What is Love – Analysis of Meaning, Types and Signs

The word Love is probably one of the most popular, ambiguous and misconstrued words in the world and if we dare say, especially in Nigeria. Although it is very much recognised by psychologists, philosophers, psychotherapists and even religious sects, the term has been a quite difficult one to understand and explain. There are different definitions of love and different kinds of love.

So the question abounds ” What exactly is love ?” Is it the complex phenomenon still being examined by philosophers or the release of chemicals by the brain as described by the physicists? Is God love as described in some holy books or is it just the hot intense passion experienced between two people in the dead of the night in the middle of a hot romance? Oh, and lets not forget the motherly love too, the one which has inspired many Nigerian songs. You would agree with me love is quite a complex one to tackle. But here, we will try and examine love and the different types of love that exists.

What is Love?

Love is more than just a feeling. It is a totally complex yet simple collection of several emotions. Love is a state of mind, a virtue, an embodiment of several actions. It includes feelings and actions as care, compassion, kindness, affection, respect and trust.
Love is also diverse in its meanings and expressions.

The love of a mother to a child is essentially expressed in a different way to that between lovers. So also the way a child will express love to another child is different from the way a person will express love to an inanimate object for instance, the love of money. There is also self love, the love and acceptance of oneself, thoughts, experiences and life.

There is also the very popular form of love in terms of the intense feeling of attraction, the strong emotional connection a man feels towards a woman, the relationship kind of love.
In whichever kind of form it comes, love has been described as the greatest emotion of all and this is not an exaggeration.

Theories of love

LoveBecause love is a quite complicated emotion, there has been so many theories developed to explain it. And in a bid to answer the question ” what is love”. We have several theories from philosophers, psychologists, psychotherapists, religious books and so on. Of course there is also scientific theories to define love especially ones that explain that loves is a result of a neurological process where certain chemicals are released from the brain and not just some emotion from the heart as popularly believed.

The psychotherapist theory of love described it as a bag of emotions which is expressed in different forms. It is under this theory that we have the classifications of love as philia, Eros, pragma, agape and so on.
The philosophers also try to explain love. They are not exactly conclusive on the explanation of what love is. For them, it is not completely describable. Especially since it occurs very differently based on different kinds of relationships.

Religious Theories of Love

Finally, there is the theory of love as described by different religions. According to the Christian faith, love is seen as a virtue, spiritual and originating from God. For instance, the bible says “God is love ” and He is the very embodiment of the emotion. Christianity encourages Christians to love their neighbours as themselves. Biblical classifications of love are similar to Greek classification but not as diverse.

The Buddhists believe there are different kinds of love; the Kama which is sensuous and may be the misleading, distracting believers from being enlightened. Then there is the benevolent love called Advesa and Metta, these are unconditional and devoid of sexual desire. There is also the compassionate love ‘Karuna’.

As for the Muslims, Love is a very essential virtue that a person must have to attain paradise. According to the Prophet Muhammad, a Muslim will not enter paradise if he doesn’t love others. He said ” you will not enter paradise until you believe and you will not believe until you love one another ” – Sahih Muslim
There are also various other religious explanations of love according to Judaism, Sikhism, the Latter day saints and so on.

Types of Lovesiblings

We already know there are different kinds of love. Self love, motherly love etc These are layman classifications of love. There are sophisticated classifications like the biblical love classification, the ones derived from ancient Greek philosophy and so on . However, lets take a closer look at all the different kinds of love that exists;

1. Agape Love

Agape love is a quite interesting and accommodating kind of love. It reaches beyond the outward appearance or physical beauty or characteristics. Agape love transcends far beyond the outer surface, it goes deep down into the soul allowing a person to love the object alongside their downsides and outright ‘bullshit’. It is untrue that agape love sees no fault, the major thing is that agape love recognises the persons fault but loves the regardless. It accepts people as they are. Agape love is a selfless kind of love that gives and is kind without expecting a reward. A person may have agape love towards even his or her enemy. Agape love is recommended between humans. That type that makes the world go round.

2. Philia

Also called affectionate love. the philia kind of love can simply be described as friendship. The love found between friends who do not see each other as superior or inferior but as equals. The philia is devoid of any intense physical attraction or sexual feelings. It is the kind of love that breeds likeness, loyalty and team spirit. The all for one, one for all kind of love that breeds companionship, comradeship, trust and dependability. It is the “I got your back” kind of love.

3. Storge

Is a more similar kind of love to philia. It is devoid of physical attraction as well. However, storge has to do with family usually. It exists between kinsmen and blood relations for example the love between parents and children, siblings etc.

4. Eros

Also called the erotic love. It is a more intense kind of love that Philia and Storge. It is named after a certain Greek god-the god of fertility. The erotic love is a sexual love. An embodiment of passion and intense desire. Erotic love is associated with a dangerous consequence of losing control. It is dangerous as it involves an intense desire to procreate -an impulsive natural feeling. Eros is a primitive kind of love. The hot sexual intense naked kind of love. Eros can also be likened to the popular romantic love which if not well tamed could become dangerous or obsessive.

Other types of love include:

5. Obsessive love or Mania

This is a sort of abnormal kind of love though. It is more often associated with a low self esteem and a need to consistently reinforce a feeling of self importance. A person who has an obsessive love to another is usually over reactive, jealous and extreme in expressing their feelings.

6. Self Love

This is probably the most important kind of love. It is also referred to as Philautia. It was recognised amongst the Greeks as a perquisite to loving others. Since you cannot give what you do not have, then you will not be able to love others as you should if you do not love yourself first. self love is about accepting oneself , thoughts, beliefs and experience. with this, you are able to accept and love others to.

7. Ludus

Also called playful love exists between two people who are not ready to commit to one another. It is a sort of fun filled love with emphasis on having fun and enjoying the moment. Ludus is devoid of commitment, it is casual, undemanding and simple. Ludus can results to problems when one of the persons involve start to graduate into Eros or Mania.

Other forms of love include Pragma, Selfish love, Lust, Same sex love, Crush, Unconditional love and so on.

Signs of True Love

Now talking about the popular kind of love we are all used to hearing and taking about. The one between lovers, in relationships etc. How exactly can one tell that true love really exists in a relationship. What are the signs of true love? how do you know if your partner really loves you or is just faking it ?

Here are a few tips to guide you into finding out the signs of true love. But before I go on, I have to point out. A lot of emotional and relationship experts have mentioned that trues love is not really about words but deeds. So to find out about true love, you may need more evidence about what your partner does rather than what they say. These signs will help you learn:

How to Know if a Girl Loves You

How to Know if a Guy Loves Youcouple

1. Time

Does he or she like to spend time with you? Now this is definitely an action. Someone who always wants to spend time with you most likely truly loves you. I mean a man or woman who always gives excuses for not being around or meeting up for a date and so on says a lot. It could be hard though to accept especially if you are in love with such person, you will most probably try to reason with your partner or even make excuses for them. But you have to be realistic. If they really love you, they will find time to be with you

2. Trust

Does your lover trusts you? Can he or she defend you in your absence. Is he or she always doubting your words? This really is one of the signs of true love. You must have heard that Love is trust. To love someone is to trust them. According to some relationship experts, a major ingredient found in long lasting relationship is trust. Partners tend to know what the other person can do, where they are and what they are doing at any particular point in time. So you may want to check if your partner really loves you by checking trust.

3. Respect

This is another very important sign of true love. If your partner truly loves you, he or she will respect you both in the presence of others, when you are alone. and even in your absence. Respect is not about having the same opinions or agreeing on basic issues every time. Two people in love may have extremely opposite views on life matter and still be absolutely in love. Its all about respecting each other views and opinions.
Also respect also comes in making decisions. If your partner involves you in their decision making or notifies you before making decision, then its a good sign of true love.

4. Un-Judgemental

Finally true love is not judgemental. This does not mean that your lover will lead you on and forget about helping you to improve on your weaknesses. No. True love will definitely call you out on your bullshit. It will notify you of your weaknesses and find a way to help you grow and turn them into strengths, All the while without judging you or making you feel bad about yourself.

5. Sacrifice

This doesn’t need a lot of words. If you love someone, you’d be willing to sacrifice for them. A sacrifice can be as little as following them to a party you really don’ want to go to or as huge as giving a kidney.

Famous love quotes

Well having examined a lot about love, it will not be out of place to indulge ourselves in a number of love quotes. To summarize, here are some famous love quotes for your relish.

“At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet”
– Plato

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails
– 1 Corinthians 13:4

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”
– Aristotle

“Love is a promise; love is a souvenir, once given never forgotten, never let it disappear.”
– John Lennon

“Love is something sent from Heaven to worry the Hell out of you.”
– Dolly Parton

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
-Mother Teresa

“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.”
– Judy Garland

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