What is Love?

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15 min read

“First best is falling in love. Second best is being in love. Least best is falling out of love. But any of it is better than never having been in love.”

Maya Angelou

Are you feeling alone and wondering where your better half is? Where is your share of happiness? Where is your better half? This article is for you. This so-called feeling that we search in someone else, in fact, is within us. If we fail to love and be happy by ourselves, no one in this universe can make us feel loved.

Love is a cocktail of feelings that one experiences when they possess great affection, attraction and a sense of belonging to someone. It can bind you to another human being in a way that no other emotion or feeling can. People often relate this feeling to a couple or a relationship but there are different types that manifest within us and around us. In fact, we have misunderstood it to a greater extent where we hold another person responsible for our happiness. Let’s ponder upon the different types that exist.

Types of Love

Despite what popular culture portrays, romantic love is not the only one that exists, although it is definitely one that’s spoken about the most.

As relationships evolve, different types of love may be present at different stages. Many of the types tend to overlap, with some couples having companionship and lust, but not all of the time.

We’ve categorized it into seven broad types:

Self

Self-love is a form of affection when one feels for themselves when they genuinely like who they are. As cryptic as that sounds, it is one of the healthiest emotions to experience, which in turn gives rise to other positive emotions. Self-compassion, self-respect, and self-belief are all multi-faceted sentiments that are rooted in self-love. It is different from narcissism or a shallow superiority complex. Instead, it involves basic tenets of kindness and acceptance of ourselves as we would of those we love. It is a deep understanding of oneself, of forgiving yourself, of accepting yourself as you are. It’s about improving yourself. It’s about growing. It’s about feeling scared but also having the courage to face the fears. It’s about having confidence. It’s about trusting yourself. It’s everything you need to be happy in your life. Learn to be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion with Wysa.

Platonic

Platonic or affectionate love is what you feel for friends and next of kin. Some people may genuinely feel this way for a close group of people, while others develop many close friendships. It matures with time and means different things to different people. It’s what you share in your friend circle, the people you trust, the people you are comfortable with, the people who add to your happiness, the people who are there for you in time of the need. Apart from our families, the friends we keep, exercise the largest influence on us and shape who we become, making this form of affection a pretty strong form of support and inspiration in life. 

Familial

As the name suggests, this is the type of love that we feel for our family, ie, our parents, siblings and close relatives. The bonds we share at home represent some of the strongest relationships we share as human beings. We share our greatest joys, confide our deepest fears and live out the better part of lives with family, thereby forging a form of familiarity that may not be on display for others. Family love includes a range of emotions such as devotion, duty and a natural sense of responsibility which is unique from all other types of love. Blood is and always will be, thicker than water.

Romantic

Hands down, this is the most popular and widely discussed form of love in our society. Understandably so, it is the most misunderstood as well. People give away so much of themselves in the pursuit of romantic love. And thanks to poets, media, and marketing agencies, it has been hyped to such an extent that it can lead to disillusionment and disappointment. The psychology of this type includes shades of physical attraction, passionate and sexual appeal complemented with a shared sense of emotional intimacy.  Romance bonds two people together, first in the intimacy of a close relationship, which can culminate into a family structure in the future. 

Unconditional

Unconditional love is akin to spirituality. It is selfless and does not demand anything in return. A parent-child relationship is an act of unconditional love, since the parent selflessly cares for, protects and nourishes their off-spring for no apparent benefit to himself/herself. The same emotion is also prevalent between pets and their owners.

Playful

Playful love is an early blossoming of a relationship that most people fondly refer to as the act of ‘falling in love’. Most people argue whether it can be considered true love or not since it includes many elements of physical attraction that eventually fade. In the modern-day and age, this manifests between people who are casually dating or are friends with benefits.

Enduring

As the name suggests, enduring love lasts a lifetime. This is a mature form of love that has developed over time after weathering several ups and downs. It is a facet that prevails in long-term relationships, marriages, and even friendships. It is the fruit of a long-term shared effort between two people who have taken the time and care to nourish their relationship.

You also need to understand how you, as well as others, feel loved. And hence, understanding the language is extremely important.

Understanding the language of love

Although it cannot be broken down and put into boxes, understanding the love we share for one another can help us cherish it more. Expression of love in a healthy manner is the key to leading a happy life. However, every one of us expresses it differently, in their own unique language. In fact, the true meaning of love in a relationship is understanding the way your partner expresses it.

Understand what makes you happy and what makes you feel loved. It might be different for different types of love. For example, you might have a different expectation from your parents and something else from your friends, and something else from your romantic partner

Similarly, other people also have different expectations. It’s important to understand how others feel loved. For example, for you, a gift might be an expression of love but others may comprehend it differently, and probably they value time over gifts. Understand what makes others happy.

Expression of Love

Loving someone is a beautiful thing. It’s what makes us human. If we’re lucky, we’ll get the opportunity to experience all these different kinds of love in our life. However, true love is devoid of expectation. It means putting their needs ahead of your own, looking out for what brings them happiness even if it’s not what you’d like the most.

  1. People express their love in the form of subtle but genuine compliments. Examples: ‘You look great in that outfit’ or ‘your smile can light up an entire room’.
  2. If your partner is going out of their way to do something for you, they are expressing their love through actions. Examples: Your spouse may cook you a meal or clean up the home after a hard day’s work just to make you happy.
  3. People often shower their affections in the form of gifts. This act shows that they are constantly thinking about those they love even when they are not around.
  4. Time is a limited resource. Someone you’re close to will make time for you to express their love and devotion towards you.

Acceptance of others’ love

As human beings, we must understand and respect others’ love and expression of love independent of our manner of expressing the same. This is a very important aspect of living fulfilling lives. In a lot of instances, we may find ourselves at the receiving end of unrequited love, where the other person may not reciprocate our affection and advances. It’s very important in such cases to respect the other person’s feelings and not burden them with the weight of our expectations. On the other hand, if you find that someone has feelings for you, treat them with respect and be careful not to belittle their sentiments. You have to walk a fine line between leading them on and being a good human being to them. Dignity and respect are the foundation of love. Work on your emotional well-being with self-help tools provided by Wysa!

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