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What is love?


Love creates happiness but it can also break our hearts and make us miserable. What exactly is love and how can we survive it?

Most people long for love and think they recognise the symptoms, such as a fluttering heart, flipping of the stomach and spontaneous smiling, to name a few, but it can be different for each individual.

The Oxford Dictionary describes love as ’an intensive feeling of fondness or attraction’, whereas cynical Don Draper in Mad Men says ‘the thing you women call love is something us ad men made up to sell stockings.’

There can be different types rather than one universal experience of love.

Six types of love

Love can be categorised into six different types - can you spot your type?

1. Passionate love
The Holy Grail of the world of love, passionate love is all-consuming. You’ll lose sleep, your work will suffer and you’ll find it hard to utter a sentence without including his/her name.

It often follows the kind of ‘love at first sight’ meeting and is deeply physical as well as emotional.

2. Companionate love
This type of love is more about friendship, but passionate relationships can settle into companionate love over time.

You may feel that he/she is more like a brother or sister to you but you know a split would be unthinkable as you need them in your life.

3. Playful love
Playful love is more about the winning than the having.

You flirt, you have fun and you enjoy the chase but, once the object of your desire has returned the passions, you get bored or panicky and bolt.

4. Logical love
Logical love is a practical, rather than thrilling, type of love with no risk of opposites attracting.

When you tick all those boxes about lifestyle and interests on a dating website, you’re entering the realms of logical love, by limiting your options to create a match that looks good on paper.

5. Possessive love
Possessive love is where love takes the form of ownership. You find yourself ringing and texting to see where they are at every spare moment and suffer intense feelings of jealousy.

6. Altruistic love
Altruistic love is a type of unrequited love. You love from afar, often giving the person time and space because their happiness is more important than your own.

Your love type

Even if you’ve managed to identify your current love type, there’s probably not such a thing as one love type per person.

You might be able to pick out patterns or styles in your current or previous relationships but these patterns can change depending on the person you’re dating. So it could be possible for you to experience all six types of love throughout your lifetime, or even during the lifespan of one relationship.

Other relationships in your life, such as with family, friends or even work colleagues, may encompass other love aspects, such as companionate or altruistic love.

Issues with your love type

By their very nature, each love type has its pros and cons. To minimise the risk of some love types becoming self-destructive and to help you cope if things don’t work out, it’s beneficial to rein in your love type behaviour where you can.

• Passionate lovers maintain logic amongst the craziness. Focus on work and don’t bore friends or colleagues with tales of your love.

• Companionate lovers enjoy the comfort your love brings. Don’t waste time envying other people’s relationships. Avoid over-dependence. 

• Playful lovers remember that a suitable lover can still be playful.

• Logical lovers should be aware that sometimes logical love can be a way of avoiding getting hurt. 

• Possessive lovers keep in mind that possessiveness can become tiresome. Some possessive relationships are fuelled by low self-esteem so, if need be, work on building self-esteem and inner confidence.

• Altruistic lovers should be aware that unconditional love can sometimes be a way of avoiding a real relationship.

When things go wrong

Sadly, the path of true love isn’t always smooth and, for some, those giddy romance-filled days come crashing to an end. It’s never easy to deal with and can feel devastating.

Many people find it somewhat easier to cope if they know why they’re splitting up, as understanding what’s wrong can help you deal with it better. Sometimes there might even be the chance to use this knowledge to resolve difficulties.

In other cases, you’ll need to learn to accept it’s over. It’s hard but, the sooner you do so, the sooner you can begin to get over it and fill the gap in your life.

Losing a loved one can cause loneliness but, rather than slinking off on your own, the charity ‘Mind’ suggests finding activities or groups to get involved with and, above all, looking after yourself.
If you want to share your thoughts or experiences below, pelase do.

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