Often I find myself writing poems, reading quotes, watching films like The Notebook and pining over the idea of love from a significant other. Now, I’m not sure I’ve ever even been in love before, but I know that I miss it, if that’s even possible.
I spend my days feeling as though there is a space in my heart that is yet to be filled –and sometimes can’t help but feel as though it was full once upon a time- but now I can’t escape this gaping feeling of loss or absence. That absence is love.
Valentine’s Day in particular is a dire case of salt in the wound. Suddenly the whole universe is avidly Instagramming, sharing their joy of the past, love of the moment and eager anticipation for the future. Meanwhile I am avidly scrolling, burying thoughts of my own past, painstakingly enduring the moment and eagerly anticipating tomorrow- Singles Awareness Day. That’s right, us miserable lot get a day too!
After moping around yesterday, with my only Valentine’s surprises coming from my mother and my boss, I have decided it’s time to stop looking and longing for a man’s love. Instead, I wanted to take a look at all of the other types of love there are in the world, and channel those relationships instead. To my joy, I came across the Seven Types of Love as according to the Ancient Greeks. Rather enlightened by what I found I wanted to share them, as well as my own interpretation of each, with our readers in the hope that it may help you realise just how loved you all are, today and every day.
1. Philautia - Love of self.
This love is perhaps the hardest, for me at least. I feel as though we, and my generation in particular, have been conditioned into believing our self-worth lies in the hands of other people and online. If we're not getting hundreds of likes, views, shares and connections- then quite simply we are not worthy. It doesn't matter that ten or twenty of our real life friends and family have shown appreciation of us, because that doesn't count. We rely on the verification of total strangers from all four corners of the world in order to feel even slightly content with ourselves. I am probably guiltier than most on this, but as of late I have started to see through this fictitious love. In an attempt to detox, I started all new social accounts and have only my nearest and dearest and my work connections on my friend’s lists. My most-liked picture stands at a humble 30 and I have never felt freer. I must admit, it has been a bit of a shock to the system. What's even stranger still is that I now have a lot more time with myself, and I've realised I'm not sure who I am. This can be a scary and confusing concept, but the idea that now I get to discover myself and learn things about myself that I never knew is also quite exhilarating. As I embark, -albeit a little later than most- on this journey, I hope that I am kind, patient and understanding, and that I fall in love with myself a little more every day.
2. Storge - The love that a parent holds for a child.
This is powerful and eternal. Unlike the other types of love, Storge is not a love between equals. Instead, it is the love a parent holds for a child whilst the child carries no responsibility to the parent. Despite everything, the parent loves the child exactly as they are and would sacrifice everything for them. My mother raised me as a single parent, I'll admit I've been a handful throughout my nineteen years, and she has never turned her back on me. True to the statement that the child holds no responsibility to the parent, I have often rejected her attempts to guide me and inevitably got myself into some sticky situations which have left me trailing back with my tail between my legs. Still, there are no "I told you so's" only "I love you's." Through it all, she's there with open arms. I think this is the love that we all take most for granted. I love you too, mum.
3. Ludus - Flirtatious and fun love without commitment.
Ah, Ludus! One I'm sure we're all familiar with. This is the feeling you might get when you dance with a stranger or flirt with a colleague, for example. It is fun, exciting and short lived and often described as child-like love associated with the laughter it brings. It's easy to get lost in this type of love for a short while. I think Ludus is very much the love we crave in this generation- the fleeting moments that mean everything yet nothing at all. I think I need more of this love right now. Heartfelt, pure and completely innocent- but just passionate enough to have you feeling warm inside.
4. Eros - The type of relationship we often associate with the word 'love.'
Eros is the Greek name for Cupid, who is depicted as a small child wearing a blindfold. According to legend, this is because Cupid was troubled by conflicted feelings. His opinions and ideas of love were ever changing, and he shot his arrows carelessly because of this. Eros is mostly based on lust and sexual attraction, and it is where the term “erotica” came from. It's said that the Greeks feared this kind of love the most. They saw it as dangerous because it was the type of love that could get them into trouble. Eros is strongly associated with younger generations, as young lovers often find themselves more instantly infatuated and lustful towards one another. No comment.
5. Philia - The shared sense of warmth with siblings or close friends.
I LOVE this love. I need more of it. As an only child, I can't speak for the sibling side of it, but I do have three friends who I class as my brothers and sister. They've been a part of my life for just shy of ten years, and I almost feel as though we all share parts of the same soul. We've laughed and cried, cuddled and cussed, there's not much -if anything at all- that we don't know about each other. Sometimes we've lost each other along the rocky roads of life, but we always find our way back to each other in the end. It is said that Philia far outlasts Eros and Ludus. It's also described as the sort of love that couples should strive to incorporate into their relationship because it is authentic, mutually beneficial and secure. Often people say that they would kill for or die for the people they care about most. Believe me, I would for them, but this? This is the sort of love that you would live for.
6. Pragma - Love based on dedication to the greater good.
Pragma is described as the highest form of love; a true commitment which requires compromise and understanding between partners. It's associated strongly with married couples, and often referred to as “standing in love” rather than “falling in love.” which I adore. Anyone can fall in love and it can prove to be fickle. Standing in love is a conscious choice to stay. This idea that two people can love each other so dearly that they will stand together so that their love outlives the hardest of times is such a beautiful sentiment. It gives me great hope that one day not only someone will love me this much, but that I myself will be capable of loving someone in such a way too.
7. Agape - The universal sense of love for all living things.
This is the love I intend to practice more within my daily life. Characterized by a strong connection to nature, humanity and the universe, Agape gives us the desire to do good things. Within this, I believe you'll find more peace within yourself. I am a great believer in the universe, and that the energy you emit will be returned back to you. If you are not kind, loving, hopeful- how can you expect your life to be filled with happiness? If you choose to only see the bad in things instead of searching for the good, then good will never come. The next time you feel yourself wanting to compliment, help or reach out to someone, don't hold back. Often we deprive ourselves of great joy out of fear of rejection or embarrassment. The truth is, we're all one small act of kindness away from our own happiness. There is no greater feeling than knowing you have touched someone else's life, heart or mind. You can channel Agape by volunteering, making a life style change such as starting to recycle, or even via something as simple as smiling at passers-by. Your smile might just give them the hope they need to change their own life.
I wish that I could delve deeper into this and write forever about all the different types of love there are in life. I have barely even brushed the surface with this piece, but I hope I have done enough to inspire you. Love your parents; love your family, your friends, your colleagues and the world around you. Live in the moment. Enjoy the here and now. We will never be any younger than we are right this second, so make it count. The world will not stop spinning for you. It's up to you to make the most of the life you have been blessed with. Most importantly, love yourself. You are the only one, and you matter.
"Take a moment to appreciate and honour all the different kinds of love you have in your life, instead of focusing on the one kind that you don't have."