Understanding Different Types Of Love

Updated February 3, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When many people think of love, they might think of whirlwind romances, extravagant romantic gestures, and elaborate tales of soulmates. But not everyone wants a romantic relationship when desiring love in their lives, and there are many other forms that this deep and significant connection can take.

When considering the role of love in your own life and what you might be looking for, it may be helpful to consider a few different types of love and how you might determine what kind of love you desire. 

What Is Love?

Understanding Yourself And The Many Forms Of Love Are Important

Love can be defined as “a complex emotion involving strong feelings of affection and tenderness,” though different people may have slightly different understandings of what love means, and it may look different in different cases. 

For instance, you can love your partner, your children, your friends, your pets, and yourself—among other things. Love doesn’t always involve feelings of a romantic nature, but it may typically involve some degree of deeper connection to the person or entity on the receiving end of your sentiments. 

Types Of Love

Love has been studied, written about, and theorized about extensively throughout history. When trying to examine the role of love in your life and the types of love you may desire, it may be helpful to consider a few different types of love according to the ancient Greeks:

  • Eros. Romantic love, or eros, involves passion and physical attraction. This is the type of love that many people may think of when they think of a romantic connection between partners. Many people can relate to the desire for this kind of passion and a physical connection with someone, whether it is a short-lived flame or the beginning of something that might develop into a deeper, more long-lasting connection. 

  • Ludus. This is considered a “playful” form of love that might involve activities such as flirting, teasing, and laughing, especially in the early stages of a connection with someone. With this type of love, you might be smitten with someone new and get butterflies when you see them. 

  • Pragma. This is the type of love that involves a lasting commitment to someone else. It may sometimes be referred to as “practical” or “pragmatic” love, which may involve spending years of your life with another person, learning them inside and out, and choosing to handle all of life’s ups and downs with them. This type of love involves a sense of loyalty and reliability.

  • Philia. Philia is a form of love often found in friendships. It’s a type of platonic love that involves closeness and trust with a friend. It often revolves around respecting each other, feeling comfortable in each other’s presence, enjoying each other’s company, and feeling a sense of camaraderie.

  • Storge. Storge, or “familial love,” applies to the love experienced between family. It may involve love between siblings, cousins, or parents and children, for example. It may also apply to close family friends or childhood friends that feel more like family. It may sometimes feel like a type of love that’s felt along with an obligation to care for someone or an underlying bond, but it can easily coincide with more affectionate feelings with those who you genuinely get along with.

  • Philautia. Philautia is the kind of love that is felt towards oneself. Philautia involves self-love, self-respect, self-compassion, and essentially being a kind friend to yourself. Loving yourself and taking the time to keep your mental and physical health balanced can all help contribute to a happy and healthy life.

  • Agape. Agape love is a selfless and unconditional love, which may be found among the altruistic and those who aim to serve others and better the world around them. This does not have to be felt for a specific individual but instead can be felt for groups of people in all types of situations. People who feel a strong “agape” love may be very involved in their communities or interested in improving the environment, donating to charities, or helping others who may be in need. 

  • Mania. Finally, mania refers to an obsessive, unhealthy love that can involve jealousy, anger, and possessiveness. While the other types of love may be positive feelings that many hope to have, this one may be a red flag that can be akin to “toxic” love. 

What Kind Of Love Are You Looking For?

Understanding Yourself And The Many Forms Of Love Are Important

When examining your current relationships or what you are looking for in the future, it may be helpful to consider these different types of love and how they might work in your life. It is possible for one relationship to include many different types of love, and it is also possible for different relationships to fulfill different types.

You may find that multiple types of love can be experienced simultaneously in your relationships.

For instance, someone might be searching for a deep, romantic relationship with a partner, where they could experience passion, playfulness, and commitment. Meanwhile, they might continue to develop close friendships and close family bonds, while also putting effort into loving themselves and contributing to their community. 

Different people may desire different types of love from different relationships and at different points in their lives—determining what type of love you are looking for can depend on your personal preferences and needs at a particular time.

Further Help Through Therapy

If you’re struggling with love in your life, having trouble understanding exactly what you’re feeling, or unsure about what it is that you may want or need in your life and your relationships, online therapy may be able to help. 

There can be many barriers to all types of love, whether loving yourself, loving your family, cultivating loving friendships, or developing healthy and loving relationships. Research has found that online therapy is effective in the treatment and management of various conditions and concerns, such as social anxiety, phobias, depression, and more.

Love is very personal, and it can often feel very vulnerable to discuss. A possible benefit of online therapy such as BetterHelp is that you may engage in therapy from wherever you feel most comfortable, so long as you have an internet connection. This way, you can choose a space that feels safe and comfortable for you to dive into your thoughts on love with a trained professional.

Takeaway

When considering the role of love in your life or what you might be looking for in a relationship, it may be useful to consider the various types of love that can exist. If you would like additional support as you navigate various relationships—whether with yourself, your family, your friends, your partner, or anyone else you love—you may find that online therapy can help.

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