Psychology of Love

By: Priscilla Molliner

Love is a basic human emotion that many may argue science can’t fully understand. Although there is no definite answer to what love really is, there are plenty of theories on the feeling. Psychologists have developed four theories on why people fall in love. Compare the following to what you think you may know and what research actually suggests:

Like vs. Love

Psychologist Zick Rubin proposed that romantic love is made up of three elements: attachment, caring, and intimacy. Attachment is the need to receive care, approval, and physical contact with another person. Caring involves valuing the other person’s needs and happiness as much as your own while intimacy is sharing thoughts, desires and feelings with another person. This concludes that a person’s attitude has a impact on the way someone can love.

Compassionate vs. Passionate

According to psychologist Elaine Hatfield and her colleagues, there are two types of love. Compassionate love is characterized by mutual respect, attachment, affection, and trust. This type of love usually develops out of feelings of mutual understanding and shared respect for one another.

Passionate Love is characterized by intense emotions, sexual attraction, anxiety, and affection. When these intense emotions are present it gives the person fulfillment. Hatfield suggests that passionate love is temporary, usually lasting between 6 and 30 months.

Ideally, passionate love then leads to compassionate love, which is far more enduring. While most people desire relationships that are passionate, someone whose interest is to find compassionate love with the intensity of passionate love is rare.

The Color Wheel Of Love

John Lee proposed that just as there are 3 primary colors there are 3 primary styles of love that can be combined to create nine different secondary love styles.

Lee’s 6 Styles of Loving

  • Three primary styles:

1. Eros – Loving an ideal person

2. Ludos – Love as a game

3. Storge – Love as friendship

  • Three secondary styles:

1. Mania (Eros + Ludos) – Obsessive love

2. Pragma (Ludos + Storge) – Realistic and practical love

3. Agape (Eros + Storge) – Selfless love

Triangular Theory of Love

Psychologist Robert Sternberg proposed a triangular theory suggesting that there are three components of love: intimacy, passion, and commitment. Different combinations of these three components result in different types of love. For example, a combination of intimacy and commitment results in compassionate love, while a combination of passion and intimacy leads to passionate love.

According to Sternberg, relationships built on two or more elements are more enduring than those based upon a single component.

Love seems to be a complicated thing but is it complicated? Or is it that we make it complicated by over thinking and comparing what we think we may feel to what we really feel? Keep the aforementioned tips in mind this Valentine’s Day.

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