You may love your spouse, love your job, or love your car. Even though we use the same word to express these feelings, they're clearly not the same type of love. The ancient Greeks identified six types of love, and thousands of years later, these categorizations are still relevant. Learning the different kinds of love can help you improve your relationships.
Altruistic Love (Agape)
When you give to others, you are displaying selfless or altruistic love, called "agape" by the ancient Greeks. It can be shown in multiple types of relationships, but it is most common between parents and children. Many parents must take on a patient and giving role, making sacrifices in order to put their children first. However, you can also show this type of love to a friend or romantic partner. Some people have a tendency to love through patience and giving; these people typically enjoy giving 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 requires no commitment between partners, but the individuals involved have passion and desire for each other. They enjoy activities together but are not in for a long-term relationship. Of course, it is possible for playful love to evolve into another form of love, even without sacrificing the passion.
Companion Love (Storge)
Many close friendships display this kind of love. It involves a close connection in which two people care about each other, feel connected and understood, and offer emotional support. Friends who have a commitment to one another but no romantic passion typically fall under this category of love. Sometimes romantic partners experience this type of love, which involves caring and commitment but lacks passion. This type, and all other types, of love can also be experienced in tandem with the others.
Romantic Love (Eros)
If you have fallen in love, then you have experienced romantic love. This is characterized by both intimacy (being emotionally close to each other) and attraction (whether physical, mental, or both). It is the type of love that many people seem to seek out the most. Successful romantic relationships depend on both partners feeling romantic love for each other. This type of love can also combine with commitment to create a stable, long-term relationship.
Obsessive Love (Mania)
Obsessive love is not healthy and often involves jealousy and controlling behavior. The person experiencing this may feel that they truly love the other person, but the object of their love often begins to see the unhealthy nature of this affection and rejects them. It is difficult to maintain stable and happy relationships with obsessive love.
Practical Love (Pragma)
Two people can make a commitment to one another without necessarily having intimacy or passion. In fact, many alternative marriage arrangements involve this kind of family commitment between friends or partners who do not feel romantic toward one another. Additionally, sometimes romantic relationships over time evolve into this type of more basic commitment.
The Keys To Improving All Relationships
While learning about and understanding the six types of love detailed above can certainly give you more insight into love, they cannot, on their own, help you cultivate better relationships. You need to first understand the relationship dynamic that you have with another individual, and then do further research and implement those tips to take action and create the change you want. No matter what, being open and communicative with yourself and the other individual in the relationship is paramount. Here are three key things you will need to focus on in your relationships as you move forward.
Know (And Care For) Thyself
Our relationships are ultimately an extension of ourselves. Our personalities and our actions have a direct influence on the course of relationships with others. Without a true knowledge of yourself, you will never be able to understand why your relationships function the way they do, and you will not be able to make the changes needed to fix issues that will, inevitably, arise. Along with cultivating self-awareness, you should also make sure to nurture your internal relationship and take care of yourself. You can't love another person properly if you don't love yourself!
Know (And Care For) Your Partner
When you enter a relationship, your priorities begin to shift and you will start to pay more attention to your partner. Despite what popular young children's books and romantic movies may have told you, simply entering into a relationship doesn’t result in living happily ever after. For that matter, neither does falling in love! Relationships, whether romantic or otherwise, take work and a conscious decision to do that work. You must maintain your relationship as you grow with that person and learn more about who they are. Make sure that you take the time to discover them, treasure them, and communicate with them. When you treat your partner with attention and care, you get more out of your relationship.
Know (And Care For) Your Relationship
Almost like you and your partner, your relationship is a metaphorical living, breathing entity that binds you two together, constantly growing, changing, and evolving as time goes on and life changes. In order to keep this being alive, you have to make sure to care for it. You can do this by making sure to schedule important date nights and outings, set aside time to talk about issues that may have come up throughout the week, sit down and listen to your partner, make sure they are heard and validated, and schedule individual time as well. Pay attention to your relationship and it will thrive.
Note that more than one of the six types of love can exist in one relationship, and the same relationship can fluctuate between these types of love over time. By recognizing the different flavors of love, you can fill your life with multiple fulfilling relationships, even if you aren't currently in a romantic partnership. If you're having serious trouble with relationships in your life, try speaking with a professional therapist such as those found at BetterHelp.
Online therapy is just as effective as face-to-face therapy in treating conditions like anxiety, depression, substance abuse and addiction, phobias, PTSD, and a range of others – all things that can, and inevitably do, 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. It also found that online therapy removes many of these barriers!
With BetterHelp, you don't have to search far and wide for a counselor and squeeze in sessions or wait forever for an open slot. BetterHelp gives you the option to speak with certified therapists without ever having to leave the house or neglect other responsibilities. Many of our therapists don’t work traditional hours since they’re not limited to an office setting, and sessions can be conducted via video chat, phone call, texting/instant messaging, live voice recording, or any combination thereof. On BetterHelp, you can rest assured that counselors will be able to provide you with the help you need. Consider the following reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing different issues relating to relationships and love.
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"I really enjoyed my sessions with Dr. Anstadt. He helped me see how one issue was affecting multiple aspects of my life. He has greatly improve my relationships with the people I'm closest to and even the way I approach work. I have seen a huge difference in my relationships already, and I have several tools to help me manage the issues I started seeking therapy for. I cannot express how thankful I am to Dr. I Anstadt!"
Cultivating healthy and happy relationships begins with becoming more knowledgeable about all aspects of the relationship and taking the time to make sure you apply that knowledge correctly. With the right tools and an open mind, you can enjoy lasting, fulfilling love. Take the first step.