According to popular belief, people fall in love three times in their life. This obviously does not count passing crushes. If you have already experienced the 3 types of love that I’m talking about, you know it’s true.
I suppose the question to start with is “Why do you fall in love?”. There have been numerous attempts to answer this question, ranging from scientific to psychological explanations. There is no right answer. When you see how someone makes you laugh even on your worst days, or how your eyes light up when they walk into a room, you fall in love.
Some of you might ponder over how anyone can love three different people so profoundly. On the other hand, some might find it impossible to contemplate the idea of only loving three people in their lifetime. Truth be told, you’ll only figure it out once you’ve lived it.
The 3 Loves In Your Lifetime
Quite honestly, I get the dilemma. After every failed relationship, I have desperately wanted my next one to be the one. If only I had known earlier that I would be able to experience the epic-kind-of-love just three times in my entire life, I might have saved my heart some hurt.
If we look at these three types of love from a psychological perspective, it is best to focus on the study of Robert Sternberg’s triangular theory of love. The three main components that Sternberg mentions for love are lust, intimacy, and commitment.
You will see, as you read on, that each type of love will have one component overpower the other. Unless there is harmony of two components working hand-in-hand, it is difficult to have a healthy, successful relationship. Now that I’ve piqued your interest, let’s delve more into what these 3 types of love are, when they occur, and most importantly, why they occur.
Once you figure out the 3 loves of your life, you will also start to see how those 3 types of romantic relationships were different in some ways, but also very similar. Who knows, maybe after reading this, you’ll realize how far along you are on this tumultuous journey of love
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First love – the love that looks right
The feeling of love, the rush of emotions, everything seems so exciting and so possible. I’m sure you’ve figured out what I’m talking about – your high school romance, your first love. From the three types of love, the first love crosses all boundaries and barriers that you were sheltered with all your life.
With the tenderness of young age, and the impatience for new experiences, you give all of your heart to the person you believe you’re fated to spend the rest of your life with. The school romance where you steal glances in the hallway, or find a sly way of sitting next to each other, leaves a heart-print that no one can erase.
You are just starting to explore how your mind is willing to reserve so much space for someone. You know this love will always be special because it is doomed to fail, at least for most people. You might leave them behind for a thousand reasons that the universe provides you with, and still, your first love will shape how you look at relationships for a lifetime.
Have you wondered why, out of the 3 types of love, our first love ends up affecting us the most, leaving a significant impact on all of our future relationships? Multiple studies have shown that falling in love for the first time causes our brain to experience addiction. This experience is critical as it is the foundation for the next relationships as most of the time, we experience this kind of love during adolescence when our brains are still developing.
According to MIT cognitive experts, we reach peak processing and memory power around the age of 18, which is also when we have a number of firsts, including our first love. This is where Sternberg’s component lust comes to mind. It might be difficult to associate lust with the age that you experience your first love in, but it’s there.
Most people have a ‘memory bump’ between the ages of 15 and 26. This memory jog occurs at a period when we are experiencing many firsts, including our first kiss, having sex, and driving a car. This happens because hormones play a huge part in the passion you feel for your first love.
Second love – the hard love
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The second one, amongst the 3 types of love, is vastly different from the first. You’ve finally let go of the past and are attempting to put yourself out there again, to be vulnerable again. Despite the good and the bad memories of your first relationship, you convince yourself that you’re ready to love and be loved again.
This is where the second component, intimacy, of Sternberg’s theory takes place. The intimacy that will grow in your second love will be inevitable. That is due to the courage it took to love again, after you left your first love behind.
It also teaches you that heartbreak isn’t the end of the world, which adds to your maturity. In fact, you’ll suffer a lot more heartbreaks, and you’ll need to know how to heal from each one of them. No matter how hurt you’ve been in the past, it is a primal instinct for human beings to seek love.
Unknowingly or knowingly, you will desperately seek love and affection, despite your fear of intimacy, from the three types of love in your life that you eventually encounter. However, you might not always end up finding it in the best place, or the best people. This hard love often ends up teaching us things we never knew about ourselves – how do we want to be loved, what do we desire in our partner, what are our priorities.
Unfortunately, before we can be enlightened, we get hurt. You think you’re making different choices than the ones you’ve made in the past. You’re so sure that this time around you’re going to do better, but you’re really not.
Our second love can become a cycle, one that we regularly repeat because we believe the outcome will be different this time. Yet, no matter how hard we try, it always ends up being worse than before. It feels like a roller coaster that you can’t seem to get down from. It can be harmful, imbalanced, or even egotistical at times.
There could be emotional, mental, or even physical abuse or manipulation—and there will almost certainly be a lot of drama. It is precisely the drama that gets you hooked on the relationship. The lows hit so bad that you don’t quite understand why you haven’t left your partner, or why you were even with them in the first place.
But then, you experience the highs of the relationship where everything is magically and supremely romantic, all is right in the world. And you tell yourself that this time you’ve found your person. This is the kind of love that you wish was ‘right’ and ever-lasting. Your heart refuses to give up on this relationship, especially because of the amount of courage it took for you to let your guard down again.
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The third love – the love that lasts
The next and the final stop in the 3 types of love is the third one. This love creeps up on you. It comes to you in the most unexpected times for which you might not even be ready, or at least you think you aren’t.
You might think that not all of us are fortunate enough to experience this kind of love, even in a lifetime. But that’s not true, you’ve built a wall around yourself that protects you from any kind of hurt and rejection. But it also holds you back from experiences of freedom, connection, and of course, love.
Amongst the three types of love relationships, if there is one thing that you’ll see in common are your desperate attempts to shield yourself from the possibility of love in order to avoid pain, and yet wanting it anyway. You need to unlearn everything you know about love for the third one to last.
It gives you a reason for all of your past relationships not working out before. When you hear actors in the movies say, “Oh that person swept me off my feet”, they don’t mean grand gestures, or presents, or public shows of affection, they mean that a certain person came into their life when they were least expecting it.
Someone you don’t need to hide your insecurities from, someone who just accepts you for who you are, and you, surprisingly, also accept them for who they are. At last, you will finally see how the component of commitment will give you a different, or rather, a fresh point of view in the relationship. This love will have lust, intimacy, and commitment.
The third love will break all the preconceived notions you once had, and that you swore to abide by. No matter how hard you’ll try to run in the other direction, you will find yourself being pulled back constantly. You will let this love change you, and mold you into the best possible version of yourself.
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Don’t get me wrong, all of these 3 types of love, even the third one, is no utopian love. This lasting one will also have its fights, moments that might break or shatter you, moments where you might start to feel your heart ache again.
However, at the same time you will also feel stability and safety. You will not want to run away, instead you will look forward to a better tomorrow. Perhaps, it’s all about who you can be completely yourself with.
Are there people who find all 3 types of love in one person? I am sure there are. Highschool sweethearts who one day end up marrying, have 2 kids, and live happily ever after. However, for most people, it is a long and exhilarating journey to find love.
It’s filled with tears, anger, heartache, but at the same time it also contains passion and desire like no one has ever seen. These 3 types of love may appear idealistic, whimsical, and unattainable. That, however, is not the case.
Everyone is entitled to love, and everyone discovers it in their own time and in their own way. There is no such thing as a ‘perfect time.’ When you’re ready to receive and return love, you’ll discover it. I hope this has helped you figure out where you stand on this path, and has given you hope to continue seeking love because you never know who you’ll stumble upon.
Most of the time, yes. From the 3 types of love, your third love has the most potential to be your soulmate. Not only because they are the right person for you, but also because you will be at a place in your life where you can cherish and blossom this love.
The deepest form of love is when you learn exactly how crucial it is to respect one another. No matter how disastrous of a fight, dealing with it while maintaining mutual respect for each other is the purest form of love to exist. Nothing is a better way to express love for your partner than to respect their decisions, choices, and feelings.
Here are the seven stages of love you are likely to experience as you fall for someone – inception; intrusive thinking; crystallization; craving, hope and uncertainty; hypomania; jealousy; and helplessness. All of these are normal to experience as you, gradually at first and then all at once, fall in love. Some stages might seem like the end of the world, but hang in here. You’ll find your person.
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