February is shrouded in the colors and sentiments of love. For some of us that shroud may feel like a blanket of warmth, comforting and sweet. Others may feel passion and excitement, while still others may have sensations closer to desire or even indignation. Regardless of how soft or scratchy your blanket feels, this time of year is packed with emotion.
I was at a bakery yesterday marveling at the gorgeous and gaudy Valentine’s Day themed sweets. There were the standard hearts and cupids but also more romantic symbols of love like diamond rings and kissing lips. I found myself suddenly wondering about love and the different representations of it. What are the different types of love?
The ancient Greeks believed there were eight different varieties:
- Philia: Affectionate love, like that between friends.
- Ludus: Playful love, the early stages of falling in love. Think fluttering heartbeat and shameless flirting.
- Eros: Erotic love. Nuff said.
- Storge: Familiar love, like that between parent and child.
- Mania: Obsessive love, mad and jealous love. The kind that can be crazy-making and cause one to doubt their own worth.
- Pragma: Enduring love, often found in married couples or in friendships that have endured many, many years. This love is seeded in compromise and patience. Not nearly as exciting as Eros or Ludus so not nearly as common (unfortunately).
- Philautia: Self-love, you have to love yourself first before you are able to truly love others. Or as Aristotle put it: “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.”
- Agape: Selfless love, unconditional and free of desire or expectations.
I can relate to and have experienced many of these “love types” some with the same person over time, my husband. What I so appreciate about this list is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all mentality to it. Love is ever-changing and can show up in many different forms. I have always been a huge romantic and I’ve been known to absolutely gush over love songs. Something funny that I have noticed in recent years is that where in the past I would inject my current love interest into the focal point of the song, I now often inject my son! Not in a romantic way of course but in that all-encompassing, you stole my heart kind of way. Same song, different type of love.
There is a fair amount of negative connotation around Valentine’s day: Hallmark holiday, commercialized opportunity for jacked up pre-fix menus, yada, yada, yada… I challenge you however, to consider this day as an opportunity to honor whatever type of love you are blessed with in this moment. Love doesn’t have to be all Ludus and Eros. Why not focus on a little Philia and Storge? And above all, do not forget the Philautia. Love on folks!