How do I love thee? Which of the nine ways?

UK researchers in the British Journal of Social Psychology in early June claimed to have identified nine varieties of love. Only 9? It sounds all so scientific (after all, it was published in a journal!). But dig a little deeper and you see the study had only 50 subjects answering a questionnaire of 60 questions. Take a different group of 50 subjects, and you likely would’ve come up with a completely different result. Studies of this design only work (statistically speaking, from a power perspective) if the subject pool is in the thousands.

Nevertheless, here they are, the supposed nine varieties of love:

  • A grown-up version that involves mutual trust, recognition and support
  • The “Cupid’s dart” variety, in which couples – think Antony and Cleopatra or even Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity – are swept away by blind passion
  • Hedonistic love, concerned with personal and perhaps fleeting pleasure, the theme of much Hollywood film noir
  • Love as the ultimate connection: an essentially romantic view
  • Demythologised love that recognises the need for hard work, patience and compromise to make things work
  • Love as transformative adventure: the emotional rollercoaster experience of a Bridget Jones figure
  • From Cupid’s arrow to a role-bound relationship dictated by society’s expectations – the experience of the tortured couple in David Lean’s film Brief Encounter
  • From Cupid’s arrow to the security of close friendship
  • Dyadic partnership love, in which two people become a single unit (and tend to finish each other’s sentences)