Love is one of the most common concepts of human experience, a theme in music, movies and books. It can be complicated, confusing and painful — but it is also beautiful, magical, powerful and fulfilling. And it isn’t just a feeling — it can be an action, a choice, and even a lifestyle that helps people find happiness.
The concept of love varies greatly, from the traditional biological model of a mammalian drive to more complex social and psychological models. But all of these theories share the same core elements, including intimacy, passion and commitment. And it isn’t just about romantic love — it can be family, friendship, work, and spiritual relationships too.
Many of us are familiar with the idea that true love is the “one” person who can complete our lives and bring us happiness. While there’s no doubt that finding someone special is a wonderful thing, it is important to remember that this is not what most of us are aiming for when we use the word love. True love is a relationship that’s strong enough to endure life’s problems, and that can only happen when you both trust each other and treat each other with respect.
This type of love is often referred to as “storge” or “pragma.” It’s focused on building a long-term bond and developing mutual respect and affection. It’s a mature form of love, and it’s characterized by open communication and honesty. People high on storge love are not easily drawn into infatuation and tend to be less likely to engage in “game-playing.”
Storge also involves putting the other person’s needs ahead of your own, and it is often defined by mutual respect and loyalty. People high on pragma love are not only comfortable with intimacy but they value it. They are not looking for the next best thing in life – they know that what they have right now is good enough.
In comparison, lust and attraction are more concerned with physical attractiveness and the rapid development of intense feelings. When people are infatuated, they’re more likely to be emotionally unstable and prone to insecurity and attachment disorders. They’re also more likely to end their relationships, and they may have difficulty committing.
Happiness is found in close relationships, a career or pastime that you enjoy, and helping others. It’s also been shown that people who are genuinely happy concentrate on what they have already and avoid worrying about the future — this is known as “hedonistic happiness.” If you want to increase your chances of finding true happiness, start with small acts of kindness. For example, you could share a recipe with a friend or give away a book that you’ve enjoyed reading. Research shows that this makes other people feel valued and cared for. This article was originally published on The Conversation AU and is reproduced here with permission from the authors.