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How This Definition of Love was Derived

Many people have been baffled and defeated in their attempts to define love because they focus only on one type of love – often called couples love.  More accurately this is the love by one or both people that attempts to create and sustain a couple’s love relationship.  Some who study this topic have divided couple’s love into various subcategories like romantic love, passionate love and sexual love.  Still the focus is only on couple’s love.

Once in a while someone studies parent/child love but usually that doesn’t get compared to couple’s love. Some research into sibling relationships exists but most of that has ignored the subject of sibling love.  Other love relationships or ‘loves’ tend to get ignored.  Also confusing the picture it seems there exist several types of false, romantic or passionate love which commonly confounds attempts at understanding and defining love.

Many students of the subject of love have focused on divine or spiritual love but few of them study what the couples love researchers have to say.  Some others explore mother/child attachment as it is related to adult couples love relationships.  According to some commentators both of these groups have done somewhat better at understanding love than those only focusing on the couple type of passionate or romantic love.  Still others have focused on sex as love and in our opinion totally misunderstand real love itself.

There are those who think the best understanding of all types of love including couples love and spiritual love can be found in some of the writings of the Islamic Sufis, certain Hindu texts and Buddhist teachings.  Most Western world researchers into love pay little or no attention to religious sources of any kind.  Disturbing is the fact that cultural anthropologists, sociologists, social biologists, behavioral economists, behavioral neuroscientists, psychoneuroimmunologists, behavioral evolutionists, neuropsychiatrists, and psychologists of many types seldom read each other’s research even though they are all publishing articles on or related to love.

Consequently knowledge and understanding concerning love, especially different types of love, are at best a scattered, disorganized, chaotic disarray.  No wonder defining love continues to be so baffling.

Here you will find a different approach from most previous attempts to define love.  Clinical work with the love issues of thousands of individuals, couples and families motivated and supports this definition.  By a  review of characteristics of many different types of love looking for commonalities this definition evolved.  These characteristics common to many types of love stand out much more clearly than when studying couples love alone.

The 60, or so, types of differentiated love surveyed include everything from a mother’s love for a daughter, to a parishioner’s love of a cleric, and involve such diverse categories as a pet animal’s love of a human, and an ex-spouse’s love of their ex.  20 categories of ‘meta-love’ also were surveyed and include everything from altruistic love, to love of country love of a deity, love of life, love of animals, etc..

The definition used here was derived from studying the characteristics common to these many types of love. Then the definition was examined and cross-compared to each of 60 types of love which resulted in the conclusion that these types of love could be seen as adequately fitting the definition.
Excluded from this survey of ‘loves’ are those thought to represent short-term (infatuation, crushes, etc.), shallow (hero worship, lust, etc.), sick (fatal attraction syndrome, OCD attachment, etc.) deficient (dependency-based, domination-oriented, etc.) and mis-identified (Limerence, IFD syndrome, etc.) so-called love orientations.

The romantic forms of heterosexual love, homosexual love, bisexual love and transgender love were surveyed.  Due to their almost complete similarity to one another they were not treated separately.

Thus, from the study of 60 different possible types of healthy real love and factors related to it our definition emerged.

It should be noted this definition of healthy real love is a working definition.  It also can be seen as a lay psychology, broad application definition.  A definition like this is compatible with identification research rather than measurement research or manipulation research.  This definition may be regarded as a cursory or pilot effort, still it is more comprehensive and precise than most.

As always – Go and Grow in Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
If you give the topic of love reasoned thought and knowledgeable study how much do you think your life might improve?

The next installment in this series is:A Dozen Things LOVE IS and A Dozen Things LOVE IS NOT

Definition of Love Series
An Introduction: What is Love Dr. Cookerly?
The Definition of Love
A More ‘Ample’ Definition of Love
How This Definition of Love was Derived
A Dozen Things LOVE IS and A Dozen Things LOVE IS NOT
A Functional Definition Of Love
A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love
What About a Scientific Definition of Love?
7 Other Definitions of Real Love Worth Considering

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