There’s a lot of confusion and fear about the subject of love.
I think it’s because we have only one English word – “love” – to describe a broad range of meanings.When I say, “I love my husband, I love my son, I love my friend Jane, I love everyone,” it’s clear that I’m talking about different kinds of love, but our everyday language is inadequate to describe what they mean.
The ancient Greeks had four words to describe love: agape, phileo, storge and eros.
I had a profound ‘aha’ moment when I learned these words and it opened up my heart to experiencing more love.
Agape is the most powerful, noblest type of love: unconditional, sacrificial /charity love that involves caring for another – regardless of the circumstances.
Agape love is a choice – an act of will, not a feeling.
This type of love desires the welfare and betterment of others regardless of how we feel about them. This includes people whose personalities clash with ours and those who hurt us and treat us badly.
Christians are taught to love everyone with agape love.
Agape love is of, and from God, whose very nature is love itself. The Apostle John in his chapter of the bible wrote “God is love.”
Phileo or Philia love refers to a brotherly /sisterly love and is most often expressed in a close friendship.
Best friends will display this generous and affectionate love for each other as each wants to make the other happy.
Since Phileo love involves feelings of warmth and affection toward another person, we do not have Phileo love toward our enemies as we do when we feel Agape love.
Phileo is friendly love based on feelings or emotions. When men hug each other to say hello, they’re feeling Phileo love. When women get together for dinner with their girlfriends, they’re feeling Philia love.
Storge love is an affectionate love, the type of love between a parent and child, or for a spouse.
It’s a naturally occurring, unforced type of love.
Eros love is passionate or sexual love – or being in love. Eros focuses primarily on sensuality and self. While Eros is important within a romantic partnership or marriage, it can also be abused or mistaken for Storge love.
The love between romantic partners ideally includes, among other things, Eros love.
However, a relationship based solely on eros is doomed to failure. The “thrill” and newness of sexual love wears off quickly.
However, when Eros love includes Agape, Philio/Philia and Storge love, it sweetens the experience of romantic love and is the basis for love that lasts.
I wonder what would happen in the world if these words that define the four types of love became part of our everyday vocabulary?
Would more people express more love freely?
Would people be better equipped to identify the type of romantic love that can last a lifetime?
How much more love can you send out into the world knowing this language of love?
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