Love is All Around Us

While we only have one word for LOVE, the ancient Greeks in their pursuit of wisdom and self-understanding found seven different varieties of love.

Most of us intend to be compassionate beings, yet our hectic schedules can often get in the way of simply being kind to one another. Identifying the different types of love out there helps us realize how deep our connection is with others, and extends that love to the world around us.

Here is how the Greeks described the different varieties of love that we all experience at some point in our lives:

Eros [sexual passion]: Named after the Greek god of fertility, this kind of love represents the ideal of passion and desire, but also irrational and dangerous. In Greek mythology, it is a form of madness brought about by one of Cupid’s arrows. The arrow breaches us and we ‘fall’ in love, as did Paris with Helen, leading to the Trojan War and the downfall of Troy and much of the Greek army.

Philia [deep friendship]: This type of love is all about loyalty and comradeship. It encompasses a brotherly love that shows a mutual compassion and respect. Plato felt that physical attraction was not a necessary part of love, hence the use of the word platonic which means, “without physical attraction.” Philia is a type of love that is felt among friends who’ve experienced challenges together.

Philia [deep friendship]: This type of love is all about loyalty and comradeship. It encompasses a brotherly love that shows a mutual compassion and respect. Plato felt that physical attraction was not a necessary part of love, hence the use of the word platonic which means, “without physical attraction.” Philia is a type of love that is felt among friends who’ve experienced challenges together.

Storge [familial love]: is a natural form of affection that flows between parents and their children. Storge is the fondness born out of familiarity or dependency and, unlike Eros or Philia, does not hang on our personal qualities. Storge is a powerful form of love, yet it can also become complicated, when our families don’t align with our life choices.

Ludus [playful love]: A playful affection between children or subtle flirtation for casual lovers. The type of affection and innocence we feel in the beginning stages of love. Playfulness in love is an essential ingredient that is often lost in long-term relationships. Yet playfulness is one of the secrets to keeping the childlike innocence of our love alive, interesting and exciting.

Agape [love for everyone]: Also known as selfless and unconditional love, Agape is universal love, such as the love for strangers, nature, or God. This is the highest and most radical type of love according to the Greeks, it is the purest form of love that is free from desires and expectations, and love regardless of the flaws and shortcomings of others. Over the last decade, with the steepest fall in the planet health, and rise of hatred toward strangers, we urgently need to revive our capacity to Agape nature and strangers.

Pragma [long standing love]: Making compromises and showing patience. This kind of love teaches you to make an effort to give rather just receiving it. Pragma is a love that has aged, matured and developed over time. It is beyond the physical, it has transcended the casual, and it is a unique harmony that has formed over time. This is the kind of love that couples who have been together for a long time experience.

Philautia [self-love]: The Greeks understood that in order to care for others, we must first learn to care for ourselves. This form of self-love is not the unhealthy vanity and self-obsession one. Instead Philautia shares the Buddhist philosophy of “self-compassion” which is the deep understanding that only once we have the strength to love ourselves and feel comfortable in our own skin, will we be able to provide love to others. As Aristotle put it, “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.”

The message from the Greeks is to nurture the varieties of love and tap into its many sources. Don’t just seek Eros, but cultivate Philia by spending more time with old friends, call your Mom/Dad for a nice dose of Sorge, or develop Ludus by dancing the night away.

Be patient as love is evolving, a relationship may begin with plenty of Eros and Ludus, then evolve towards embodying more Pragma or Agape. Stop judging yourself, and start to practice a bit more Philautia.

The Greek system helps us map all of the seven loves that are present in our lives. We may discover that we've got a lot more love than we had ever imagined –– even in the absence of a physical lover.

Look around, open your heart a bit more, then see the magic happen...

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