The Different Types of Love

Love is a complex human emotion. It can vary from a simple feeling of attraction to a deep commitment that may involve mutual sacrifice or even spiritual faith. The definition of love may also differ according to the type of relationship involved, whether a romantic affair or a long-term marriage. Some researchers have argued that love is not an emotion, while others believe that it is one of the primary emotions alongside other feelings like anger or sadness.

While a simple feeling of attraction can be the foundation for many relationships, other types of love can include intimacy, affection, trust, loyalty, and respect. Love can be a powerful motivator for change, encouraging us to grow in ways that benefit both ourselves and our partner. For example, a couple in an intimate relationship might decide to seek treatment for mental health symptoms that they are struggling with out of love and commitment.

When we are in love, our brains experience different neurobiological states. Lust, ruled by the hormones estrogen and testosterone, is driven by sexual desire, while attraction is triggered by the reward centers of the brain. Then comes attachment, based on the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin, which foster emotional bonding in long-term relationships.

There are also several tertiary loves, such as compassion and fatuous love, which are characterized by a combination of passion, intimacy, and commitment. The latter is a loving emotion that requires us to lay down our lives for someone, such as when we champion a cause or care for a family member.