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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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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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