Three Types of Love

This will be a light and quick attempt to reach a better understanding of the multiple essences that lie beneath the confusion surrounding the definition of love.


I think the dictionary definitions of love are decent. They basically say it's these different kinds of feelings of attachment. Fair enough. I'm going to try to do better based on my own observations in life. A few years ago I gave a speech on the two types of love. My thoughts on the subject are becoming more sophisticated, and hopefully more useful.

First, we have valuation. This can be of a person or a pretzel with that weird plastic-like cheese. It's a spectrum. You value some things more than others. This basic observation is important in the work ranging from the economist Ludwig von Mises to the psychologist Viktor Frankl. Value hierarchies are how we navigate life.

I used to go to this breakfast restaurant in Muskegon called Mr. B's Pancake House when I worked in the bookstore at Baker College. I loved the farmer's omelet with some special changes that I had worked on with the owner, Dave. One of the cashiers had "Love" and "Hate" tattooed across his knuckles. I asked him about it one time. He said it was just a stupid decision when he was younger. I thought that was a horrible response, but there were other people waiting so I didn't dive into it with him. But, everything every human does is based on value scales ranging from love to hate.

Second, identity fusion. It's possible for you to see yourself so closely associated with something or someone else that you don't realize you're separate. This is most common in romantic relationships, but it can be with a sports team, or anything else. There was a case of a woman that could identity fuse with anything, including walls. She was at a mental institution, but would sometimes leave and walk around the city. She could interact with anyone and no one ever gave her any trouble, even though she was a tiny woman, and sometimes she would walk up to gangsters in the middle of the night. An odd ability to fuse identities with people is one of the traits of charismatic people, but when that fusion is broken it can mentally break you. You don't realize you're separate, so it feels like you're being ripped in half and is difficult to withstand.

Third, the incorporation of the other person's value scales into your own. This seems somewhat similar to identity fusion, but is different. If you're conscious that you're providing that level of consideration then it can be a mature and stable type of love, while identity fusion is not.

If you want to make a connection with someone good advice is that you have to be interesting and interested. Both of these things have to happen for both people at the same time for them to become very close. Once consideration is provided on both sides so that the individuals are willing to somewhat adjust their value scales to incorporate the other person's, then a bond has formed.

These three ideas are my own formulations of things, and I think it's a decent way of approaching the subject. There are other ways, many other ways. I like the founder of human ethology, Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, and he dives into pair bonding quite well in a couple of books. I also like the zoologist Desmond Morris, but I'll leave their insights for them to explain.

I think it's possible that the third idea I have here, the mutual incorporation of value scales may be something like what people are talking about when they say "us" with a deeper and more significant meaning than normal. It's the co-creation of a unique entity in a specific context. This is the "us" that is talked about in the love story "The Bridges of Madison County". At least, that's my best formulation of it so far.

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