There is only one kind of love. Hate to break it to you. But, once the special categories, warm fuzzy feelings experienced and those pesky mystical overlays are removed, love is attraction. When we love something we will want more of it, to keep it for our selves, and to protect it. If we love ice cream, we will work for the opportunity to spend more time with it, there will be cravings and desire. If we love a fine piece of art we will take great care to preserve it, so we can continue to enjoy it long into the future.
We love other people in the same way—we are drawn to the people we love.
We perform complex rituals to make ourselves more attractive to the target of our affection and in hopes of gaining their attention, thier mutual affection, and possibly a longer commitment. It is like the pangs of hunger when this is denied. If only they could see past my shortcomings and see my heart. Of course, they never do. Had it been possible he/she would have already been digging into a conversation like a bowl of their favorite ice cream. I mean, no, that’s not to say that you couldn’t be an acquired taste, as in the asparagus and lard a la mode that just happens to be delicious. But generally if something looks disgusting most will avoid it.
We do not control what we love anymore than we do what we find revolting. Do you hate snakes? Did you choose that intense feeling of disgust and that initial recoiling reaction at the first sight of this beady eyed slithering creature? No, it’s just an instinct. A primal fear. And this reaction was probably to the advantage of many generations prior that had avoided the encounter with the deadly venom by their appropriate response to the stimulus. It is good, as in very beneficial, to be triggered by dangerous critters—having a little anxiety and fight or flight response to something that can and will kill you is a healthy response.
So, love is what triggers the feelings of love and what does this is those things we find to be delectable. Sure, we can love at different levels. We often start by loving the object of the person. Is he tall? Is she beautiful? Do they inspire our confidence, motivate us and give a reason to be a better version of ourselves? Most people, honest about it or not, start romantic pursuit by loving what is visible outwardly, on the surface, and only after that progress onwards to those things of spiritual substance. We love what gives us the most and despise what only takes from us.
We will donate our time and devote our energy—be completely okay with delayed gratification—if that final prize at the end of our commitment seems big enough.
Why does absence makes the heart grow fonder? It is because love is all about things we want to have more of and limited access to. This is why we crave sugar and salt (to our own peril) they were once hard to acquire in the quantities we needed. We don’t love oxygen until we are without it, gasping for breath, and a person who has whatever they want without any effort and sacrifice can’t truly cherish or love anything. I mean, the saying, “familiarly breeds contempt” points to the reality that availability deceases love and scarcity builds it. If you happen to be one of the last two humans on the planet there is more reason to spend time with the other one.
If people love you they want to spend more time with you. Love means willingness to sacrifice one thing for another. If someone claims to love another, yet avoids them completely or rejects a deeper relationship, then they are a liar. Sure, we might love people for their appearance, we might love them for their soul, but love is always about attraction and who we want to spend more time with. This is why I never care about the profession of love some make. I only ever care about the actuality of love. If a person loves us they will call us to make sure we made it home safe. And it is because they are attracted and want to see you again.
This is why “love your enemy” is really an oxymoron. If we truly love someone then they aren’t an enemy anymore. We can’t actually force love, it comes off as fake, all we get is that uncanny valley of niceness and people will see right through it. Having seen how vicious that the Christian ‘faithful’ can be, I would settle for loving our brothers and sisters. But I’m not sure we can, we love our own ideologies and sectarian divisions more than we do unity or seeing our own sin or faults as equal to their’s. If I could see the impossible love that bridges the divides that are within the Church, I might see loving our actual enemies as being possible.
What is more evident is that we’re in love with ourselves Opposites attract is more or less reserved for the world of sex, at least for those of urge to do what is needed to further the species, otherwise the rule is that birds of a feather flock together. And it is because we’re mostly in love with ourselves and thus love those who reflect our own base values and/or have things we see as being valuable to us. The reason why most Christian missions ultimately fail is because the people ‘evangelized’ are a mere tool to get to heaven and not truly loved.
When we love we are attracted. We want to spend time together, not as an obligation or a religious duty, but as a real impulse. The divisions of romantic versus familial, or that of crush as opposed to committed, are really not all that important. What matters is if our love is genuine or a counterfeit that we use in hope of scoring points. We can mimick loving actions, like a psychopath, but not actual love.
While there are certainly different ways to love each other, there are no different levels of love. Without exception we will always want more of what we love, more in quantity, closeness or intimacy, and less of what we do not. We’ll never say no to a visit with family, our beloved, or those things that we truly love. We have cravings and a need for the things that we love. If you don’t love someone like the food you eat, then you’re probably not really all thatloving of them. If we love someone we’ll fight for them, long to be with them and let nothing come between.