How Do i Love Thee? Counting the Ways The poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning asked, “How do I love thee?” and then went on to “count the ways.” And there are many. When college students were asked to list all kinds of love that came to mind, they produced 216 entries, such as friendship, parental, brotherly, sisterly, romantic, sexual, spiritual, obsessive, pos- sessive, and puppy love. Focusing on the ups and downs and vagaries of romantic love, anthropologist Helen Fisher (2015) reports on the basis of a large national survey of 25,000 singles in America that over 54% of American singles believe in love at first sight, 58% of men and 50% of women said that they have had a “friend with benefits” (FWB) relationship, 28% have had a FWB friend turn into a long-term partnership, 89% believe you can stay married to the same person forever, 36% said they wanted a prenuptial agree- ment, and 33% believe it’s okay to leave a “satisfactory marriage” if you are no longer passionately in love.
Over the years, various schemes for classifying types of love have been pro- posed. From ancient writings, sociologist John Alan Lee (1988) identified three primary love styles: eros (erotic love), ludus (game-playing, uncommitted love), and storge (friendship love). As with primary colors, Lee the- orized, these three styles can be blended together to form new secondary types of love, such as mania (demanding and possessive love), pragma (pragmatic love), and agape (other-oriented, altruistic love). More recently, Tim Lomas (2018) used Internet sources to gather 619 words from various languages that have no coun- terpart in English and pertain to love. By grouping these words, he tentatively identified 14 “flavors” of love—such as a love of objects, places, and experiences; caring and affection, as for family and friends; romantic love characterized by intense desire; and “transcendent” forms of love, as seen in a love of a higher being or nature.
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