What Is Love?

I have heard many, especially religious leaders, say that there are different types of love. Hmm? One God but various forms of love? Why is that so? Could it be that there is only one true love, and all the others are fake? Or could it be that there is one love but varying degrees of intensity? According to the Greeks, there are eight kinds of love: Eros, Philia, Storge, Ludus, Mania, Pragma, Philautia, and Agape. Unlike many, I see them all as one. However, they do not all need to be present in a healthy, loving, and lasting relationship.

Eros is an intense and passionate form of love that ignites romantic and sexual feelings. We would typically relate this to falling in love and committing oneself to another. We often see this type of love burning out quickly because of the physical nature- the flames consistently need to be fanned. This type of love does not seem to last. Why? Eros in of itself is not pure or Godly love. Still, it is a feeling and action embraced by those who genuinely love each other.

Philia is a type of love that we all need to experience. It is a love that is felt among friends and couples who have persevered through hardships together. Whatever the turmoil may be, infidelity, sickness, poverty- this type of love endures and stands the test of time. I call it proven and genuine love. How can love exist without Philia? If you are married or together for ten or more years and do not have this kind of connection with your partner, something is seriously wrong and the relationship needs to be re-examined.

Storge is similar to Philia because it is love without physical attraction. This love is primarily due to familiarity and kinship bonds. It is a natural form of affection that grows between children and parents and even long-term friends. This powerful type of love can appear dangerous and unhealthy because of obstacles that threaten relationships such as differing religious views and disagreements about a person’s chosen career or life path. Too often, when a person decides to stop following the flock and walk their path. Their friends and family feel abandoned and neglected.

Ludus is called playful love. It contains an essence of eros in that we usually see this between young and new lovers. You know, the blushing, flirting, touching, and butterflies in the stomach feeling. It is that time when you outwardly express your affection, happiness, and freedom of being with a person. I believe Ludus is a vital part of every relationship. It keeps it alive, exciting, and fun. Can you imagine being in any relationship without this type of feeling and activity? How cold and dreary would that relationship be!

I always say, “Let my mania love be with God and not man!” Mania love is obsessive. That word alone scares me because I do not want anyone to obsess over me and I do not desire to be obsess with anyone. I do the best to distance myself from any relationship that is riddled with anger, drama, and madness. Mania can lead to unhealthy codependency. Someone drenched with this type of love wants to love and be loved to find some sense of self-value. Such a person feels as though he or she cannot have a complete life without a partner. Because of this, a person can become possessive, jealous, and desperate. I believe it can be wonderful to be wrapped up and intertwined in a healthy loving relationship, but there must be a limit. Each partner should have their own space and be able to feel complete and accomplished on their own.

Pragma is a precious jewel- very rare. It is pure and spiritual because it is beyond the physical and mundane. This unique harmonious relationship forms over time. We see pragma in close friendships and marriages. These bonds usually last for decades because of consistent forgiveness and compromise. Both sides learn to help, tolerate, and appreciate each other. Reciprocity is vital for having a lasting and meaningful relationship because no one desires to feel like they put in most of the effort or work.

Philautia is extremely important to me because being an HSP/empath has not been easy. As an adult, I had to learn how to pause, replenish, and take care of myself first. The Greeks understood that to care for others, we must learn to care for ourselves first. Many people mistake this type of love for personal gain and narcissism, but it is so far from that. Instead, it is very healthy. You learn to be comfortable in your skin and provide love to others. Aristotle said, “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feeling for himself.”

Agape is known as the purest, highest, and most radical type of love. It is spiritual, unconditional, and selfless. It is God, the omnipotent force that is forever giving and nonjudgmental. This love of abundance and infinity is so much bigger than ourselves and overflows with empathy. Agape is free from expectations and desires and loves regardless of the flaws or shortcomings of others. This is a love we can strive to have for others. Fortunately, many of us have come close to loving others in this manner. But, I truly believe only God can love like this.

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