Knowing The Six Types Of Love Can Improve Your Relationships

Updated December 23, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

There's More Than One Type Of Love

You may love your spouse, your job, or your car; even though we use the same word to express these feelings, they're different types of love and should often be approached differently according to the situation. Earning about the different kinds of love can help you increase relationship satisfaction and develop stronger connections. Here are some of the different types of love and how they play a part in your life.

The Greek Theories Of Love

The ancient Greeks identified eight kinds of love; this society developed a sophisticated vocabulary for describing the different affection, care, and attention we show each other. Over time, these have been narrowed down to six main categories.

Altruistic Love (Agape)

When you give to others without expecting anything in return, you display altruistic or selfless love, called "agape" by the ancient Greeks. It can be shown in multiple relationships between parents and children, friends, romantic partners, or even strangers. Some people tend to show this love through patience and giving; they may enjoy giving in their relationships more than receiving.

Infatuated, Playful Love (Ludus)

One could argue that infatuation isn't a form of love at all, but this is relative and up for interpretation. Infatuated love (called "puppy love") may require no commitment between partners, but the individuals involved typically have passion and desire for each other. They often enjoy activities together but may not be ready to commit to a long-term relationship. 

Of course, playful love can evolve into another form of love over time without sacrificing passion.

Companion Love (Storge)

It typically involves a close connection in which two people care about each other, feel connected and understood, and offer emotional support. Romantic partners may also experience this type of love, which involves caring and commitment but may lack passion. 

This kind of love, and all other types, can be experienced in tandem with the others. None are at the exclusion of others.

Romantic Love (Eros)

If you have fallen in love, you may have experienced romantic love. Eros is named after the Greek god of love, which is characterized by intimacy (being emotionally close to each other) and sometimes sexual passion and attraction (whether physical, mental, or both). However, it is possible and natural to experience romantic love without any sexual element.

Many people seek Eros when looking for a long-term partner. Successful romantic relationships often depend on both partners' romantic love for each other. This love style can also combine with a commitment to creating a stable, long-term relationship with a partner or partner.

Obsessive Love (Mania)

Obsessive love is not considered healthy and may involve jealousy, controlling behavior, and one-sided attraction felt only by the pursuer and only on a surface level. The person experiencing this may feel that they genuinely love the other person but may not be familiar with their personality. Instead, they may feel attracted to a mental image they have created rather than the natural person. 

It is challenging to maintain stable and happy relationships with obsessive love. Research indicates that tendencies toward obsessive love may have roots in an individual's attachment style, particularly the attachment style built with their caregivers as children.

Practical Love (Pragma)

Two people can commit to one another without necessarily having intimacy or passion. Many alternative marriage arrangements involve this kind of family commitment between friends or partners who do not feel romantic attraction toward one another. 

Additionally, some romantic relationships evolve into this kind of commitment. The pragma can grow into other forms of love, be experienced in addition to other forms of love, or exist within a relationship independently.

Using Love To Improve Relationships

While learning about and understanding the six types of love can give you more insight into love, knowledge alone cannot help you cultivate better relationships. 

It may be helpful first to understand your relationship dynamic with another individual. Then you may explore your love languages (how you feel and express love) and those of loved ones. Next, you can implement this knowledge, take action, and create the change you want. Being open and communicative with yourself and others may be one way to improve your bond.

Below are three ideas you may want to emulate in your relationships as you move forward.

Know (And Care For) Yourself

Our personalities and actions often have direct and indirect influences on our relationships with others. Understanding your personality and behavioral pattern may help you know your close relationships. Along with cultivating self-awareness, it may be beneficial to nurture your internal relationship and take care of yourself. 

Sometimes, we may spend too much energy trying to find someone else to satisfy our emotional needs when we can look within and find fulfillment there. Learning to accept and love ourselves genuinely can improve self-esteem and empathy, with studies confirming that low self-esteem and self-love can affect our relationships with others.

Additionally, taking care of yourself can help you face difficult periods with courage.

Know (And Care For) Your Partner

When you enter a relationship, your priorities may shift as you make room for another person in your life. All relationships require attention and effort to thrive; as the relationship develops, you're likely to learn more about each other. It may be helpful to take the time to discover your partner, treasure them for who they are, and communicate with them. 

Treating your partner with attention and care may increase relationship satisfaction for both of you.

Know (And Care For) Your Relationship

Relationships can grow, change, and evolve with time. Relationships may have the best chance to thrive when given consistent time and care. You can provide care to your relationship by scheduling quality time with friends, family, or a romantic partner.

You may also try setting aside time to talk about your week. Listen to your loved one, and make sure they feel heard and validated. Being mindful of your relationships can help you form a deeper bond.

Seeking Help

More than one type of love can exist in a relationship, and the same connection can fluctuate between kinds of love over time. If you want support with relationships, you may try speaking with a therapist, such as those found at BetterHelp. If you're not happy in your relationship, online therapy can also help with that.

A growing number of studies show that online therapy is just as effective as face-to-face therapy in treating concerns and conditions like relationship issues, anxiety, depression, substance use disorder, PTSD, and a range of others – all things that can impact our relationships. One study found that the primary reasons people don't seek out relationship counseling are social stigmas and stereotypes associated with couples counseling, cost, and scheduling difficulties. The study also found that online therapy removes many of these barriers, as online treatment can be utilized from home.

For example, platforms like BetterHelp offer sessions outside of traditional hours since they're not limited to an office setting. BetterHelp can match you with a licensed mental health professional you can start seeing in just a few days. You can also message your counselor anytime with questions and comments between sessions to receive in-the-moment guidance. 

Takeaway

Cultivating and nourishing healthy and happy relationships may begin with becoming more knowledgeable about all aspects of the relationship and the different forms of showing and receiving love. With the support and an open mind, you can enjoy lasting, fulfilling love in your relationships, be they platonic, romantic, or your relationship with yourself.

For additional help & support with your concerns

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get The Support You Need From One Of Our TherapistsGet Started