Writing about love may seem trivial, considering it's an integral part of everyone's life. Love touches us in so many ways, from the yearning for it, the experience of it, the rejection of it, to the act of giving it. Yet, how often do we truly reflect on the concept of love?
For years, I thought I had pondered love deeply. At 29, with a history of relationships, dating experiences, and evolving connections with my parents, I believed I had contemplated many facets of love. I questioned if I took too much or gave too little, if my actions inadvertently hurt someone's feelings, and how love had shaped my relationships. However, amidst all this introspection, I had never ventured into the realm of seeking an actual definition for love. Love, to me, had always been a feeling—one I either experienced or didn't. I had never imagined that love could be intellectualized into distinct categories. To my surprise, I discovered that humans had been doing just that, even in ancient times.
The ancient Greeks, in their wisdom, classified love into seven distinct types, each revealing a unique facet of this complex emotion:
1. Eros: Love of the Body
Eros is that passionate, overwhelming attraction that makes your palms sweat and your heart race. It's the kind of love that consumes your thoughts, making it impossible to focus on anything or anyone else. Eros is intoxicating, but it tends to be short-lived, centered around self-gratification. Given time, Eros may transform into a different type of love.
2. Ludus: Playful Love
Ludus is the love of flirtation and fun. It's the joy you feel when receiving a mysterious text, the thrill of teasing someone, and the creation of playful games that invite connection and laughter. Playfulness is often forgotten in long-term relationships, but it can keep love exciting and vibrant.
3. Storge: Familiar Love
Storge arises from familiarity or dependency. It doesn't hinge on personal qualities but can be imbalanced. Think of the love parents have for their children—a love based on natural instincts and effortless affection. Storge is marked by forgiveness, acceptance, and sacrifice, making you feel secure and comfortable.
4. Pragma: Enduring Love
Pragma is the love that stands the test of time. It evolves over a prolonged period, where sexual attraction gives way to appreciation for shared values, common goals, and the commitment to making a relationship work. It may not be the most romantic love, but it's enduring and practical.
5. Philia: Love of the Mind
Plato believed that physical attraction wasn't a prerequisite for love, leading to the concept of Philia, often referred to as "platonic" love. It's the deep affection you have for a close friend or a kindred spirit who shares your values. Philia thrives among equals and is not driven by sexual desire.
6. Philautia: Love of the Self
Philautia is the foundation of any healthy relationship. It stems from the belief that you can only love others when you genuinely love yourself and can care for others only when you care for yourself. Philautia in its healthy form involves self-acceptance and self-compassion. However, it can take a dark turn, becoming narcissistic and self-centered, causing harm to others.
7. Agape: Selfless Love
Agape is often regarded as spiritual or universal love. It is the purest form of love, free from desires and expectations. In Christianity, it's the love believed to be demonstrated by God and Jesus to all people. Agape is unconditional and selfless, transcending personal biases.
The concept of Agape presents a challenge. Can humans truly love unconditionally, even in the face of repeated hurt and disregard for their feelings? It's a question without easy answers, as it tests the limits of human capacity for love.
So, what is the "best" type of love?
The answer is as individual as you are, dependent on your values and what you seek in relationships.
Philautia, in its healthy form, is a necessary foundation, emphasizing love and respect for oneself. Greeks were wary of Eros, considering it intense and potentially harmful, as it can lead to a loss of self-control and unintended damage to emotions and relationships.
Relationships can evolve from Eros or Ludus into more enduring forms like Storge or Pragma. Pragma, which emphasizes partnership and shared values, personally resonates with me as a meaningful and fulfilling vision of love. It may lack the passion of Eros, but it offers a deeper, more lasting connection.
Agape, while considered ideal, challenges the bounds of human capability for selfless love. It may be the ultimate goal, but few may achieve it consistently.
Finally, Philia, the platonic love of friends, remains a beautiful and cherished aspect of love. The Greeks valued it highly, as it represents love between equals.
As you reflect on these forms of love, consider what resonates with your values and aspirations. Love is a complex and ever-evolving emotion, and understanding its nuances can deepen your connections with others and with yourself.
(References: Psychology Today, LifeHack, Loner Wolf, Thought Catalog)
About the Creator
I come from Poland, lived in US and did the "digital nomad" thing for 2 years. This got me to Mexico, where I found love and stayed 🏼
Writing about philosophy, psychology, economy and sometimes other random things.