When I was working towards becoming certified as a divorce recovery coach, one of my favorite parts of the education process was a simple, yet profound understanding of the different types of love taught by my mentor, Tony Robbins.
The reason why it was so important to me, and I hope to you, is because it gave me a practical way in which to determine the level of love I was giving to those important to me. As you read through the four levels of love, you will gain the greatest benefit if you will:
Baby Love: Baby love is a love that has ceased to mature beyond the stage of infancy. This level of love is adorable and endearing, like a baby. That is, until it doesn’t get it’s own way. Then, it will cry, yell, scream, and act out in ways that come off as demanding. I’ll bet you know people like this. When everything is going their way, they are very pleasant; when it doesn’t, they turn on you like a rabid Doberman! They become vengeful, angry, and will make you pay by punishing you. Perhaps they withdraw from you or even consciously or sub-consciously hurt you. Can you remember a time when you yourself have behaved in a baby-level love? We all have.
Horse-Trading Love: Horse-trading love, or whoring love, as Tony calls it, is a love that is transactional. You give to me and I give to you. A whore gives love and gets money in return; it’s a transaction. Level-two type of love operates in the same fashion. When you are giving to me, kind to me, considerate, sensitive, and thoughtful, I have the wherewithal to give back to you. When you become unkind, inconsiderate, insensitive, and thoughtless, especially over a period of time, my reservoir of love dries up. This type of love, although more mature than baby love, has destroyed more marriages, friendships, and relationships with family members.
Unconditional Love: Unconditional love is the kind of love that gives because of who I am as a being, not because of how you are behaving in the moment. It does not “measure” to make sure I am getting as much as I am giving. It does not adhere to the “tit for tat” method. It is the kind of love that sets no conditions, no boundaries, and is unchanging, even in trying times. In Greek, the word is “agape,” which is likened to the way in which God loves us and the way we show god-like love to others.
Wikipedia refers to it as “a state of mind in which one has the goal of increasing the welfare of another, despite any evidence of benefit for oneself.”
Although this level of love is challenging to operate from on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth aspiring towards.
Can you remember a time when someone gave of themselves to you in a way that had no strings attached, but just because they loved you? And can you remember when you did the same for someone else? Didn’t it transcend you to a place that made you feel you were being the higher version of your true self?
Spiritual Love: Spiritual love is the type of love that has the capacity to love, even when it is being hurt. Figures in history like Gandhi and Mother Teresa are great images of this type of love. Don’t misunderstand this type of love; it is not a self-flagellating or martyr type of love that enjoys being hurt. It simply loves even in the presence of unwelcomed and unwanted hurt or harm.
It goes without saying that most of us don’t live in this mode of being on a continual basis, but as Michelangelo said, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”