You might assume that if you fall in love, it’s with “The One”.
But by this point in your life, you’ve probably loved a few men…and none of them has worked out. You remember feeling like you loved them…were you wrong? Not at all. There are actually different types of love and each is good in its own way, and you gain great experiences from each.
Why does no one tell you this?! It would be helpful to understand that not every man you fall in love with is meant to be the one you end up with.
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We need a manual on love, I think.
Why Different Types of Love are Good For You
You remember being in your teens or twenties and falling head over heels for a guy. Maybe you even dreamed of that big wedding and all those kids you’d have. Now you’re older and wiser and can’t believe you ever thought you’d end up with Davey from your typewriting class.
But that doesn’t mean you didn’t love Davey. It was genuine…for that phase of your life and who you were at the time. Both your experiences and where you are in your life can impact the types of love you have, as well as your relationship with a man.
Experiencing different types of love expands your experience and helps you understand both what you want…and what you don’t want in a lasting relationship.
Let’s dive into the seven types of love you may experience. Some of them are less healthy than others, but I firmly believe that you can learn something from every type of love and every relationship you have.
Also known as puppy love, this may feel real (and super intense), but ultimately it is fleeting. It usually happens within the first few weeks of dating someone new. You’re drunk on that feeling of infatuation. You can’t get enough of the guy…and he can’t get enough of you. You may hole up in his bed for an entire weekend and your friends think you’re dead in a ditch somewhere.
But you’re having an incredible time. You’re seeing nothing but possibilities. After all, this guy could be Mr. Right, couldn’t he? You’re already thinking about the summer getaway you’ll take…and maybe, if you’re honest, about what your wedding would be like.
And if you’re having sex, this feeling of infatuation will only be magnified. But in reality, most of that is just lust.
But then…maybe you start to notice how loud his laugh is when you’re in public. Or how it’s really not all that awesome that he has no car and you have to drive him everywhere. Some of that glitter fades and you realize you have nothing in common with this man.
The bloom is off the rose, as they say.
You quickly move from being completely gaga and unable to think of anything but this man to seeing all the reasons you’re not right for one another. And that’s a good thing because you’re realizing early on that this isn’t the guy for you.
Now, don’t get me wrong: infatuation is a healthy and necessary part of finding the perfect fit. You’re bonding to one another emotionally, physically, and biochemically. And if feels freaking fantastic, doesn’t it?
What You Learn From This Type of Love: If you’ve been through a divorce or it’s been eons since you last tumbled into love, infatuation provides a useful service: it makes you feel desired and attractive again. Your memories of your marriage might be fights and his put-downs, but here’s a guy who can gaze into your eyes and make you feel like the only woman in the room. There’s definitely value in that, even if he doesn’t end up being the one you end up with forever.
2. Friendly Love
On paper, this guy has it all. He likes the same music. He’s got a great career. He’s kind to everyone. He treats you like a queen. He’s a great guy and you want to love him…but honestly, you feel something more like brotherly love for him.
You try to force a relationship at first. After all, what’s wrong with you? Why don’t you feel passion and attraction for this amazing man?
The thing is, no matter how “perfect” for you a man seems to be, that doesn’t make him right for you romantically. There’s a lot at work when it comes to physical, emotional, and romantic attraction, and this man clearly doesn’t check all the boxes, no matter how much you want him to.
In a study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, researchers found that men and women who were friends were more likely to stay that way than become romantically involved. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
This type of love is a great base for friendship, and who couldn’t use more friends?
What You Learn From This Type of Love: It’s a fact: you can’t force romance. Sometimes being friends is what you were destined to be, and having a male friend provides so many perks. You can better understand the opposite sex, which can help you in dating and relationships. You can get his opinion on men you’re talking to, to see if they’re genuine and good potential suitors. You can learn how to be a better communicator, and you’ll always have a plus-one for events when you don’t have a date! And you never know: if you relax and be yourself around him as a friend, things might melt back into romantic love down the road.
3. Obsessive Love
This type of love might start out like infatuation, but it quickly takes a wrong turn.
You freak out when he doesn’t text you back immediately…
You wonder where he is when he’s not with you…
You get upset when he doesn’t do what you think he should.
If you admit it, you feel a bit unbalanced and unlike yourself with him. Normally you’re the one being chased in a relationship, but you are desperate to have all of his attention, and you’ll do anything to get it.
Is your attachment style anxious-preoccupied? Probably. You may spend a lot of time being anxious about this relationship. Any time he gives you attention, you feel like the sun is shining on you. When he doesn’t, you feel like things are doomed.
In an obsessive love relationship, you may have low self-esteem, jealousy, and/or a need to control, even if these aren’t your normal ways of being in a relationship. There’s just some cocktail of chemicals and emotions with this guy that’s making you completely out of whack.
Pay attention, because obsessive love can be a serious disorder that needs to be treated with medication or psychotherapy. But it doesn’t have to be to that degree for it to negatively impact your life.
What You Learn From This Type of Love: This isn’t love! Any man that you look to for your source of happiness isn’t the right one. You may need to spend some time alone so that you learn how to be happy by yourself before getting into your next relationship.
It’s also a good lesson that you can’t control anything in life.
4. Codependent Love
Here’s another type of love that isn’t necessarily good for you.
With codependent love, one or both of you have unhealthy behaviors that the other is fostering. Shawn Meghan Burn, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, defines codependent love like this:
“I prefer to think of codependent relationships as a specific type of dysfunctional helping relationship. Broadly speaking, in dysfunctional helping relationships, one person’s help supports (enables) the other’s underachievement, irresponsibility, immaturity, addiction, procrastination, or poor mental or physical health.”
You may have explosive arguments. Drug or alcohol use. Abuse. Lying. Cheating.
Despite all of this negativity, you feel like you won’t find better. That you need this person to survive. That, in some twisted way, you’re good for each other.
This isn’t love, either. It’s drama, and believe me, sexy, confident lady, you can and will find better.
What You Learn From This Type of Love: There’s a lesson in everything, isn’t there? I think the lesson in codependent love is that you need to feel needed…just not like this. Whatever the bad behavior is, it masks bigger issues in the relationship that you need to work on by yourself before moving into your next healthy relationship.
5. Unrequited Love
I think we’ve all experienced this at some point in our lives: you have feelings for someone who doesn’t return them.
You aren’t in a relationship, but might be friends. It might be the Harry to your Sally, and you’re wondering when you’ll turn into a couple just like they did in the movies (I curse rom-coms for giving women an unrealistic expectation of romance!).
He seems perfect for you…so why doesn’t he feel the same?
Realize that you may be inflating how great this guy is simply because you can’t have him. It’s the whole “grass is greener” thing. Because he isn’t interested, he’s the more appealing. Try to step back and look at him for who he is. You might realize that he’s not all that compatible with you.
You may never even tell the object of your affections that you have feelings for him, though if you do, at least you know whether he feels the same or not. Otherwise, you’ll always wonder.
What You Learn From This Type of Love: This type of love teaches you what love shouldn’t feel like: it needs to be two-sided to thrive.
6. All-You Love
Here’s another one-sided kind of love. You’re in a relationship, but you’re the one giving everything.
You sacrifice, you compromise. He takes.
You let him pick the restaurant whenever you go out because he’s pickier than you about where you eat.
Or, when he tells you he has a job offer across the country, you swallow your sadness about uprooting your life and leaving your friends and go to support him.
Your friends don’t understand why you’re with him because they don’t see him sacrificing or giving anything to you. But you’re so in love that you don’t see it.
Sadly, this relationship won’t last forever because eventually, you will run out of things to give. Just like a plant, you need things to thrive. Instead of sunlight, air, and water, you need love, affection, and selflessness. Without him giving those things, you will wither and your love will die.
What You Learn From This Type of Love: It’s beautiful to give in a relationship, but it needs to be balanced. You will realize your own self-worth and that you deserve someone who is just as eager as you are to contribute to the relationship.
7. Healthy Love
Ahh, finally! The crème de la crème of love. Healthy, true love is worth waiting for. It means you’re in a relationship where you are partners, where you equally give to one another.
There’s no jealousy. No lying. No obsession.
He never makes you feel dumb or out of your league. There’s no drama.
While infatuation probably happened on your journey to healthy love, things have settled down a bit now. While you adore spending time with your man, you also balance it with alone time and being with your friends. You’re able to be genuine with him and have opened up to him in ways you haven’t in past relationships.
All these other types of love helped you get here, but now you see what the big deal is and how it’s different from all others. It’s that moment that you think, “OH! I see what the big deal is!”
You’ve learned lessons on your journey to true love so that you know what is and isn’t acceptable in a relationship. You’ve learned a ton about who you are, and have found happiness within rather than looking for it from another person. That makes you whole and completely ready for a real relationship that is right for you.
What You Learn From This Type of Love: You may have struggled to try to be yourself with a partner in the past, which is understandable, since none of them were right for you. Now you can relax, knowing that this man truly sees you for who you are.
I don’t want you to discount any man you ever thought you loved as being irrelevant. I truly believe that every relationship we are in, every emotion we feel, is valid and useful. Sure, you might have been 15, 20, or 30 when you thought you were in love but did your age make those feelings irrelevant?
Think of it like this: right now, whatever age you are, you are the smartest you’ve been and have had more life experiences than you ever had in the past. But in 10 years, you’ll have even more and be even smarter. Does that invalidate what you feel today? Of course not.
Rather than thinking that there is one true love for you in your life, be open to the fact that you’ve probably loved many men in different ways. And those experiences led you to where you are and how you are capable of having a healthy love today.
Talk to me! Which of these types of love have you experienced? Have you found a healthy love yet? Leave a comment below.
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