Love is one of the most complex human emotions. Each time a person falls in love, it feels so new and amazing. Many of the behaviors we exhibit when we fall in love are universally true around the world. For example, almost every culture in the world deals with people that fall in love outside of their social sphere of influence and yet find a way to be together. It’s a complicated thing, love.
Robert Sternberg, a professor at Cornell University and a well-renowned psychologist, came up with the Triangular Theory of Love. Not to be confused with the term “love triangle,” in this theory there are three interconnected types of love involved in every relationship. They may occur in a certain order, or simultaneously. These are: passion, intimacy, and commitment.
Three Types of Love
His theory states that you will find these three types of love all around the globe; no matter the culture, social status, or wealth of individuals.
- Passionate love – Passion is the excitement and anticipation you feel about the one you love. Usually strongest at the beginning of every relationship, when two people are falling in love they want to be together all the time. They think about each other all the time. It is universal, and it is clearly evident when it happens.
- Intimate love – Intimacy is about the connection between two people. Being close to one another, discovering each others feelings, and bonding. Intimate love is the warmth in your belly when your love is holding you close.
- Commitment love – This is the type of love that develops over time and involves making a decision to commit to one another forever. The type of love within that commitment may vary, but it’s an important distinction between passionate and intimate because you’ve chosen to do everything you can to continue to love them. You can have commitment love without having passionate or intimate love.
These three types of love appear across every single culture. Human feelings of love are universal and what sets us apart and above from other species. It drives us. It moves us. It connects us.
Culture involves the behavior and experiences of those around us. Circumstances influence our behaviors, so we often act similarly to those in our community or country. Most people think of art or food when it comes to culture as these are the most obvious examples, but the ceremonies, customs, and rituals influence our preferences and beliefs at a deep psychological level.
Our rituals are also part of our culture. Rituals are often the direct descendants of an area’s traditional ancestral beliefs and religions, mixed with modern conveniences and technologies. What does this have to do with love? Everything.
How we measure potential romantic interests all depends on how our culture has influenced the way we see people. We’re taught by example from our neighbors, family, and media what type of traits are attractive and what traits aren’t.
Many times, people fall in love or have passion for someone of the “wrong” social position or religion, but usually people stay within the culturally drawn lines. In some cultures, it’s okay, and even celebrated, to go as far out the lines as you want, but in other cultures the lines are drawn very strictly and subject to extrication from your community if you stray outside them.
Different cultures value different behaviors and have different roles for men and women. In some locations, polygamy is commonplace in marriage. In many other countries, that would be simply unacceptable, maybe even criminal.
Before the world was connected, traditional beliefs and culture were extremely different all around the world. Countries like China and India typically involved parents or elites joining two people together based on a criteria of social status or political advantage. In Europe, royalty and the aristocracy strengthened political alliances by marriage, and the lower classes were sometimes allowed to marry for love.
African tribes developed many different types of marriage contracts based on their religion, circumstances, and traditions. In the traditional Yoruba population of Nigeria, a Babalawo consults an oracle to determine the favorability of a proposed wedding date and to determine if the couple will have a positive marriage blessed with children.
Arranged marriages and dowries are still traditional in many countries. The idea of finding a love match based on, well, love is a very modern concept. As communication improves and people around the world are exposed to new ideas, these traditions are beginning to weaken. But, some communities hold fast to them and cherish their ancestry.
Global Connectivity and Tradition
Media and technology have changed long-held traditions dramatically, with young people watching dating shows and sitcoms that portray couples falling in love. Dating apps are becoming popular in countries where just a decade or so ago hugging and talking between genders was strictly forbidden.
These influences have led to dramatic changes in the way marriage is viewed around the world. As we move towards a more connected world, our traditional beliefs and rituals are changing, largely because of the universality of how we love one another. New traditions are being made every day.
Marriage for the sake of love is spreading all over the globe, giving young people hope for their future and control of their destiny.
Learn How to Say I Love You in Other Cultures and Languages
We’ve sought out writers from around the world to help explain their love culture and how to say I love you where they live or are from. Some of these cultures are embracing western lifestyles while others are holding steadfast in their traditional ways
Now, go forth and enjoy reading about the myriad of culture’s around the world. All of the articles below are listed in this format: Area/Country – Language Spoken
Please read all of the articles in this series with an open mind. These pieces are written by someone intimately familiar with the local culture, a culture which is unique from the one you live in.
It is possible you will strongly disagree with some of the practices. In this case, learn from the culture, and try to look for some small token of the culture you can appreciate.
If you enjoyed this series, please comment below with your thoughts. Do you have a unique tradition in your country our readers might enjoy? Let us know below. And if you fancy yourself a writer, we’d love to hear from you and potentially publish your community and language’s traditions.
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