Understanding Different Types Of Love And Attraction

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated May 21, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When many people think of genuine love, they might envision fairy tale romance, extravagant gestures of wonder, and elaborate tales of soulmates and marriage. But not everyone expects a romantic relationship when desiring to experience true love in their lives, and there are many other forms that this deep and meaningful 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 consult a relationship expert, explore different types of love, and recognize how you can find true love that aligns with your idea of finding happiness.

What is love?

Understanding yourself and the many forms of love is 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 it means, and it may express itself differently in various situations. 

For instance, you can feel attracted to your partner, develop a loving relationship with your children and family members, expand your friendship circle with an open mind, meet like-minded people, and embrace the best version of yourself—among other things. It 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. So if you're going to ask is teen love real? The answer is yes.

Types of affection in relationships

Love has been studied, written about, and theorized about extensively throughout history, capturing the attention of the whole world. Love is powerful; it can take many forms and shapes. 

When trying to examine the role of this feeling in your life and what matters to you, it may be helpful to recognize a few different types of love according to the ancient Greeks, as this can lead to a better understanding of how to find love that resonates with your own emotional needs.

Expanding your vocabulary regarding the experience of love and understanding different types of love can also make it easier to express how you feel to those closest to you. 


Romantic love, or eros, involves passion, eye contact, and physical attraction. This is the type of love that many people may think of when they envision finding a romantic connection between partners. Good men and good women can relate to the desire for this kind of passion and a physical connection with someone, whether it is a short-lived flame, the beginning of something that might develop into a deeper, true relationship, or a truly caring relationship that lasts the entire time. 


This is considered a "playful" form of love that might involve first step activities such as flirting, teasing, and laughing, especially in the early stages of a connection with someone. With this type, you might be smitten with someone new, get butterflies when you see them, and act on the idea that true love exists. It's essential to have faith in the process and not expect perfection, as making the same mistakes can sometimes lead to hurt in the pursuit of true lasting relationships.


This is the type of romance. 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, finding common ground, and choosing to handle all of life’s ups and downs with them. Many individuals in this realize that there relationships can blossom if they communicate honestly in the same way as each other, and always hear each other out regardless of the situation. It involves a sense of loyalty, honesty and reliability.


Philia is a close bond often found in friendships. It’s a type of platonic love that involves closeness and trust with a friend. This healthy relationship 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, or “familial love,” applies to the bond experienced between family. It may involve feelings of affection 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 it'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 is the kind of love that is felt towards oneself. Philautia involves self-love, self-respect, self-compassion, and focus on essentially being a kind friend to yourself. Caring for yourself and taking the time to keep your mental and physical health balanced can all help contribute to a happy and healthy life.


Agape love is selfless and unconditional, which may be found among the altruistic and those who aim to serve others and better any wrong in 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” may be very involved in their communities or interested in improving the environment, donating to charities, or helping others who may be in need. 


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

Finding a relationship to support your own emotional needs

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 care can be experienced simultaneously in your relationships. If you're wondering how to find true love, know that it can happen in any kind of relationship, and there’s no correct way to find it. Today online dating is another way that individuals can find like-minded people, also looking for a relationship.

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

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

Understanding yourself and the many forms of love is important

How therapy can create a healthy relationship for you

If you’re struggling with love in your life, having trouble talking about love, understanding exactly what you’re feeling, or are feeling 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 affection and caring relationships, whether with yourself, with your family, cultivating close friendships, or developing healthy 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.


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. There are so many, but don't forget to love who you love. 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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