‘Ohh, I love it when you do that’.
‘I just looove pizza’.
‘Don’t you love it when…’.
Love, love, love… love…….
That little four-letter word with a whole lot of oomph.
Sometimes we can feel extremely loved out, especially when we or others use the word over and over again to describe very different emotions and feelings towards each other, or things and experiences. For some of us it can be a difficult word to say. It does need to be said, but perhaps only when alleviated from overlapping connotations that can confuse us all.
Not understanding the different types of love can dull the enormity of some feelings that you experience, especially when they are compared with much more subtle emotions that you describe with the same word. It is important to avoid desensitization, which has a detrimental impact to your well-being. Those who are consistently subjected to highly impactful scenarios liken it to a coping mechanism.
So, here today, for your sanity and for the health of your many, differing relationships that you can have in your life, we are here to inform you that there are actually four legitimately different types of love that we all feel and experience. Yep, I’ll say it again. FOUR. Some are healthy and some not so much. One can and should lead to another whilst others don’t.
Love is complex, and by recognizing this and understanding the differences between each type of love, humans are able to differentiate and relate accordingly.
The 4 different types of love:
Eros. Roughly translated from the Ancient Greeks, worshipers of words, beliefs and rituals, Eros can be thought of as an erotic, passionate, intimate and sexual kind of love. It is addictive, manic and can be the source of great highs and equally great lows.
Eros is a very real and raw feeling that is generally stemmed from a physical attraction. It cannot survive on its own, but is a fleeting experience that paves the path towards other forms of attraction that need to be fostered with time.
Philia. The platonic, brotherly love found between friends and equals. Don’t mistake those feelings of philia however, as they can be powerful. They can be felt within a whole community, between lovers who have been together for a long time, and with very close friends and family members.
To best describe these feelings of philia, we can relate them to how you feel when playing a sport you love, when you have a rush of gratitude towards your equals, or that feeling of serenity and bliss you can have when taking a walk in the park and are simply enjoying every minute of it. Freely chosen, it is perhaps one of the higher forms of love we can experience.
It is the least natural of feelings of love and is difficult for modern science to explain the biological necessity of it. Necessary it is, however, as it has a positive impact on your health and well-being. It can lower blood pressure, reduce pain, shorten hospital visits, and is generally a kind of emotion that you should foster in your own life and attempt to provide to others who you care for deeply.
Storge. Family love. The feelings of love that parents have for their children and that is given in return. It exists within an immediate family and can often extend beyond to grandparents and close aunts, uncles and cousins. An unearned and extremely natural love that is ever-present, without corrosion and without question to whether the love is deserved or not.
In its everlasting and common form, storge can be seen as quite fragile as well. This is because the expectation for a parent to love a child does remove all responsibility on one to act appropriately for the right to this love.
In comparison, philia needs to be earned, respected and fostered, whereas children demand love and are expected to show this type of love.
Don’t view storge as nothing but innate emotions though. It is immensely important for the formation of all other types of love. It provides a foundation for our understanding of conditional and unconditional feelings that we can have towards one another.
Agape. An all-consuming, unconditional love that is generally described as God’s love for mankind. A feeling we strive for, Christianity models God on this feeling, as well as the action Jesus took when he sacrificed his life for all of mankind. Buddhists centralize this feeling to all living things.
To forgive takes agape, and this has a beneficial impact on health. A mother’s love for her child can be taken further than storge to this form of unconditional love that has no boundaries, asks nothing in return and is completely selfless.
But agape is more for the enlightened individual, one who, regardless of context or feelings, expresses without hesitation this love for oneself and for all of mankind. The Greeks found this to be quite a radical emotion that few could experience.
Perhaps we can place certain loves we have on a scale, as all emotions that we feel are fluid and evolving. We can also use these definitions of different types of love and combine them to accurately explain the kinds of love we have for the people, objects and experiences in our lives.