It's Complicated: Every Type of Love, Explained

Here’s why your dog, your sports team and even your favorite meal are capable of breaking your heart.


In February’s Bathroom Minutes magazine, we took a deep dive into the inner workings of a few common types of love, like love at first sight and familial love. But there’s more than one way to capture a heart, so we sat back down with Human Behavior Specialist Shelli Chosak, Ph.D., and Psychologist Aida Vazin to bring you an expanded look at the many types of love we feel, and to find out why we’re so easily enamored.

Love at First Sight
According to Chosak, love at first sight isn’t really love at all—it’s a combination of sexual desire and being brainwashed by fairy tales. “We have this notion of romantic love that’s mostly based on [the idea that] Prince Charming, so to speak, can provide us with the qualities we feel we’re lacking in ourselves, and thus, can make us whole.” Because of these unconsciously selfish undertones, Chosak warns that love at first sight can be unhealthy.

Long-Term Relationship Love
If love at first sight blossoms into a long-term relationship, Chosak says that while the passion may fade, it’s replaced with something much healthier. “Passion doesn’t last because it requires you to feel as though your wholeness will disintegrate if whomever you feel passionate about leaves you,” Chosak explains. “But in a healthy relationship, that passion transforms into comfort and trust.”

Familial Love
The love you feel toward your mother is similar in many ways to the comfortable, trusting love you feel toward a long-term partner. “When you develop a relationship over a long period of time [i.e., since you were born], you each get to see each other for all of your deficiencies,” Chosak explains. “Because of that, you learn to appreciate that person not in spite of their faults, but because of their faults.” That’s why they say a mother’s love never dies.

Puppy Love
The love your mother feels toward you, on the other hand, is probably a lot like the love you feel for your pet. “Because our pets love us unconditionally, we take responsibility for them, much like a parent would for their child,” Chosak explains. “Which is why, for those who may be disappointed with the quality of love they’re receiving from other humans, pets often make up for whatever is lacking.” Get over here, you ol’ mutt!

Love of Your Team
Chosak says love of a sports team isn’t about the team itself, it’s about belonging and connecting with others. “Ask yourself if the love you feel toward your sports team would still be as strong if you had to celebrate it on your own. That sports team allows you to identify with the rest of its following—the team just acts as the connective tissue.” Turns out, the love isn’t really for the game after all—it’s for the people the game introduces you to.

Love of Your Job
If you’re one of those workers who comes in early and stays late simply because you can’t get enough of your job, Chosak says that could be for a few reasons. “Some people love their job because it represents fulfillment of a lifelong dream or recognition of their talents,” she explains. “Others love their job because it compensates for a lack of fulfillment in other areas of their lives, or because it’s an escape from problematic relationships.” If it’s the latter, she says it’s not truly love of your job at all, but rather relief from the dissatisfaction you’re feeling with the rest of your life. In which case, a vacation may be in order.

Love of Food
Do you swoon at the sight of a steaming hot chicken pot pie? Aida Vazin says that kind of love is an emotion we learned when we were just wee kids. “The main reason appetite is such a hard feeling to control is because it’s one of the first coping mechanisms we learn as children,” she explains. “When we’re little kids and we scrape our knee or have to get a shot at the doctor’s office, we’re given a lollipop or an ice cream and told not to cry.” Those early moments, Vazin says, teach us that food isn’t just a biological necessity, it’s a form of instant gratification—or, instant love.