Love:  Mystery and Miracle

Published On: February 20, 2023 08:00 AM NPT By: Dr Archana Pokharel

When P Neupane, a well-educated professional woman, was writhing in severe pain at Kirtipur Hospital from self-inflicted burns after a breakup with her fiancé, or when N. Chaudhary had to endure physical and emotional trauma from her husband, whom she had married with high hopes and dreams, little did they know that the very love to which they had devoted their lives would bring them to ruin. Every day, we hear stories of love full of deceit, hatred, and other negative emotions. For ages, we have heard that love is the purest and most powerful force on earth, capable of moving mountains, softening rocks, and turning deserts into gardens of flowers. So why has this sacred power been perverted in recent times, to the point where people have started to hate love?

Types of Love

According to the dictionary, love is defined as an intense feeling of deep affection, as well as an act of caring for and giving to someone else. True love is a selfless act where prioritizing someone else's best interest and well-being becomes a primary focus in our lives.

Although we commonly associate the word "love" with romantic love, this is far from the truth. According to philosophers and psychologists, romantic love is only one type of love out of eight. This particular type of love is called Eros and is a passionate type that is mainly based on physical attraction (although emotional attraction can also play a role, with varying intensity). The second type of love is called Philia, which refers to a deep friendship and a special bond between two people. The third type of love is Storge, which is family love, such as the affection between parents and children or within members of the same family.

The fourth type of love is Agape, which is defined as a love for nature, strangers, or universal love. It is an unselfish concern and compassion for the welfare of others without any expectation of personal gain. This type of love is considered very pure and divine. Examples of Agape love include selfless social workers who work for the poor, helpless, and needy, as well as saints and devotees who long for a connection with God.

Fifth type of love is known as Ludus. It is playful or uncommitted love. Focus is on momentarily fun or pleasure and involves no future commitment or responsibility. Many love stories nowadays belong to this category. If in case one of the partners in the relationship wants future commitment from others then consequences can be devastating. It is like fire, if not handled properly may burn the lives of both partners into ashes. Sixth type also known as Pragma also known as enduring / practical love is based on mutual benefits between two partners. It is mostly seen among High profile celebrities and political pairs.

The fifth type of love is known as Ludus, which is characterized by playful or uncommitted love. The focus is on momentary fun or pleasure and involves no future commitment or responsibility. Many modern love stories fall into this category. However, if one partner in the relationship wants a future commitment from the other, the consequences can be devastating. It is like fire, and if not handled properly, it may burn the lives of both partners into ashes.

The sixth type of love, also known as Pragma or enduring/practical love, is based on mutual benefits between two partners. This type of love is mostly seen among high-profile celebrities and political figures.

Philautia, also known as self-love, is an emotional appraisal of our self-worth. It is important to note that a person without self-love cannot truly and wholeheartedly love others. This type of love includes self-acceptance, self-compassion, self-respect, and self-worth. Those without Philautia often attract partners who are selfish, demeaning, and even narcissistic. Relationships later turn into abusive ones - be it physical, verbal, or emotional. This type of love has been on the rise in our society.

Another type of love, known as Obsessive Love (Manic Love), is an obsessive and jealous kind of love. It often involves feelings of codependency or the belief that another person will heal and complete you. This type of love gives rise to codependent and toxic relationships where there is an imbalance in affection, causing one person to become overly attached to the other.

Although discussed separately, it's important to note that these forms of love can also exist in various combinations, such as Eros and Pragma, Ludus and Eros, Agape and Philautia, Manic Love and Eros, etc. The complexity of love and its many forms highlight that love is not just a simple emotion, but a multifaceted aspect of our lives that can impact us in profound ways.

Theories on Love:

Triangular Theory of Love - Coined by Psychologist Robert Steinberg in 1980, this theory proposes that love has mainly three Components: Intimacy, Passion and commitment.

1.      Intimacy : This refers to closeness or connectedness

2.      Passion : Desire leading to physical attraction and relationship

3.      Commitment : Remaining with someone we love and moving toward a shared goal

 People can have different degrees of these components in various phases of their lives.

Attachment Theory of Love – This theory suggests that people have three types of attachment styles: Secure, Anxious, and Avoidant. These styles are shaped by their childhood upbringing and their relationships with their primary caregivers. Those with a secure attachment style are more likely to have long-lasting, healthy relationships. Individuals with an anxious attachment style may worry excessively about their partner not loving them or leaving them. Meanwhile, those with an avoidant attachment style may struggle to develop trust and feel uncomfortable with emotional closeness in their relationships. Understanding attachment styles can help us navigate our own relationships and better understand our partner's needs and behaviors.

Love versus Infatuation:

Infatuation is typically an intense, immediate attraction to another person, often referred to as "love at first sight." However, infatuation is not the same as true love, and many cases of infatuation may not lead to lasting love. While some infatuation can evolve into genuine love over time, it's important to take the time to get to know someone and develop a deeper emotional connection before assuming it is true love.

Love versus Liking:

According to American psychologist Zick Rubin (1970), liking refers to enjoying spending time with someone, while love is a more intense and deep-seated care for another person. While liking someone may involve enjoyment and a positive attitude towards them, love often includes a greater level of emotional attachment, selflessness, and a desire to support and care for the other person.

Compassionate versus Passionate Love:

Compassionate love has understanding, mutual respect, affection, care and trust as key components, whereas passionate love consists mainly of intense emotion with affection with less of the above key components.

In passionate love, when one’s feeling is reciprocated by the other partner, there is a feeling of elation, fulfillment and happiness. But if love is not reciprocated then it leads to despair, despondency leading to self-destructive behaviors and self-harm. So, passionate love can lead to positive or negative outcomes depending on whether or not the feelings are reciprocated and how the individuals involved handle the situation. It is possible for passionate love to evolve into a more compassionate and fulfilling form of love over time.

Role of Hormones and Neurotransmitters:

When people are in love, their brain releases various neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, which contribute to feelings of happiness, pleasure, and attachment. These changes can lead to a euphoric state and affect other physiological responses like appetite and sleep. On the other hand, stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline can also be affected during the different stages of love, such as attraction, attachment, and bonding.

Health Benefits of Love:

Various studies have shown that individuals in satisfying, long-term relationships tend to have better health outcomes than those who are single. This includes lower blood pressure, stronger immunity, and faster wound healing, among other benefits. Additionally, being in a loving relationship can lead to better stress management, reduced anxiety and depression, and increased happiness.

However, the power of love and its impact on our health is still a mystery, and much research remains to be done. To ensure that we experience the positive effects of love, we should ask ourselves a few questions. First, is our love making us happy and bringing us joy, or is it causing us to feel depressed and unhappy? Second, is our love relationship helping us to grow and evolve, or is it leading us to despair and stagnation? And finally, are we experiencing true love, or are we caught up in a false or unhealthy relationship?

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