Enchanted 2-1

What is love? If we were to all answer this question, we would probably each have a different response. I see love expressed, celebrated, longed for, and even viewed with disdain across the blogosphere. When we speak of love, are we speaking the same language?

Before I begin, I owe a debt of gratitude to Sienna (a former lover) for exposing me to several fascinating books that delve into the psychology, philosophy, spirituality of love. My relationship with Sienna is one I will write about in great detail and one that was incredibly special to me on many levels. Sienna’s spirituality and thoughtfulness about the nature of our relationship was one of the many traits I admired in her.

My blog is a journey for deeper understanding primarily against the backdrop of my relationships with women. I’ve come across fascinating books and articles delving into the psychology, philosophy, and spirituality of love. I’ll admit a lot of it was rather deep and almost inaccessible at times. You know what I mean…hand pressed against your forehead with fingers massaging your temple as you try to wrap your mind around what you just read.

Then, I came across the Triangle Theory of Love. The theory has three components that come together in different degrees to form seven types of love. When I saw them listed, it seemed almost intuitive. I love theoretical models and this one gave me a great framework for organizing and assimilating what I was reading and learning.  If you aren’t familiar with this construct, I’d like to share a brief overview here and will build upon it in future posts.

The Triangle of Love

Passion – Intense feelings of physical attraction, romance, and arousal (particularly sexual arousal), and sense of euphoria early in the relationship. Passion tends to develop very quickly in relationships, followed by a gradual deterioration over time.

Intimacy – Intimacy is the feeling of closeness, connectedness, trust, and friendship in the relationship.  Passion can lead to intimacy, and intimacy can also develop independently of passion.

Commitment – This includes the shared investment of time, energy, joint decisions, and experiences. It is the “history” of the relationship.

In short, passion is the sharing of emotion, intimacy is the sharing of secrets and dreams, and commitment is the sharing of life and the realization of dreams. The three components of the triangle interact in different degrees to create the seven forms of love.

Seven Forms of Love

Friendship – Intimacy Only (No Passion or Commitment). Can be summed up as having intimacy with one another, feeling close, and trusting one another.

Infatuation – Passion Only (No Intimacy or Commitment). This tends to be a superficial, intoxicating rush of euphoria that cannot sustain itself if not bolstered and fueled by the secrets and dreams of intimacy.

Empty Love – Commitment Only (No Passion or Intimacy). Think of a couple that has been together a long time. Passion’s fire has been snuffed out. The dream factory of intimacy has closed her doors. Now, only the long, strong but dying vines of commitment hold the relationship together. There are no new dreams.

Romantic Love – Intimacy and Passion (No Commitment). A “seemingly” divine but fleeting state of bliss. This is often perceived as and longed for as the ideal love but it isn’t. This will be a central topic of discussion in a separate post.

Companionate Love – Intimacy and Commitment (No Passion). While it is hard to imagine a life void of passion, it isn’t a stretch to see how this type of love (filled with intimacy and commitment) could be very satisfying for some and also long-lasting.

Fantasy Love – Passion and Commitment (No Intimacy). This is a feeling of love because the couple wants to be in love but they have no shared dreams and little in common.

Complete or Consummate Love – Passion, Intimacy, and Commitment (All Sides Present). The best of all types, the “ideal relationship,” that all couples should aspire to.

In my next post in this series, Romantic Love – Hearts on Fire, I dig deeper to explore the construct of Romantic Love and advance the argument that Romantic Love is not ideal love. Romantic Love is but a crossroad to a higher form of love–Consummate Love. How you enter into Romantic Love and your expectations determines the road you will take at this intersection. One road sets you on a course for Consummate Love while the other leads to an endless loop of despair.

I hope you will join me in this journey and share your thoughts along the way. ~ Michael

39 thoughts on “The Seven Loves – An Introduction

  1. Love is like cancer. It spreads all over your body pretty quickly!

    1. Thanks for checking this post out and taking a moment to comment. The cancer analogy is interesting…love leading to death. It is also like wine in that it can be intoxicating and can lead to a sense of being more alive than ever before. It does seem to have a dual nature.

  2. thank you for re-sharing this, a favorite for sure.

    1. Thank you 🙂 I plan to sprinkle in quite a bit from the old blog along with the new.

      1. Reader Note: The comments below this point come from when I once shared a blog with Sienna and first shared this post.

  3. I didn’t know love can be distinguished into so many forms. But then again, I’ve never really experience the so called “romantic notions of love.” I’ve always wondered what happens after romantic love fades. How relationships can be sustained. What purpose there is as you keep cycling, partner, after partner after partner.

    1. I am with you on this. I was fascinated to discover this but it made so much sense. There is this vicious cycle of disillusionment and I wondered why. I began to enter relationships already being able to predict the cycle and knowing how it would end. My understanding of this triangle of love has been a real breakthrough for me. I hope you find some truths in it that help you in your journey as we all search for the bridge from romantic love to consummate and complete love.

      1. I highly doubt I will find it with a partner due to my own current situation. But I’ve started to accept it. But yes understanding it first will be the first step. Maybe it will include understanding repetitions and patterns of the infatuation phase. I’m not sure myself as I don’t have much experience.

  4. Errant Satiety

    Great post Michael, it is easy to see why Romantic Love is often seen as the ideal love but I agree with the idea of this kind of love leading to a crossroads where the investment of commitment is either chosen or not. The beginnings of Romantic love, and Infatuation (probably Complete or Consummate love as well) contain the stuff that is longed for, sung about, written about, dreamed about… but without the longevity of commitment something would always lack and as you suggest lead to an endless loop of despair. I have been in a relationship based on Romantic love where the commitment lacked because they said ‘love is not enough’ but by withholding commitment the relationship spiraled to its death. Looking forward to the next post!

    1. Thank you for the very thoughtful comment, Errant. I appreciate your mentioning of art and how so much of it dials in on Romantic Love and Passion…this is so true! Your post a few days ago was one of several writings that inspired me to start putting my thoughts to paper. I have high hopes for a breakthrough in understanding the crossroads of Romantic Love and the emotional peril of not seeing the road clearly…taking the wrong path. These topics have been written about by much deeper and more insightful thinkers than myself, and I have much to learn from them. I have the sense that I am about to understand something that was once just an impression without form or meaning.

  5. I agree with Errant. Having known Sienna for a bit now, it does not surprise me that she is a good mentor in this area. What I wish for the two of you is the love I saw in my maternal grandparents, who loved each dearly with passion, commitment and dreams until their final days.

    1. Mr. M, thank you very much for these wishes…I really appreciate it. I have always been drawn to the stories of love from our elders and generations past but not forgotten. Enjoyed you sharing the memory of your grandparents and the special example they left for all that knew and loved them. I saw this in my grandparents as well…the tender touches and kisses…the smiles that never faded as years passed by. While our society has made progress in many areas, I suspect that what they understood is something we are losing in today’s world of hyper-connectivity, endless flashing distractions, and desire for the immediacy of gratification. I remember how comfortable they were sitting together…just holding hands, talking, and smiling.

  6. Michael, excellent article and some thought provoking observations. For us I think that openness and trust are a big plus. Also the ability to separate love and sex which is essential if you are in the Lifestyle.

    1. Thanks for comment Larry, I was hoping to get your perspective on this. I was thinking about the “lifestyle” in the context of the Love Triangle. My feeling was pretty much what you expressed. The sex is seen as outside of Love and therefore not within the triangle. It seems that the lifestyle is often enjoyed by couples that have been together over time in strong relationships…full of open and trusting communication. Do you feel like this also fuels passion for one another…after the fact?

  7. Michael — How I wish I had been armed with some of this information when BK and I debated this subject a few months back (not that he would ever admit I was right, regardless). I look forward to learning more from both of you. As I apparently have a lot of trouble choosing the right direction at the crossroads of Romantic Love. You have my complete and rapt attention (even without the captivating photos). 🙂

    1. BK! Hated to see him vanish…he was very engaging and fun! I remember the two posts where he really went to town on “Love-Lust” and sharing his thoughts around this. I recall the banter you two had as well…extensive, thoughtful, and very entertaining! If you click on his name in people you follow, the post will still show up in your reader (if you click on his page though, it is gone). I was reading through some similar topics at the time of those somewhat over-the-top if not epic posts. I’m looking forward to revisiting his Love-Lust manifesto with the lens of the Prism. Dana, I am really interested in your reaction to what I plan to post regarding Romantic Love. If nothing else, I hope you’ll at least find it thought provoking…. You aren’t alone at the Crossroads. We all stand there mesmerized before the path of divine destiny. On a lighter note, glad you noticed the photo or lack of photo, ha! 🙂

      1. I miss BK, as well. Not many of my readers make me analyze everything I write and read the way he did. You seem to have a knack for catching certain things in my writing and asking questions … but without being so damned frustrating!!! I do hope that he returns someday. But he probably knows he is in for a tongue-lashing from me! Thank you for the tip about reading his posts … I figured they were gone forever!!

        I truly am excited about the upcoming exploration into the different types of love … especially Romantic Love. And you are a smart man not to distract us with gorgeous views of Sienna or you while trying to educate us!! LOL

  8. I am very interested in reading more, Michael! Can’t wait for the next post. I am full of love and it is often confusing to me, to love in so many different ways. But reading this, I can better understand all the different levels of love and am thrilled to learn more!! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks Mel, I certainly don’t claim to be a guru, and I’m interested in learning more too. It is exciting to study this and try to share it in a way we can all appreciate and hopefully take away a pearl or two…as opposed to pearl necklace, ha! Have no idea where that came from…can’t be serious all the time, lol! 🙂

  9. Angel Morals

    What a good article especially with everything that is happening in my personal life right now. I believe everyone has their own way of expressing their love but it takes passion/intimacy to make it last. Many couples forget these two main factors. When I hear a couple say the passion/intimacy is gone because life has interfered I always ask them what are you going to do when it’s only going to be the two of you or what are you doing to keep it alive. Can you really stand to live with each other in the empy love section, I know I couldn’t, and thats before I found love. Many are afraid to be alone and rather stay in a relationship without love for the security of just having someone there. Which is one of the things I think affairs come into play but thats a different subject. However, committment is one main factor that has to be involved to be able to have the passsion/intimacy to last. You and Sienna are a good example of that and we can all see the results. I can go on but for now this is it.

    1. Thank you for the compliment about Sienna and I…appreciate and feel very humbled by this. I imagine you are right on target with your thoughts about affairs…people living in “Empty Love” and desiring intimacy and passion. Sounds like you recognized this in a previous relationship and took care of it and have helped your friends as well. Regarding intimacy and passion, as you point out, can burn out without commitment. Just thinking about this as I was preparing this has really helped me understand my feelings more clearly and is an important reminder to nurture, seek richness, and find balance in all three areas. I know you are going through a challenging time but I hope this gave you another framework to process the emotions you are feeling. It won’t make it better but perhaps understanding the feelings will help you move through this. Thanks again for reading and the thoughtful comment, personal insight, and experience you added to this topic.

  10. Michael my love, you did such an amazing job with this post and expressing such poignant thoughts and ideas. We continue to learn and grow, all the while experiencing this love of ours in a deeper and more satisfying way! I reflect often on the evolution of our talks and pondering of deep ideas and emotion together. Thank you for this, tribute in a way … to understanding and also to our journey together as we Love and Learn!
    xoxoxox
    Your Sienna

  11. All young people take note. This young couple is cogniscent of this issue, is thinking about it and exploring it proactively. What if all of us had done the same? How much better would the world be?

    1. Thank you, Mr. M…we are truly humbled by this thoughtful comment and compliment. I like your point about exploring proactively. Driving at night with the lights on doesn’t eliminate all the uncertainty and risk but it sure beats driving in the dark. 🙂

  12. Michael!!! This is great! I think as much as people might have different opinions as to what love is, there is also a lot of people that have no idea what love is. Your post leaves no question.

    I know for myself I can say that I have experienced all of these types of loves and all of them with B. Our relationship has ran the gamut over the years and although at certain times I hated the direction we were headed, looking back I have a greater appreciation for the places we’ve been and am beyond thrilled as to where we are now and the future we are making for ourselves. 🙂

    xoxo

    1. TIs, welcome back!!! 🙂 We have missed you around all the blogs spreading your happy magic sprinkles and you have left a lot here today! 🙂 Can’t wait to read them and reply!

      You know, you and B were in my thoughts as I was went through pulling this post together. You are as close to Complete Love as I can imagine. I know there are things you both are working on but you guys inspire me. You have been together for so long and stood the test of time. You have fought to keep your love alive through your open, trusting, and vulnerable communication with another in order to keep the passion and intimacy flowing through your love.

      I don’t imagine the road to Complete Love is ever covered in roses like it is in movies. There will always be moments of struggle, and it will take effort once the veil of divine illusion has been lifted from Romantic Love. Thank you for sharing your journey. I for one am watching and learning. 🙂

      1. WOW!!! Thanks Michael! I’m always a bit in awe and extremely humbled when others see B and I as an inspiration. Although I didn’t start blogging to share our journey or spill our relationship ups and downs, I’m glad that when I’ve done so people have managed to take something away from it. 🙂

        You know I read something once and I’m paraphrasing from memory; An older couple when asked how they’ve made their marriage last so long replied, “we come from a time when something is broken we fix it not replace it.”

        For some reason that has always stuck with me. It’s so simple yet profound, there is no magic fairy dust in that answer. Just sage advice. 🙂

  13. Michael, I can feel the passion that you put into this post. No one ever said that love of any kind is easy. The way that you enlightened all that read your blog on the different types of love has taught me aspects of love that I wasn’t aware of or never put much thought into it.

    I am touched that you thought of Tis and I and used us as an inspiration when writing this post. We have been through so much and it is easy to forget about love between two people who have been together for so many years. I am guilty of that. I took advantage of Tis when it came to the love she needed, I needed. We have learned so much about love in the last 6 – 7 months than I have ever before. Sharing and being open about our love has helped us get to where we are.

    Love will never be easy, it will take time, work and commitment between two people to make it last. Your post has showed me that you know what you want and you deserve all the love you can get. I am happy for you and Sienna, your love is special.

    1. Thank you, B! 🙂 You know, I have been as guilty as anyone of fixating on Romantic Love with our blog. I mean this is what people write about and make movies about. It is amazing the amount of literature (centuries old even)describing this as a dangerous unsustainable place when taken as the ultimate destination. People can’t remain in this state endlessly but everyone becomes disillusioned and gives up when Romantic Love evolves. I’m fascinated by this and excited to post more on this later. Sienna and I are in this space and talk a lot about the evolution towards a higher love while keeping passion and intimacy alive while also respecting and welcoming other forms of love. B, there aren’t a lot of couples like you and Tis and I sincerely mean this…we can all learn from you guys. You have probably been together 20+ years? Man, that is amazing and you are still exploring fantasies and keeping it hot along with the intimacy and a shared life together. It takes work and you both are workin’ it great!!! 😉

  14. Always a joy to read your perspectives. 💕💕

    1. I thought you were gone! So happy you are still around 💖💞 I am in the process of re-creating my old blog so you may see some older posts popping up like new ones. I’ve missed you and hope life is treating you well 😘

      1. I’m still here.. just been busy. I can’t wait to see the new blog! I’m so looking forward to what new adventure you will lead us through💕 I don’t mind reading the old.. Sometimes it’s as if I just read them for the first time 💋

  15. I have to admit the complexities of the heart will always keep me on my toes… once I think I have an idea of what truth it holds … I’m left surprised shaking my head. But that’s the journey of life, right ?? One of the beautiful elements that makes relationships meaningful?? To embrace the unexpected and cherish what we’ve endured or inflicted..💕

    1. This a wonderful comment, Jenn. Your interest in seeking the truth of love and the maturity to realize and not expect it to always be a fairytale shows you are well on your way in this journey 💖

  16. […] post builds on The Seven Loves: An Introduction. In that discussion, I briefly look at the Triangle of Love (passion, intimacy, and commitment) […]

  17. […] The Seven Loves: An Introduction […]

  18. […] The Seven Loves: An Introduction, I explore the interplay of passion, intimacy, and commitment in the formation of seven different […]

  19. This made so much sense. Firstly, it’s wonderfully written…you have a way with words and expressions. It’s a gift, Michael.

    You really made me think …. I think a great deal of issues I have had in life, may be due to my confusing, intermingling and not distinguishing between these forms of love.

    Can I ask how old you are, Michael? You have such a deeply connected and intuitive knowledge about you…an energy so beautiful and young, yet so enticingly experienced.

    Kissing you 💋

  20. […]  Seven Forms of Love  I explored three elements (passion, commitment, and intimacy) that intermingle to create seven […]

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