How many times over the past few weeks have you said to someone, “I love you.” What type of love were you referring to when you said it? There are many types of love. In fact the ancient Greeks came up with six different types of love and all offer something for us to consider. When you say to a partner, family member or dear friend, ‘I love you’ how does that affect you? Did you feel it? Actually, love occurs not in the heart but in the brain. Our brains emit chemical signals to help us understand the feelings of love. These feelings vary greatly depending on the type of love we are experiencing. The six categories the ancient Greeks defined are worth considering.
Eros – this is the passionate, intense romantic love that arouses our sexual feelings and focuses more on self than the other person. Interestingly, this type of love may not last unless we develop deeper types of feelings of love that focuses on the other person to which we are attracted rather than just ourselves.
Storage – this is love based on family and friendship. It is also the type of love that we have for our children. It is unconditional – meaning it accepts the uniqueness – the flaws – in others and causes us to forgive them. It is the type of love that is committed and based on sacrifice. Feelings of security and total acceptance is experienced.
Ludus – when you see a playful type of exchange between two people such as flirting or teasing or even dancing in an early stage of a relationship you are seeing this type of love.
Philia – this is the warm, affectionate and platonic love for another which also involves the love of self.
Agape – this love is selfless and unconditional. It sees beyond the surface of another and experiences unconditional acceptance for all people. Unfortunately, this type of love has declined significantly over the past 40 years with the biggest decline being over the past decade – especially in the U.S. When we sort and select according to our existing comfort zones we can eliminate the power of experiencing Universal love which fuels the humanity in all of us.
Pragma – the long term, deep understanding of love between couples who have been together for a decades, possibly even lifetimes. Patience, tolerance and the ability to make compromises causes the relationship in this form of love to weather the storm of change because of our selfless feelings towards the other.
For a relationship to grow deeper with time all these different types of love need to be experienced. Ultimately, the ages and stages of happy, supportive relationships last due, in part, to the ability of each person to experience each of these types of love with their significant other.
Does that mean that each type of love is sufficient unto itself? Absolutely not! What it does mean is that there is an internal drive – a yearning – in each of us to experience the totality of love.
When we fall into the judgment mode in our minds separating others that we do not feel of value and certainly not worthy of our love or respect due to their differences we hurt ourselves. We fall into the trap of generalizations – and negative energy begins to surround us. Any judgmental energy can be felt by others which causes them to respond in kind. You may not like the behavior of others but to remember that each of us are reaching for acceptance and belonging would go a long way in reaching an Eros type of love for mankind. Our world would become a better place.
When we realize that love comes in many forms and each type is good for our soul – our spirit – amazing things happen. We become more at peace with ourselves and grateful for our place in the Universe. It gives us more energy which keeps our emotional motors running. We have a sense of something bigger, more important than ourselves which enlarges our world.
The next time you say to someone, “I love you,” think about the six types of love. It is a subject worth pondering.
Have a great few days!