There are as many types of love as there are people out there to love, and you will experience a countless variety as you go through your life. There is the love you feel for your parents and siblings (unconditional love), the love you feel for your friends (platonic love), and, of course, romantic love that you’ll feel for crushes, lovers, and spouses. But even under the umbrella of “romantic love,” a variety of feelings can be experienced. Here is a look at four types of love that, if you’re very lucky, you may feel in your lifetime.
Limerence is defined as “the state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one’s feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship.” In other words: a crush! This is the type of crush you experience early on in life, where you find yourself doodling his initials plus your initials on the front of your notebook surrounded by a big, puffy heart.
Unrequited love also falls under the category of limerence, as you may feel desperately in need of reciprocation for your feelings when you are in this fragile emotional state. Unrequited love is when you fall deeply in love with someone who does not share those feelings. It can be painful, but it can also teach you the value of requited love.
Some would argue that this isn’t a type of love at all and that belongs in its own category. But capital-L Lust is so often a precursor to romantic love that it deserves to be on this list. Lusty-love is the type of romantic attraction that is so overpowering, it borders on the obsessive. Thoughts of your lover are all consuming, and you like it that way. It’s the kind of love that makes you feel like an addict, and the only thing that can satisfy you is being in your lover’s arms. It’s an intense, exciting time in a relationship, and it can often lead to something beautiful.
You have something to learn from almost everybody who walks into your life, but you often find that one of your romantic entanglements, in particular, has a lot to teach you. This type of love typically happens in your twenties, after you’ve felt the fluttering infatuation of first love. You might think that this is your true love, that you will be with this person forever – and perhaps you will. But more often than not, this is the relationship that teaches you everything you will ever need to know about who you are, what you want, and what you don’t want, in a long-term relationship.
This relationship often lasts longer than it should, ends badly, and results in your coming into your own with a fuller understanding of who you are and what is important to you. This relationship often represents your former self, and is the kind of entanglement you grow out of. Even if it doesn’t go the way you hope it will or think it should, the experience will teach you a lot.
This is the game changer, the goal of all those romantics on the hunt. This is the type of love that can last a lifetime. The wonderful thing about the Long-Lasting Love is that it often has elements of the other types of love woven into it. Lust is in there, for sure. But so is that heart-fluttering feeling of limerence. And you can be sure that you will learn a lot from your long-lasting love.
But the thing that sets this type of love apart is that you are able to grow with your partner and change with your partner. Ideally, the two of you allow each other to be the truest versions of yourselves. This requires a certain maturity because you can’t just cut and run when things get hard—and they will get hard. It also requires a mutual understanding and respect of each other.
No matter where you are in your life, you would be lucky to experience any one of these types of love because each relationship is a gift to be savored.