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The 9 Types of Romanic Love: Which Type Do You Believe In?

It sounds simple enough when you look it up in the dictionary. To love is to hold dear, or to feel a lover's passion, devotion or tenderness. Plain and simple, love is that good feeling we get when we're around someone we, well, love. Or is it?

Ideas and feelings about love differ between cultures and as time goes by.

As a culture it seems we are forever trying to pinpoint just what love is, and with little concrete success. There are as many theories about love as there are fish in the sea. According to Sigmund Freud, love first begins in childhood when we fall in love with a parent. Adult love, then, is an extension or rediscovery of this childhood form.

Freud says there are "two currents" of love, affection/tenderness and sensuality. "It is very usual for directly sexual impulsions, short-lived in themselves, to be transformed into a lasting and purely affectionate tie; and the consolidation of a passionate love marriage rests to a large extent upon this process."

Others, such as anthropologist Helen Fisher, PhD, in her book "Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love," believe that love is purely chemical. "... this fire in the mind is caused by elevated levels of either dopamine or norepinephrine or both, as well as decreased levels of serotonin," she says.

Nine Types of Romantic Love

How many types of love are there? Let us count the ways ...

In latest research on the topic, published in the British Journal of Social Psychology, researchers have defined exactly what love is, but it took them nine different definitions to do it.

That's because, according to experts from Nottingham Trent University and University College London, there are nine distinct forms of partnership love. Says co-author Dr. Simon Watts, senior lecturer in psychology:

"People down the ages have always tried to capture and pigeonhole love. The evidence suggests, however, that love is historically and culturally variable. There is no one true or definitive account of love, rather there are a limited and interconnected variety of love stories at work in any particular culture. It's okay for love to differ across relationships and to change its character with the passage of time--it's equally acceptable for us to change our views of love as we go along."

What type of love is in your life?

  1. Mutual Trust, Recognition and Support. When we think about love, this is they type that's thought about most often (yet is extremely hard to actually do). Love is a mutual effort, and both partners should work to make the other's life, and potential as a person, better.

  2. Cupid's Arrow. Love is intense passion and physical attraction that is nearly impossible to control. We lose sight of who we are and what we need.

  3. Hedonistic Love. Love is about sex and personal feelings of pleasure. No long-term commitment is involved.

  4. Love as Ultimate Connection and Profound Feeling. Love is a sublime feeling and is the ultimate way of being with another person. It is a necessity to our lives and should be sought no matter what.

  5. If you're critical of the idea that love is the type right out of a romance novel, it's "demythologized love."

  6. Demythologized Love. Being critical of the "romantic myth of love," in which unrealistic expectations abound. The actual requirements of a relationship--compromise, working to communicate, patience--are not thought about in the myth.

  7. Love as Transformative Adventure. Love can bring new opportunities and a new life direction. This can be extremely pleasurable or, at the other extreme, end up being unfulfilling.

  8. From Cupid's Arrow to Role-Bound Relationship. Love begins in extreme passion and transitions to a routine with familiar roles (husband and wife, mother and father).

  9. From Cupid's Arrow to Friendship. Love begins, once again, with passion, then transitions to a relationship based on everyday friendship. This type of love brings feelings of security, not necessarily opportunities of personal growth.

  10. Dyadic-Partnership Love. Partners merge into one functional unit in this type of love. There is a mutually supportive environment, which is placed ahead of each person's individual needs. Though difficult to achieve, with honesty, communication and respect it can be done and is highly fulfilling. The researchers say it may be the most significant way of connecting with a partner.

So what does this all really mean? Says Dr. Watts:

"At a time when about 60 percent of our marriages fail it is clear that many of our expectations of love and love relationships are not being satisfied. Our study highlights some of those expectations--such as the heavy burden of responsibility we often place on our partners to make our lives better--but it also shows that there really are 'other' ways of thinking about love and we hope that these might ultimately help to change some people's expectations in a manner that is positive for them."

Recommended Reading

The Six Different Reasons that Men and Women Cheat on Each Other

How to Make All Your Relationships Work


Health Orbit: Love Is ...

Psychological Theories of Love

The Science of Love

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