Come February, everyone talks about Love. Valentine’s Day has by far been one of the best marketing avenues for most brands ranging from diamond rings to flowers to chocolates to insurance policies! Of course, it’s a day to express love in varied forms. And celebration involves gifts.
Beyond gifting and other forms of expression of love, I think Valentine’s day is also a day for understanding our perception of what love is. Are there different forms and facets of love? How does love evolve in a person and in a relationship?
As a psychology student, I have always been fascinated by Maslow’s need hierarchy model and have tried to connect it many times to various scenarios. So, let me try connecting the pyramid to a Love Evolution Hierarchy reverse pyramid. Since we are talking about love, let’s give it a heart shape!
Consider the facets of love that evolve within ourselves. I think as we age, and mature, this love also progresses from a basic stage to a self-actualization stage.
Stage One: Possession Love Or Love for Things / Possessions
Most of us start with the basic level is our love for a thing. For eg: Love towards a particular dress or certain personal possessions like owning a particular brand of mobile phone or property or house. The challenge with this love is that once you obtain or possess this, the love diminishes. Not just that, people who fall in “true love” with materialistic things have been found to have certain psychological issues like loneliness. The study, titled “Truly, Madly, Deeply: Consumers in the Throes of Material Possession Love” and authored by a trio of marketing professors for the Journal of Consumer Research, takes a close look at “love-smitten consumers” who are particularly ga-ga over four products: cars, computers, bicycles, and guns. Material possession love, as they define it, involves an attachment that incorporates passion, intimacy, and commitment and they found that when someone suffers from “social deficits” (i.e., loneliness), they are more likely to grow attached to possessions. This can be equated to the “Physical needs” level of Maslow’s.
Stage Two: Relationship Love (Love towards an Individual)
The second stage is what Valentine’s day celebrates! Love towards an individual leads to forming a deep relationship. Again, this love fluctuates as one evolves in life. Just like the theory of love expects, the variables of passion, intimacy, and commitment
vary as per the type of relationship and as the relationship matures or evolves. In some cases, when we tend to focus our entire “love” on one person, it ends up in heartbreaks and pain.
However, there are also examples of the great love between two people which grows consistently over a long period. This level can be equated to the “Security needs” of Maslow. I think this is a need for human beings where depending on another person adds to the “need for security” – a sort of risk mitigation for loneliness. In this stage, happiness is intermittent and there is an equal possibility of pain.
Stage Three: Self-Love The third level is about self-love.
And this is where we start climbing the ladder of love! Most human beings subjected to various types of conditioning end up focusing on the bottom two levels, until they reach self-love where they realize how precious and beautiful they are. They then place everything else aside and prioritize self-love. This makes them confident in themselves and also keeps them away from any insecurities. However, it takes a lot of time, especially for many women and for some people who are subjected to various traumas to start loving themselves and accepting themselves. Once they do, life becomes easier and more interesting. This stage could be equated to Maslow’s “Love and belongingness” stage and this is where so-called, “true love” begins! True Happiness is definitely a part of this stage.
Stage Four: Love towards Passion / Calling
The fourth level is even more interesting. This is the stage where we realize our passions or calling. People who start to love their passion or calling beyond their livelihood needs or other types of love, enjoy a lot of happiness and evolve to exuberate happiness in their lives and the work they do. This stage can be equated to the “Self-esteem needs” of Maslow where the focus is on developing a new identity based on the love for passion. People in this stage of love, generally do not bother or are concerned about other stages of love and will be joyful being and doing what they love – their passion.
Stage Five: Universal Love
And now, the topmost part of the Love Pyramid. This is so special and probably very few people in this world reach this stage. Just as in Maslow’s pyramid, this “Self Actualisation” mode of love is what I call “Universal Love”. When people reach this stage, we see the magic happening to not just them, but to the society around them. They fall in love not just with people around but also the animals, and plants and even find life in inanimate objects. Everything around these people will be flowing with love. And this universal love helps them accept everything without judgments and find happiness in helping everyone evolve to their full potential. When someone reaches this stage of Universal love, we might see them living a simple life while contributing and working towards greater causes. Some people might become a monk or launch the greatest charity works, while others might be helping their locality with their kindness and compassion. They enjoy ultimate happiness and joy and feel fulfilled with their lives. They rarely seek validation from others and are in a “grateful” and “giving” role most of the time. Anyone getting in contact with a person of universal love will feel the love and happiness and this becomes contagious.
I came across a piece of news from history that was circulating on the internet recently. We might not have heard or read much about this in history books. If you zoom in on the photo of the woman shown in the picture, you will see a huge diamond worn around her neck. This is a 254-carat Jubilee Diamond which is equal in size and weight to the world-famous ‘KOHINOOR’ diamond. This woman is Meherbai Tata who was the daughter-in-law of Jamshedji Tata and the wife of his eldest son Sir Dorabji Tata. In the year, 1924, when there was a recession due to the First World War, the Tata Company did not have the money to pay salaries to the employees.
Then Meherbai mortgaged her priceless Jubilee Diamond in Imperial Bank for Rs 1 crore, so that the employees get regular salaries and the company continues to run. After her untimely death from blood cancer, Sir Dorabji Tata established the Tata Memorial Cancer Research Foundation by selling this diamond for better treatment of cancer patients in India. This monument built for love is a gift to HUMANITY.
Well, this forwarded message, summarises the evolution of Love that I described. When we reach that stage of universal love, we are ready to even give away our most prized possessions! I am sure, you will be able to identify people from among your circles who can fit into the above stages as I described. Now, the big question is: What stage are you in? There is no harm in being in any stage, as long as you realize that happiness grows as you evolve from the basic stage to the top of the pyramid.
On this Valentine’s day, let’s decide to move ourselves to the next stage from where we are!
Universal Love and Abundance,
(Dr. CeeVee is the pen name of Dr. Chandra Vadhana R, Founder of Prayaana Labs and Managing Editor, SheSight)
Disclaimer: The Love Evolution pyramid model is not a validated or scientifically proven model and is only a proposition by the author.