There are said to be three kinds of Love, depending on how you look at it. (If anyone knows the source of this please let me know, it’s not my idea but I will try to flesh it out as best as I recall)
Three Kinds of Love:
The first is ‘love in the womb’ – the person is dependant upon love, receives it, needs it, like a foetus in the womb. Such a person, if they can receive such love from another, becomes nourished and grows over time. The challenge is that they may never wish to let go of their need for receiving love, their dependence upon another to love them. The person here is usually unaware of the needs of their lover and simply wishes to be loved. It is very much about oneself only. This love is like the Earth, biological, receptive, and natural.
Growing from this, one accrues the second kind of love: ‘love as twins’. This is a partnership agreement of mutual give and take; love here is an exchange where each person agrees to fulfil the needs of the other in exchange for their love. “I will fulfil your needs and wants while you fulfil my needs/wants.” It is a mutual agreement. Through this kind of love, people may learn that love is not just about receiving, but also giving, yet it is limited to a specific other; it is bound by the parameters of the ego. It is an agreement or exchange based on requirements in each other. The challenge here is to work within the parameters of the other to meet one’s own needs through co-existence. This love is like the moon, a reflection of moods, feelings, and sharing upon each other.
The third kind of love is ‘absolute love’. This is the highly ideal and highly romantic and/or mystical form of love. It is perhaps ultimately unreachable, but is aspired for and spoken about by mystics, saints, and other such folk. It has its roots not wholly in this world. Absolute love is unconditional love; it does not need any particular person or object to love or to be fulfilled in love; it is completely independent of others and will love regardless of the response of another. The joy of this love is the love itself and its overflow into the world. It is love regardless of who or what a person is, does, looks like, thinks – without any conditions, even if they be the greatest tyrant of evil, one’s torturer or a slave master; this love is equal to these people in quantity as to an innocent infant. It is completely giving of love without asking for anything in return, and it is love through wisdom. For such love to be sustained, a person must be well and truly connected with the essence of their own being and the sacred centre of existence (i.e. soul and God/Goddess) and be fully developed in character and noble conduct. The challenge of such love is patience and sustaining the way of the heart. Since human beings are still learning and growing as souls, there is a sorrow that comes with this love that sees them floundering when a way of greater inner freedom for others is known and wished for them. The soul may not be ready for such. This love is like the Sun; endlessly giving of light and warmth.
We learn and we grow through all experiences of love, whether received, shared, or given, and there is no ranking of better or worse here – all is significant on the journey to the centre of the heart. Understanding this long long journey and oneself, one can become more conscious about their own relationship with love, and those they are connected to through this.
To fully awaken the third stage of love requires knowing well the second stage, and to fully awaken the second stage requires knowing the first stage. (Note: I don’t really like this stage idea as a progression to something greater like a ladder, but more like phases of soul growth in an endless spiral of learning, as a return to the greater truth of love.)