I have heard people say that love is not a petty, simple feeling… rather it’s a judgment, a promise, to whomever you give it to. If it were just a feeling, then there would be no sense of promising to love each other forever, because a feeling is intermittent; it comes and goes without a specific mention of time and setting. The emotion called love is regardless of whom you are feeling for; you just want them to be happy, you love the way they are, appreciate some of their aspect(s) and spend most of your time with the individual. Now, the question that arises is, “If love is same, then why are there so many different definitions about love?”
Well, I might have a possible answer for the universal question. The distinctions in the loving experience are observed in the manner of expressing our love. The emotions remain unchanged, but how we express it and the degree to which we express the emotions is what matters. When and how we express love is a matter of preference. You might prefer to spend more time with someone who is outgoing rather than an introvert, or more serious than silly. You may be physically attracted to an older woman than a younger girl. There are an infinite number of qualities that we might prefer over others. And these preferred qualities essentially detetmine who, when, how and to what degree we express our love.
I would like to present a very interesting theory proposed by famous American psychologist Robert Sternberg called “Triangular Theory of Love”. The theory categorizes love as consisting of three different components, viz,
- INTIMACY , a feeling of closeness that occurs between two people, including disclosure of personal feelings and thoughts.
- PASSION , a drive that cultivates romance and physical attraction.
- COMMITMENT , characterized by a decision to maintain love relationship with the partner for a long time.
From these three elements of love, he derived a total of eight types of love.
1. NON LOVE – It is the absence of all three elements, viz, passion, intimacy and commitment
2. LIKING/FRIENDSHIP – It is only intimacy without passion or commitment. This type of relationship is not trivial as it seems. Intimate closeness leads to true friendships in which a person feels bonded to another person without the commitment factor.
3. ROMANTIC LOVE – It is the combination of intimacy and passion, but, it excludes the commitment factor. These kind of relationships are non-existent in the long term.
4. INFATUATION – It is a relationship of pure passion, completely excluding the intimacy and commitment. It is the foundation of romantic love. But, without, any of the other two elements, it’s a perishable relationship.
5. EMPTY LOVE – It is sheer commitment without passion and intimacy involved. Generally observed in arranged marriages, where the spouses’ relationship usually begin with empty love. Even a very strong love can detoriate to empty love.
6. COMPANIONATE LOVE – It is an intimate and a non-passionate kind of love that is stronger than friendship because it involves long term commitment. This type of love is often found in marriages, where passion takes holiday from the relationship, yet it is held strong by deep affection followed by a firm commitment. Another example of companionate love is the love between two very close friends, also known as “platonic love”.
7. FATUOUS LOVE – It’s another unique kind of love which combines the elements of passion and commitment leaving intimacy behind. It can be cited by an impulsive love affair in which a commitment is backed largely by passion, without stabilizing the influence of intimacy.
8. CONSUMMATE LOVE – It is the best and ideal r elationship which combines all the three elements. It is the complete form of love towards which everyone thrive. Spouses exhibiting consummate love are often called, “perfect couples”. According to Sternberg, these couples have great passion among themselves and cannot be happy without each other. It is harder to maintain a consummate love than by merely achieving it.
So, which kind of relationship are you having? Or, at least, making plans about it? C’mon, don’t be so shy… share share share…
I had a great deal of fun writing this article, because, it gives a new perspective of studying about love especially in an analytical way. It’s really interesting to study about love because no one has been able to define love completely, not even in a set of paragraphs. Even I can’t give you an exact meaning, and even if I asked you, you would surely give an incalculable number of ideas, which, if summed up, still can’t give the definition of “LOVE”.