What Is Love?
Most people tend to assume that their definition of love is correct or is at least normal. Some may also accept that others will disagree with their notion of what love is as well. Social psychologist Daryl Bem has termed such unchallenged beliefs as zero-order ones, these beliefs are typically influenced by direct experiences. He points out that it is unlikely that a fish recognizes that it is wet, since it has known nothing else. If you have ever been challenged before by the fact that there are as many definitions of love as there are people, you may want to defend the idea that yours is “real love” and that others are either infatuated or they possess an immature concept of love. However, each person’s definition of love is probably as correct to him or her as yours is to you. Therefore, it is easy to see why, with such zero-order beliefs, partners with quite different styles of loving may have considerable difficulties in communicating their caring to each other.
It is also important to understand that people do not always behave in accordance with their own definition of love, even though they believe that people that are in love should behave within a specific boundary of behaviours. Just as a person may sometimes lie even though they believe firmly that people should not lie. Most people’s feelings tend to overpower their intellectual definitions of whether or not they are in love, and yet they still expect others who are in love to behave according to those intellectual definitions. Such inconsistencies are not uncommon, and most people are able to rationalize their violations of their own rules.
The following is a description of the various styles of loving as measured by this survey. You will have some “true” answers in most of the scales. Usually, two or three scales will have more “true” answers than others. If you have high percentiles in several or all scales, it does not necessarily mean you are a better lover – nor does scoring low in most of the categories mean that your love is in scarce supply. Instead, this is more likely to be a reflection of your test-taking aptitude. Some people agree with a statement if it is true only once in a while, while others may never answer “true” unless the situation always or almost always exists. The latter tends to be inclined to being analytical and cautious. Your relative lower and higher percentiles are more significant than your absolute scores.
Do not be concerned if you feel you are unable to agree 100% with a category, no one will have just “true” responses in only one column and none in the others. In other words, there are probably no “pure” types. Instead, most people define love as some kind of combination of several or all of the six definitions. There is an enormous number of possible combinations for a relationship.
The following descriptions of the various love styles are in the same order as presented on the quiz to emphasize that no one style is more important or more popular than another. Furthermore, these styles do not develop in a sequence from romantic to compassionate love, as many might believe.
- Storge: Best friends, a gradual progression into love
- Agape: Unselfish love, a care-giving love
- Mania: Possessive love, impulsive and needy
- Pragma: Logical love, a practical approach to love
- Ludus: Game playing, to be exhibited through manipulation
- Eros: Passionate love, a physically dependent love