28 Febrero 2017 08:40
What is love? Well, for starters, it's one of the most-debated subjects in history. So much has been written and discussed about its complexities and vagaries, its ups and downs... the myriad dramas and joys of being in love. The phenomenon has been tackled from all angles: psychology, philosophy, even chemistry and medicine. But when it comes to pinning down a definition of love, the concept often gets away from us.
What is love? The overwhelming attraction portrayed in Hollywood movies? The feeling you get when you see that special someone? The kinship and dependency of old couples who've been together for decades? Or your parents' daily routine of argument and reconciliation?
The ancient Greeks had a pretty good stab at resolving this tricky question centuries ago. They had six words to describe different types of love. In 1973, John Alan Lee took inspiration from the Greeks' sophisticated way of looking at love and, after giving the definitions a modern twist, reintroduced them to the world in his book Colours of Love: An Exploration of the Ways of Loving.
We should warn you that not everything you're about to read is a bed of roses. Some of these forms of loving can be extremely painful. The good news? Most people aren't locked into one type of love – instead, they have aspects of each. Similarly, it's common for one type of love to evolve into another as a relationship progresses.
Here are the six most common love archetypes according to psychology. Which ones do you identify with?
Your typical romantic love. The love at first sight we've seen immortalised in thousands of books, films and adverts: the sort that knocks you off your feet and sets butterflies fluttering in your stomach.
A person who experiences love as eros often feels the need to deepen and intensify the relationship quickly, on both an emotional and physical level. They also tend to be monogamous and don't usually look beyond their chosen love interest. Eros is, in other words, what we feel when we fall quickly in love with someone and wish to be with that person only.
However, just as suddenly as eros arrives, this intoxicating love can vanish, leaving the person with a desire to find somebody new to fall in love with, starting the process all over again.
Stable and committed in their relationships, those who experience love as storge tend to value companionship, closeness and trust. Such people usually fall in love gradually, often with one of their friends. This way of loving someone usually generates strong relationships and long-term commitments.
People who experience love as ludus are here to play, and win – whatever the cost – the game of love.
These charmers feel perfectly comfortable deceiving and manipulating their partner. They show little commitment and tend to be emotionally distant. They generally lack interest in having long-term relationships and focus more than other people on the physical attributes of their partners. In other words, a real catch.
Pragmatic love, as its name indicates, is based on common sense and reason. No flights of fancy for these practical sorts. Physical attraction, passion, the joyful complicity of laughing together... none of that holds much water for them. People who experience love as pragma tend to pick a mate the way most of us would make a business decision. They use cold hard logic to figure out if a potential paramour will satisfy their needs, be they social or material. No room for error in this type of relationship. And if the chosen one happens to be rich, then that's even better!
Some people experience love as an obsession, an emotional dependency that makes them need constant reassurances from their partner. Love based on mania tends to be overwhelming, impulsive and out-of-control, and can often lead to feelings of jealousy and possessiveness.
Kind, compassionate and caring. That's how people who experience love as agape are to their partners. Love based on agape focuses on the needs of the beloved. It's a more unconditional, altruistic kind of love, and can result – especially when both partners feel love in a similar way – in very strong relationships.