The various levels of love

Photo by Gustavo Fring on

There are different levels of love. Love is love, but equal love is not shown to all people. The love for one’s family is definitely on a higher level than the love for one’s country. A mother will certainly love her child more than she’d love the child of another woman. The lowest level of love is humanity, which comprises of courtesy, occasional kindness, and civility to regular people. Such level of love does not involve enormous sacrifices, a great deprivation of one’s needs, or what seems like loving your neighbor more than you love yourself. Therefore, by humanity, you may be polite, respectful, and occasionally lend a hand, but you are not concerned enough to be emotionally attached to the wellbeing of other people. 

A little higher on the scale than humanity is acquaintanceship. You are aware of the existence of your acquaintances, but do not know much about them. You probably don’t know where they live, where they work, what they do, etc. You only ask for their help when you need them and they do the same when they need your assistance. They call you when they need you, and you call them when you need them, and that’s it. You don’t remember them except when you have needs, and they don’t remember you until that moment they realize you possess the ability required to solve their problems. Of course, you are polite to and respect these people, but more importantly, you need them and they need you, and there is nothing wrong with that. 

Higher on the scale than acquaintanceship is friendship. Your friends are concerned about your welfare and success. They may not always be there to help you achieve your dreams, simply because they are neither omnipotent, omniscient, nor omnipresent. However, they do the little they can do, and show that they care. They have other responsibilities they must attend to, and find time out of their already occupied schedule just to check up on you to ensure that you are doing well. The mere fact that they contact you, simply to check up on you and be of assistance to you shows that they care about your wellbeing, and thus makes them good friends. 

Higher on the scale than friendship is romance. Your romantic partner satisfies your need for intimacy and sex. And your need for intimacy is a bit deeper than your need for friendship, which means you like to spend more time with your romantic partner than with your friends. You also understand that your romantic partner has this need for intimacy and sex and therefore would want you to satisfy this need more often than not. You may therefore find that you sacrifice more of your time and resources for your romantic partner than you sacrifice for your friends. This is indeed a deeper level of love, which shows that the intensity of love does vary. 

The last level, and definitely the most intense, is the love for one’s progeny (for example, a mother’s love for her child). Spouses may separate or divorce from an acrimonious marriage, but will never want to be separated from their children. They will go to court to fight for the custody of their children, simply because the love that a parent has for his/her child is the greatest love of all. While all other levels of love are largely conditional, this is the last level, which is definitely unconditional. Your romantic partner and friends will be loyal to you as long as you are loyal to them, but your parents will never abandon you, irrespective of how completely annoying you are. Friends can be fed up of you and make newer, better friends, and romantic partners can fall out of love and hook up with more interesting people. However, your parents cannot give up on you because you are all they’ve got.    

Unconditional love exists, but mostly between parents and their children. This kind of love can also exist between adoptive parents and adopted children, foster parents and foster children, brothers/sisters/siblings whose parents are dead, abandoned children who are bonded by a need for family, and other people whose need for a loving family has not been satisfied. Unconditional love, which involves suffering intensely as you make an effort to make another person better off, regardless of how badly that other person treats you, is alas extremely rare.