The logic of love

The universal tie that keeps us together.

Love / nounan intense feeling of deep affection.

Love is the common thread that runs through us all. It is that wondrous and magical, yet maddening and confusing feeling that has stumped even the greatest philosophers.

When we think about love, we often think of romantic and platonic love, but there is so much more to it than what’s on the surface. Love cannot be simplified. Love cannot be pinned down or bottled up. Love is expansive, deep and infectious.

According to DePaul professor of philosophy, Khafiz Kerimov, philosophers like Plato, Empedocles and Vladimir Solovyev all pondered, studied and wrote philosophical texts that question love and its many complexities.

“In Plato’s Symposium, philosophers came together drinking wine and singing praises to love,” he said. “The thing that’s a thread that goes through their dialogue is that they all constantly have to resort to myth and fairy tales to describe what love is because it is so difficult to put into words.”

Each and every one of us have experienced love in some capacity at one point or another. But what if we could put it into words? What if we take all that we know – or think we know – about love and summarize it in a way that makes it seem a little less daunting?

According to DePaul Communication Professor Tim Cole, by understanding the different types of love, we can learn how to identify and communicate our personal needs around love and affection. Once we identify our needs, love won’t seem as complicated as it had before.

Romantic – Hot, passionate love.

This is the “intense, consuming, obsessive, delusion, euphoric” love experienced in romantic relationships, said Cole. Romantic love tends to fade after about 3-4 years. This is a normal and natural occurrence in love that partners do not need to fear. It does not mean that there is something wrong in the relationship or that things need to be broken off. In order to breathe life back into our relationships, it’s important to plan different activities that are exciting and adventurous in order to spark those passionate feelings back into the relationship.

Companionship – Warm, durable, stable love.

Companionship love, according to Cole, lasts a lifetime. This is the kind of love that is grounded and rooted in the idea of being together forever on the basis of a strong, developed relationship.

Compassionate – Concern for another person.

Compassionate love is the desire and wanting to take care of the person you love. It is a nurturing love that involves tending to someone’s needs as well as having and expressing feelings of compassion for them.

Love 2.0 – Positivity Resonance

Love 2.0 is Barbara Fredrickson’s concept that people share a moment among strangers, friends or someone you know well. That moment is a face to face sharing of mutual concern and positive emotions amongst one another. Cole explained that it produces a host of physiological, cognitive and emotional benefits. “You get something out of connecting positively with someone in the moment and experiencing positive emotions,” Cole said, even if it’s a brief instant in time.

Caregiving – Wanting to take care of someone.

Caregiving is one of the more straightforward types of love. Its purpose is in the name. Caregiving love is the desire to take care of someone else, stemming from a genuine and affectionate place.

Sport – Love as a competition.

Some people view love as a game, sport or competition, according to Cole. They often manipulate emotionally as a way to not get close to someone. “If I’m playing with someone’s or multiple people’s emotions, no one can really get close to me,” he said.

Friendship – Solid, genuine love.

The kind of love that is one of the most common next to romance is friendship. Friendship love is solid and genuine, and it requires getting to know someone as a person first before developing love for them.

Once we have an understanding of the number of different kinds of love that exist, then we can start thinking about what our personal needs in love are. 

“Not everybody experiences [love] the same way or expresses it in the same way or is comfortable with it in the same way,” said Cole.

In order to experience and express love, it is important to communicate to your partner or those you care about how you prefer to express love, according to Cole. Some people enjoy more outwardly affectionate expressions of love than others who are not as comfortable with receiving that kind of affection.

In my research on love, I took one day to ask students around DePaul’s campus to define love and how they express it. Some students said they were too shy or embarrassed to comment, but some students were open to sharing. Senior Victoria Barreras summed up the idea of love in a way that can resonate with us all:

“Love is so many things,” she said. “Everyone has their own trauma. Everyone has their own story. But there’s a lot of different small ways to say, ‘I love you.’ It’s asking if you’re okay or if they got home alright…It’s surrounding yourself with people who support and care about you and giving that love and support back when they need it.”

Love is a complex thing. But what it really boils down to is the selfless affection we give to those we care about the most. We may never be able to identify and grasp all of the ins and outs of romance, but we can choose to accept its complexities and find comfort in the universal unknown we call love.