The phenomenon of love is, without a doubt, the most studied, complex, misunderstood and multidimensional that exists. It is a phenomenon that has given birth to countless works of art: painting, sculpture, literature, poetry … But it is also a very complex thing. So much so that many times instead of talking about the concept of love itself, we talk about it kind of love different that exist.
The idea is that in our culture love does not have a complete definition, but it has many different meanings, And is a concept used in widely varying contexts and relationships. Love has nuances, and these mean that, in order to fully understand this phenomenon, it must be classified according to a series of criteria. It makes us let go of the possibility of understanding love as something unique, very well defined and easy to understand, but in return it allows us to better understand its manifestations from a practical point of view.
Love: a complex feeling
Psychological study has made constant efforts to limit the meaning and implications of the concept of love* (Why we love, who we love, how we love), although the truth is that this task has always been fraught with difficulties because there are thousands of views, opinions and ways of approaching this question. Moreover, the opinions that people have about what love is also influence how they experience it, so that a “pure” analysis cannot be done on what different types of love make up. .
Canadian psychologists Beverly Fehr and James A. Russell  they have spent many years of their lives studying the concept of love. They jointly conducted a study in 1991, where they asked a series of participants to write a list with as many different types of love as they could think of at the time. This experience created a large list of 93 different love classes.. Later, other participants were asked about the typical character of each of the love prototypes described in the list, that is, how well they thought they best represented the essence of love.
The results of this survey revealed that love considered to be the most prototypical was maternal love.. Correspondingly, the following most prototypical and well-known types of love were fatherly love, friendship, brotherly love, romantic love, and brotherly love. Other types of love, such as passionate, sexual, or platonic love, were considered less prototypical loves according to the results of the study.
Elements of love
Fehr and Russell’s research is by no means the only research that questions how we perceive different types of love. Psychologists P. Shaver and J. Schwartz  they conducted a series of studies in 1992 using a similar procedure. They carefully analyzed judgments of similarity or similarity between different words related to emotions, discover that love, affection, affection, attraction and care were a fairly uniform block. Therefore, the studies of Shaver and Schwartz concluded that our conception of love is very complex and that there is no clear line between love and similar feelings or emotions.
The most important classification and which brings together a greater number of experts on the types of love is the Sternberg’s triangular theory . This categorization is built on three dimensions or essential elements in love, which are as follows:
Passion is the state of physical and mental arousal described for centuries by writers, poets and philosophers, but also by scientists. The attraction between two bodies and the sexual desire are its basic elements. Some researchers, such as Bratslavsky and builder, They defined passionate love as a set of high intensity feelings focused on attraction to another person, Characterized by biophysiological activation and the aspiration to join it at all levels (sexual, sentimental …).
However, it should be noted that in the case where the person is desirable as a sexual partner, the passion incorporates two elements: the attraction and the sexual desire. On the other hand, there can be feelings of passion devoid of these two elements, such as passion for a child. In short, the erotic connotations of passion are not used here as if one thing leads to another and vice versa.
This constitutive element of love is expressed as a feeling of friendliness, closeness and affection for the other person, As well as the concern to increase their well-being, to provide and receive sentimental support and to communicate personal opinions and emotions, as well as to listen and care for those of the other.
If we think about it carefully, it makes a lot of sense that this is one of the fundamental ingredients of love. This emotional bond is characterized, among other things, by allowing us to create a context in which we can expose our vulnerabilities to another person, share concerns and deal with insecurities in a shared way, which can have a cost or a much greater risk. Student. if we do it in some other kind of social relationship.
Researchers have reported that this element of love encompasses a conception of mutual empathy, kind and caring attitudes towards the other person, and the ongoing communication of shared affection.
Commitment can be expressed in the short term as the explicit decision to want to share time and space, or in the long term as the commitment to nurture and nurture this love. These two elements do not always have to be given together. Commitment is one element that can manifest even if the intimacy and passion have disappeared.
Sometimes the relationship between two people can progress over time, and the passion and intimacy deteriorate. In this case, only the commitment would remain, understood as the will to continue in the relationship. In the case of cultures where marriages of convenience are arranged between two families, the component of commitment manifests itself early in the relationship, and time will tell if passion and intimacy will also emerge.
Kind of love
In Sternberg’s triangular theory, love is represented with each of these elements in its authentic form, forming the three vertices of an equilateral triangle. However, in true romantic relationships, different types of love are intertwined and combined with each other resulting in different types of love (or ways of loving). These types of love would be as follows:
1. Romantic love
It is formed from the combination of intimacy and passion. This type of love occurs when lovers have both a physical and an emotional attraction, although this feeling of connection does not come from the hand of commitment. That is, it is one of the most emotional types of love, but it is not based on a relationship dynamic that gives it stability, which makes it likely to trigger conflicting experiences. or relatively high problematic.
The recurring example of this type of love is found in many archetypes from literature, such as Romeo and Juliet, By British author William Shakespeare. The reason why it is so attractive and interesting to be artistically portrayed is its tragic nature, being very emotionally intense experiences but at the same time vulnerable to instability.
2. My love
It is based on the combination of the elements of intimacy and commitment. In this case, it is a love whose ambition is the concern for the happiness and well-being of the other. It is a set of needs such as social support, emotional support, mutual understanding and communication.
People who experience this kind of love feel intimately united and share at the same time their emotions, their knowledge or their possessions. On the other hand, it is one of the most confusing types of love, as it can be confused with other forms of emotional bonding, like pity.
3. Foolish love
It is based on the mixture of commitment and passion, Without the time necessary for the emergence of intimacy. This love guy comes out when, for example, two people get married shortly after falling in love and the intimacy component has not yet arisen. Therefore, in these cases, continues to devote a lot of effort to give the best image of yourself in the eyes of the other person, something that can keep the idealization alive.
Is there “perfect love” according to Sternberg’s theory?
This combination of intimacy, passion and commitment triggers what Sternberg defined as complete love or perfect love. According to the author, this is the kind of love that almost everyone aspires to experience. It is no exaggeration to say that perfect love is hard to find, and much more to maintain. But, after all, we don’t always look for that kind of love in every intimate relationship we have throughout life; in fact, we reserve this very particular and unique kind of love for a few relationships that meet our expectations emotionally and sexually, and we try to prioritize – **. It is these relationships that, whether they end well or not so well, leave an indelible mark in our memory **.
Each of the three axial elements of love that we have described generally has a different progression over the time of the relationship. It is well known that the privacy it grows gradually as the relationship progresses, and may increase over time, but this growth is usually more abrupt in the early stages of dating.
Regarding the passionIt expresses itself very intensely at first and develops rapidly, but slowly decreases later as the relationship moves through more advanced stages in time, until it stabilizes. On the other hand, engagement increases slowly at first (even slower than intimacy), reaching a point of balance and stability just when the rewards and costs of the relationship are clearly noticeable.
Is this psychological phenomenon a product of culture?
If we are talking about types of love, we must ask ourselves whether the core of all, what we consider to be the abstract phenomenon of love, is a universal psychological phenomenon or on the contrary is a product of the cultural development that has emerged from the Classes. Of the history. In this way it seems love has a lot of culture; that is, thousands of years ago, what we mean today by “loving” hardly existed.
For example, until not so long ago, very young children were loved less than adults, and this sense of the need to care for and care for children didn’t make as much sense as it did. today; among other things, because infant mortality was very high. Likewise, the couple’s love was also not understood as a feeling that united two equal people, but had to do with the need to maintain a bond that allowed to have offspring in a stable manner.
Our brain and our love
A few weeks ago we published an interesting article on what goes on in our mind when we experience love. In addition, we also suggest a read on some curious facts that science has provided about love and falling in love, which focus on the more psychobiological component of this phenomenon. The links are as follows:
“The chemistry of love: a very powerful drug”
“Love and Falling in Love: 7 Amazing Surveys”
-  Fehr, B., Russell, J. (1991). The concept of love seen from the point of view of a prototype. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
-  Shaver, PR, Wu, S. and Schwartz, JC (1992). Intercultural similarities and differences in emotions and their representation: a prototype approach.
-  Sternberg, R. (2004). A triangular theory of love. A Reis, HT; Rusbult, CE Close relationship. New York: Psychology Press.