The are many definitions we use when we say we love you. The term is used as a son or daughter, as a mother or father, as a lover and as a friend.
Love revolves around forgiveness, helping and supporting each other and as such is fairly straight forward. Complications tend to arise in what we term as love when it cross's the barriers into intimacy.
Aristotle wrote over 2,300 years ago.
"One person is a friend to another if he is friendly to the other and the other is friendly to him in return" (Aristotle, 330 BC, trans. 1991, pp 72–73). Aristotle believed that by nature humans are social beings. Aristotle also suggested that there were three different types of relationships. People are attracted to relationships that provide utility because of the assistance and sense of belonging that they provide. In relationships based on pleasure, people are attracted to the feelings of pleasantness and that they are engaging. However, relationships based on utility and pleasure were said to be short lived if the benefits provided by one of the partners was not reciprocated. In relationships based on virtue, we are attracted to others' virtuous character. Aristotle also suggested that relationships based on virtue would be the longest lasting and that virtue based relationships were the only type of relationship that each partner was liked for themselves.
This I believe is a simplification, yet stands true even today.
In modern day terms, we naturally expand upon this basic ideas, add words and analyse details. After all language itself has expanded a great deal over the last 500 years.
Today we would say that the 3 relationship stereotypes are:-
Materialistic relationships, ones based on material needs, money and they security that it brings on a basic level.
Sexual relationships, ones based on desire and physical satisfaction.
Mutual relationships, ones in which we feel secure and do not feel the need for false pretence.
It stands to reason the 3rd type, or mutual relationship contains aspects of the previous two, yet neither are the dominating factor.
Ironically when you look at the first type of relationships, in today’s society you will often find that it leads people to have 2 partners one for each aspect. People are social creatures, and in today's society it is drummed into us from an early age the need for material security, this in itself does not lead to personal fulfilment as sexual needs are inherent to human nature. This often leads to adulterous relationships.
When looking at the sexually based relationships, this often lead to people who have multiple short term relationships with in their lives. The details of which are always individual, a common factor that occurs is a breach of trust, often owing to partners not fully understanding each other or more to the point lack of self-esteem existing within one or both parties involved. This over long term creates negative emotional reactions with in one or both parties and ultimately leads to the breakdown of a relationship.
Often with ending with feelings of jealousy, self-defacement. Both of the above relationship stereotypes are often formed based on insecurities.
The third and elusive type. Which provides for long term satisfaction and fulfilment. I would speculate that these are formed when you are not actually looking for love and have personal satisfaction in who you are.
The laws of attraction come into play across the board, therefore it stands to reason, that only when you have stability in yourself will you find a relationship which builds upon this.