How to be Happy by Experiencing Other Types of Love Beyond Romance

When discussing love and happiness, your thoughts will likely revolve around romance and the “happily ever after” notion. This is a common theme — but does that mean those who are single are miserable? 

Not at all. You should understand that love can come from many places. So, limiting love solely to romance denies you the many opportunities and sources of happiness. 

This article will discuss various types of love, how they could help foster your happiness, as well as the practical strategies for incorporating them into daily life. Tap into the power of love in pursuing happiness.

Understanding love beyond romance

Love is a positive emotion and cognition that involves strong interest, affection, or enthusiasm for and between living beings (e.g., people or animals/pets) and inanimate objects (e.g., cherished possessions, places, or works of art). This definition of love then highlights how the existence of love is not solely in the context of romantic relationships. 

This is further illustrated by Fromm’s forms of love. He proposed that one can only truly love an individual if one is capable of loving anyone. Therefore, he divides love into five categories:

  • Brotherly love. The fundamental form of love that emphasizes responsibility, care, and respect for others.
  • Motherly love. Unconditional affirmation of a child’s life and needs, instilling a love for life itself.
  • Erotic love. Intense craving for exclusive union and fusion with a specific person, exclusively.
  • Self-love. Affirmation of one’s own life, happiness, growth, and freedom intertwined with the capacity to love others.
  • Love of god. A psychological exploration of the love for God, rooted in the human experience of separateness and the innate need to overcome it through union.

Positive outcomes of love

Love comes in many forms, and each one acts as an avenue for fostering happiness. But what does it look like? Here are the manifestations of positive outcomes that love could take part in your happiness:

Promotes life satisfaction

Love is intrinsically pleasant, explained by its inherent biochemistry. Oxytocin, commonly known as the “love hormone” or “cuddle chemical,” improves pro-adaptive social behaviors critical for mammalian survival. These include social cohesion and attachment, promoting resilience and life satisfaction.

Prevents and mitigates loneliness

Love plays a crucial role in both avoiding and lessening loneliness by promoting deep social connections, providing support, and establishing a feeling of belonging. To counteract the harmful impacts of loneliness, it is essential to feel loved and connected to people through different connections.

Read more: The Science of Human Connection 

Fulfills the need for self-expansion

People have a natural need to expand their sense of self. One of the ways individuals could do so is through the experience of love and relationships. By forming these connections, people can access the identities, viewpoints, and resources of their loved ones, which broadens their knowledge and increases their efficacy in engaging with the outside world.

Strategies for cultivating non-romantic love

We are drawn to love as we are drawn to a flower — first by its beauty and allure … but the only way we can keep it alive is through consistent care and attention.

This is quoted from Jay Shetty, author of “8 Rules of Love: How to Find It, Keep It, and Let It Go.” This quote illustrates the give and take of love. This expresses that to receive love, you must also expend the energy to do so. So, here are ways to experience and nurture your emotions of love:

Nurture existing social bonds

The existence of a support system allows you to experience and nurture love. A support system gives people a feeling of value, affection, and belonging, which promotes a healthy social environment. 

Building upon existing relationships is a natural starting point for fostering social connections. Whether it’s with friends, colleagues, or family, you should take the initiative to strengthen these relationships.

Read more: Are You a Good Friend: Evaluating the Give-and-Take in Your Friendships 

You could do so by scheduling regular catch-ups, engaging in shared activities, and communicating openly to enhance your sense of connection and support. 

Build new social connections

Start building more networks to add more sources of love. This may be challenging, especially in adulthood. 

However, you could start participating in groups that align with your interests or values. Whether it’s a religious community, a hobby club, or a volunteer organization, these groups offer opportunities to meet new people who share your passions, making it easier to form new friendships and feel part of a community.

Read more: You Moved to a New Neighborhood — Now What? 

To form closer relationships, express your interest in others and be open to getting to know them. This means initiating conversations, being approachable, and sharing aspects of yourself. By signaling your willingness to connect, you invite others to engage with you.

Manage expectations

In experiencing love, the risk of disappointment will always be there.

This is usually caused by the expectation that is unmet within the relationship. To minimize the risk, you need to manage your expectations. Here are some ways for you to manage expectations toward your loved ones:

  • Acknowledge. The first step in managing expectations is to acknowledge their existence. Therefore, you should reflect on each expectation that you have for your loved ones and the relationships
  • Reflect. Managing expectations does not necessarily mean drastically lowering your standards. Instead, you should reflect on what you need and whether it is helpful or not. 
  • Share. Share your expectations with your loved ones. This allows them to understand and meet your needs, fostering a stronger relationship
  • Compromise. Understand that your loved ones may not always meet your expectations in the exact way you envision. Discuss the underlying needs behind your expectations and find mutually satisfying solutions. Be sensitive to changes and willing to adjust your expectations accordingly. 

Cultivate the habit of self-care

Self-love is the type of love that is crucial to nurture. The absence of this love would be detrimental. To foster self-love, it is recommended that you make self-care activities a habit. Self-care may look different for everyone. Whether it is through hiking, yoga, or playing sudoku, you should set aside a dedicated time for yourself to do these activities.

One of the challenges you probably have in making this habit stick is time constraints. However, it is important to understand that self-care activities don’t have to take hours. To make it more attainable, give yourself at least time for five minutes of dedicated self-care activities every day.

The activities you could do for these five minutes could be a short walk outside, massaging your neck or other sore body parts, or quick journaling. To make these five minutes count, you should be fully present and aware of engaging in these activities.

Read more: Love Languages and Self-Care: Nurturing Yourself According to Your Unique Needs

Encounter awe-inspiring situations

Awe is a positive emotion that arises when individuals are confronted with something vast and difficult to comprehend, prompting the process of mental structure adjustment. These experiences spark inner transformations, from subtle shifts in mindfulness to profound changes in attitudes and behaviors, which lead to emotional and spiritual connections

Thus, if you are religious, one of the ways you could foster your love of God is by experiencing awe. You can elicit this emotion through various stimuli. Here are some ideas for you to experience awe:

  • Take a trip to nature. Natural settings elicit feelings of awe in people due to their complexity and richness of information. Whether it is mountains, beach, or forest, go on and plan that trip!
  • Seek out a spiritual or religious experience. Another way to elicit awe is by engaging in spiritual or religious practices. By participating in ceremonies, reading religious texts, or prayer, you may experience feelings of smallness, wonder, and transcendence that contribute to an overall sense of awe.
  • Take a look at your current surroundings. Experiencing awe takes little effort and time. You can find awe in everyday objects and items. Intentionally, take a moment to observe and appreciate every photo, furniture, or art. Reflect on memories associated with them, pay attention to details you may have overlooked before, and allow yourself to feel awe and gratitude for the significance of these objects in your life

In conclusion 

To think that romance is the sole source of love means that you missed the chance to foster your happiness from many other places. So, you shall not take your other social connections for granted, as they allow you to cultivate different kinds of love for overall happiness.

Think for a moment about the love that is all around you. From self-love to friendships, embark on your journey to happiness!

If you would like to see more resources on love, check out the Happiness Science Labs. The lab uses the research of the Institute for Life Management Science to produce courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other tools. Visit the Happiness Science Labs today.

happiness science labs

Photo by ASphotofamily on Freepik

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.