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Learn the Different Types of Love (and Better Understand Your Partner)

Learn the Different Types of Love (and Better Understand Your Partner)

Love. Ahhhhh… they say it makes the world go ‘round. But does it? Does it always make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Or does it sometimes cause us problems in our relationships?

Well, the answer is both.

We have all had our share of relationship problems – especially in romantic ones. And when people say to me, “Relationships are hard!” I always reply, “Not they’re not. They are not inherently hard. It’s the people that make them hard.

What I mean by that is that humans are inherently selfish. We all want to “win” and to get other people to understand what we want. And unfortunately, that often results in two people who just don’t understand each other. And because of that, their relationship suffers.

One key to healthy relationships is understanding the different types of love. Everyone gives and receives love differently. And in addition to that, some people are much more capable of experiencing certain types of love than others.

8 Types of Love According to the Ancient Greeks

The ancient Greeks studied love and classified them into eight different types. They studied everything from public speaking to the starts in the universe. And love is something they were also fascinated with.

So, let’s take a look at the different types of love so you can better understand your own relationships.

1. Agape — Unconditional Love

First, we have agape love. This is an altruistic, selfless, unconditional love. The Greeks thought it was quite radical, perhaps because so few people seem capable of feeling it long-term.

Some people would describe agape as a type of spiritual love. For instance, Christians believe that Jesus exhibited this kind of love for all humans. He was selfless and sacrificed Himself so that others could be rid of their sins. He suffered for the happiness of others.

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2. Eros — Romanic Love

Eros is named after the Greek god of love and fertility. Therefore, it is usually associated with romantic, passionate, and physical love. It is an expression of sexual passion and desire.

The Greeks were actually quite fearful of this love, strangely enough. They thought that because human beings have an instinctual impulse to procreate, that this love was so powerful and it would result in a loss of control.

Although the Greeks thought this kind of love was dangerous, it is still the kind of love that is associated with passionate, sexual love. Even in modern days, some people believe that this kind of love “burns hot and bright, but it burns out fast.”

3. Philia — Affectionate Love

The Greeks defined this kind of love as “affectionate love.” In other words, it is the kind of love that you feel for your friends.

Ironically, the ancient Greeks thought this kind of love was better than eros (sexual love), because it represented love between people who considered themselves equals.

While a lot of people associate the word “love” with romance, Plato always argued that physical attraction wasn’t necessary for love. Hence, why there are many different types of love. This type, in particular, is often referred to as “platonic” love – love without sexual acts.

4. Philautia — Self-love

Philautia is self-love. In our modern day society, most people associate self-love with being narcissistic, selfish, or stuck on themselves. However, this is not what the ancient Greeks meant by self-love.

Self-love is not negative or unhealthy in any way. In fact, it’s necessary to be able to give and receive love from other people. We cannot give to others what we don’t have. And if we don’t love ourselves, how can we truly love others?

Another way to look at self-love is by thinking about it as self-compassion. Just as you might show affection and love to another person, you must also show that same affection and love to yourself.

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5. Storge — Familiar Love

Storge can be defined as “familiar love.” Although that’s a strange term, let me explain what it really means.

This type of love looks and feels a lot like philia – affectionate love felt between friends. However, this love is more like a parent-child love.

Just like philia, there is not physical or sexual attraction. But there is a strong bond, kinship, and familiarity between people.

6. Pragma — Enduring Love

The ancient Greeks define pragma as “enduring love.” In other words, it’s almost the opposite of eros (sexual love). Eros tends to burn out quickly because of its passion and intensity. However, pragma is a love that has matured and developed over a long period of time.

The kind of old married couples who have been together since their teenage years and still hold hands, well, that’s a great example of pragma. Unfortunately, this kind of love is somewhat rare to find – especially in society today. These days, people seem to think the grass is always greener on the other side. And therefore, they don’t have the patience or desire to watch love grow over time.

This type of love doesn’t require a lot of effort in a relationship. Both people are good at making compromises, and each of them puts in equal efforts to make the other person happy.

7. Ludus — Playful Love

Ludus is known as the “playful love.” However, a better way to describe it is the feeling of infatuation in the early days of romance. If you’ve been in love before, you know what I’m talking about.

It’s the butterflies in your stomach, the giddiness you feel when you see your love walk through the door, and the feeling of never wanting to be without them.

Studies show that when people are experiencing this type of love, their brain is acting much like it does if it was on cocaine. In other words, your brain is lit up and active just like someone who is literally high on a drug. It makes you feel alive and excited about life.

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8. Mania — Obsessive Love

Mania is not necessarily a good type of love, because it is obsessive. It’s the type of love that can lead someone into madness, jealousy, or even anger. That is because the balance between eros (sexual) and ludus (playful) is terribly off.

Many people who experience this type of love suffer from low self-esteem. They fear losing the object of their love, and this fear compels them to say or do some “crazy” things in order to keep them.

If not kept under control, mania can be very destructive in some cases.

The 5 Love Languages

The ancient Greeks weren’t the only ones to study love. A modern relationship therapist, Dr. Gary Chapman, identified five languages of love through his work with couples over a long period of time. His book, The Five Love Languages, provides a lot more detail.

In a nutshell, Chapman argues that each of us give and receive love differently, but they all fall into five categories. And they are as follows:

1. Words of Affirmation

Some people want to hear “I love you” or other positive compliments from their partner. And if they don’t hear it, then they might feel unloved.

2. Acts of Service

Doing nice things for other people is called an “act of service.” Whether it’s changing someone’s oil, cleaning the house, or giving a back rub, doing things to help make the other person happy is what this one is about.

3. Receiving Gifts

Some people value giving and receiving gifts, and some do not. So, if you measure your partner’s love by how many gifts you are given, then your love language is “receiving gifts.”

4. Quality Time

Other people measure the quality of their love by how much time their significant other wants to spend with them. If they don’t get enough “together time,” then they might feel unloved.

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5. Physical Touch

Finally, some individuals associate love with physical touch. Anything from hand-holding to cuddling, and even sex count as “physical touch.”

Why Do Love Languages Matter?

The point of learning the love languages is to identify both the way you give and want to receive love from your partner. If you both have very different love languages, it can cause problems in your relationship.

For example, let’s say that you give love by saying “I love you” all the time, but you want to receive gifts in order to feel loved. But your partner shows his/her love with acts of service, and he/she wants to feel it with quality time. See the problem? They don’t match up.

But don’t worry. You and your partner don’t need to speak the same love language to stay together. Here’s why.

All you need to do is discuss it with your partner. Once you understand how you both want to give and receive, then it’s not so difficult.

The Takeaway

We’re all different – and that’s okay. The problems we have in relationships sometimes simply come from not understanding each other fully, especially in the area of love.

Now that you know the ancient Greek types of love, and the more modern love languages, hopefully you can take a good, hard, long look at your own relationships and make the necessary improvements.

Featured photo credit: Joanna Nix via unsplash.com

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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