When we think of love, it’s common to think of the images of dating and romance we see in entertainment. We imagine finding a soul mate, the perfect person to spend your life with. But the truth is, many romantic relationships fail because we place too much pressure on one person to satisfy all our needs in life. In order to have healthy romantic relationships, it’s essential to think about and celebrate all the different kinds of love in your life.
Love can take so many different forms. Although many people have created words and definitions for love, it’s not something that can be easily pinned down or categorized. Saying “I love you” can mean different things for different people. Although we only use one word for “love” in English, it can be helpful to think about the different types of love and how they influence our lives.
One Person Can’t Do Everything
Many of us dream of finding our soul mate, or “the one.” We think that if we can just find the right partner, it will solve many of our problems and make us whole. But that’s a lot of pressure to put on one person. Even if you find a fantastic partner, they may not always be emotionally available when you want them to be or share all of your interests.
You can actually help your romantic relationships by diversifying the kinds of love in your life. This will allow you to truly appreciate your relationship with your romantic partner while not expecting them to be the primary or only source of love in your life. It can also be helpful if something goes wrong in a relationship to know that there isn’t just one way to experience love in life.
Different Kinds of Love
The ancient Greeks famously had seven words for love. Although these aren’t the only possible types of love, imagining multiple categories can help us understand the different kinds of love we feel in our lives.
This is what we most commonly think of as love. Romantic love can be mysterious, bringing up unexpected thoughts and feelings. It can also change significantly over time, with terms like a crush, the honeymoon phase, and long-term relationships describing different types of romantic love.
For most people, romantic love goes along with physical acts of love. However, this is not the case for all people. Some people may feel romantic attraction without sexual attraction or vice versa. Others just understand the connection between romance and sex in different ways. It can be helpful to think about how you conceptualize these two things differently and how that can impact your relationship.
Although platonic love is often seen as being less important than romantic love, this is not always the case. For many people, friends are an integral part of their lives. Friendships can even form deeper and longer-lasting connections than many romantic relationships. Platonic love is generally defined as a type of love without a romantic element, one you feel for close friends.
Even when you’re in a fulfilling romantic relationship, it’s also important to value the platonic relationships in your life. So many people let these fall to the wayside and find themselves disappointed by their lack of meaningful friendships later on. Making intentional time and energy for your friendships can help your romantic relationship. By diversifying the sources of love in your life, you’ll ensure that you don’t rely on that one partner for everything.
The love we feel for our families is another essential type of love in our lives. Family can look different for everyone: it could be a traditional nuclear family, a large extended group, or a chosen family that forms later in life. But, no matter how your family looks, you share a special bond that is different from the bonds you share with others in your life.
The love that you feel for yourself is just as important as your love for others. It can often be difficult to love others fully if you don’t love yourself. Self-love allows you to engage with things you love, know your needs, protect your wellbeing, and communicate authentically and effectively with those around you.
Other Types of Love
There are so many types of love that it’s impossible to get through them all in one article! Think about other things you love—it could be a job, a place, a community, or an interest you have. These are all valid and essential types of love that can help strengthen your mental health and your relationships—with yourself, with friends and family, and with that special someone.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.