, one that is the beginning of all true love. This love is God's love, the one He bestows on us and the one that He gives to us to give others. This love is unconditional, there is NOTHING anyone can do to earn it or deserve it. Like a gift, agape must be given, and it is given without any strings attached. This way, we can really love those who are unlovable. This love drives those who can't experience it because they haven't experiences the Holy Spirit insane because it makes no sense to them. (Check out my blog "Fred" for an example of this.)
So now you know how I view love. What do you think? Do you agree? Is it too confusing? Find your opinions and tell them to me.
Following His Call,
(1 John 4:8)