When we talk about love, we link together physical attraction, emotional communication, and companionship. Meanwhile, love has many shades: dependence, merging, rationality, affection, hatred … “The ancient Greek philosophers distinguished between sensual and bodily attraction, the need for spiritual closeness, as well as passionate love (the desire for possession) and tender (the need for dedication),” says Doctor of Philosophy, sexologist Igor Kon.
Most of us experience different types of love during our lives, moreover, we can treat our partner differently even during one short romance. And what we ourselves consider love, for another person may well not be.
Psychologists and sexologists, following the ancient Greeks, distinguish three types of love: eros, storge and philia. “Relationships can start within one model, continue in another, then move on to a third,” explains the gestalt therapist Marina Chibisova. “We change and relationships often change.”
To love passionately means to discover in yourself the ability to experience emotions, the intensity of which we did not even suspect before
But what unites these different images of love? “Idealization of the other and, in a sense, devaluation of oneself,” says French psychoanalyst Didier Laureu. – Stunned by emotions, we endow our partner with virtues and virtues, which, as we often believe, we ourselves are deprived of. We can say that idealization, narcissism, dependence on the other determine the characteristics of these three types of love. “
Vivid emotions, delight and constant physical attraction to a partner, excitement from being near him, touching or any bodily contact and impatience, strong anxiety even with a short separation … “Such love arises spontaneously and does not depend on a conscious attitude towards another person,” says sexologist Igor Kon. “Psychologically, it is experienced as a state of acute emotional instability with transitions from euphoria to excruciating insecurity and jealousy.”
“It seems that the feeling has completely captured us,” continues Marina Chibisova. “Moreover, sexual relations as such may not exist, but the constant desire to be together becomes the main one and dominates over other feelings.”
In an eros relationship, the main experiences are related to what physical sensations a person experiences. To love passionately means to discover in oneself the ability to experience emotions, the intensity of which we did not even suspect before. Often just such a relationship occurs at the beginning of a meeting.
“What drives the couple to the future is primarily the desire to increase the intensity of emotions and maintain a sense of richness in life,” explains French psychologist Claude-Marc Aubry. – In a partner, we see what we lack in life – attention, support, risk, thanks to him we realize our erotic fantasies of ideal love … The duration of this passion depends on how strong our projections onto another. As a rule, this lasts from six months to two years. “
And then what? Eros relationships are usually short-lived: when the intensity of passions subsides, we catch ourselves thinking: “He has changed,” “I don’t recognize her anymore.” We finally see our partner as he is. And either we accept it and enter into a relationship of a different type, or we get disappointed and leave.
Passion for love is beneficial for everyone, but it cannot become the foundation of a real relationship. Only when partners accept each other with all the advantages and disadvantages, they realize themselves as they are (outside the couple), they take the next step – from reckless passion to constructive, peaceful love.
We understand each other, we have common interests … Thanks to intellectual and spiritual closeness, sexual relations can also arise: friendship flows into love, and the emotional excitement that is present in the storga-relationship initially complements the sexual one.
“Such love is strong with feelings, but it begins not with passionate attraction, but with the proximity of interests,” explains Marina Chibisova. “Sex drive is important, but not key.”
“It arises at the moment when we idealize the other as much as possible,” Didier Laureu clarifies, “and it is often at this moment that we feel for the first time: we are loved.” And then there is a desire to surrender to love feelings, which until now have been suppressed due to a lack of self-confidence or fear of ruining friendships.
“Such love is reliable, durable and gives confidence that the partner will always understand and support us,” says Igor Kon. “But in such a relationship, there can be monotony that can cause boredom.” Knowing each other well, partners may stop feeling curiosity, interest in each other or the need to seduce each other – emotions weaken, which can lead to the desire to seek thrills on the side …
It happens that we perceive a loved one literally as a second half: without him it is difficult for us to feel our integrity. Filia assumes that each of us is a self-sufficient person. This is love that combines desire and reason: partners know how to live together, love each other, but do not belong to each other. They feel good together, but they can exist each separately.
The basic principle of relationships that develop like a filia: “I love you, but I understand that I am not you and that you are different from me.”
“Raised on romantic models of love, some of us understand the absence of boundaries and complete merging by real relationships:“ I am you, you are me, ”says Marina Chibisova. “They are proud of such closeness:“ I don’t go anywhere without her ”,“ We only have mutual friends ”,“ My husband doesn’t let me go alone ”… Filia is built on a sense of boundaries – her own and a partner, on mutual respect and acceptance. In such a union, we do not dissolve in love, but continue to be independent individuals, and our attitude towards a partner is “I feel good with you”, not “I can’t live without you.”
The main thing in this kind of love, like filia, is respect not only for a partner, but also for oneself. In this case, we listen to our interests and desires – and this allows us to come to a deeper relationship that is comfortable for two. And although the word “respect” does not fit well with romantic ideals, it is precisely this word that is the best “insurance” for love.
- Nikolay Berdyaev “Eros and Personality” (Azbuka-Klassika, 2007).
- Erich Fromm “The Art of Love” (ABC-Classic, 2004).
- Igor Kon “Sexology” (Academy, 2004).