What is Love?

What is love?

What is love?

How would you personally define love? Researchers have identified six different ways in which people commonly define love.

By: Peggy Anderson

When people say “I love you” they can mean very different things. How would you personally define love?

Researchers have identified six different ways in which people commonly define love. These are sometime difficult to recognize since each individual may define love in a way that combines more than one style:

Romantic Love
This love is an all-consuming emotional experience. It is typical to feel love at first sight and with romantic love physical attraction is always present. The romantic lover might say that “At our first touch, I knew that this was love.”

Possessive Love
This person is emotionally intense, jealous, and completely obsessed with the beloved. The possessive lover is highly dependent on the beloved, and therefore fears rejection. Preoccupation with the loved one swings quickly from peaks of joy to valleys of despair. This lover could say, “When my lover doesn’t pay attention to me I feel sick all over.”

Best Friends Love
Love like this is a comfortable intimacy that grows slowly over a period of time from companionship, mutual sharing, and gradual self-disclosure. As best friends they are thoughtful, warm and good companions to each other. They might feel that “The best kind of love grows out of a long friendship.”

Pragmatic Love
This type of love is just as the term implies. Each seeks out a suitable mate, and only asks that the two partners be compatible and satisfy each other’s practical needs. They are generally logical and thoughtful when selecting a partner, and look for contentment rather than excitement. They would likely say that “It makes good sense to plan your life carefully before choosing a lover.”

Altruistic Love
Individuals experiencing this type of love are unconditionally caring, giving, and forgiving. Love to them means a duty to give to the loved one with no strings attached, and with no expectations that it will ever be returned. Altruistic love is expressed through self-sacrifice, patience, and faith in the beloved. These people would probably say that “I try to use my own strength to help my lover through difficult times, even when I don’t agree with what they are doing.”

Game-playing Love
To these people love is a game. They enjoy the challenge and play to win. In game-playing love, strategy is all important, and commitment is to be avoided at all costs. They may have several relationships going at once and none of them ever last very long. When the love partner becomes boring or too serious, it’s usually time to move on to the next. Never serious about a relationship these people feel that “Part of the fun of being in love is testing one’s skill at keeping it going and getting what one wants from it at the same time.”

Since love can often be seen as combinations of several specific love styles, and individuals are rarely a “pure” type you might recognize “passionate love” as a mix of romantic and possessive love. On the other hand, “companionate love” combines being best friends and being pragmatic.

Researchers have also determined that gender differences in love styles also exist. In general, men are more likely to be romantics who believe in love at first sight or game players who enjoy the thrill of the chase, while women are more likely to adopt a best friends or pragmatic approach to love.

Information is derived from studies by: Lasswell &Lobsenz, 1980; Lee, 1973

Photo: Andrew Jalali