The Meaning of Love

One of the goals I have set for 2017, was to read at least two books a month. I am currently re-reading “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and have just finished reading “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers. Due to the nature of both books, I have found myself pondering on why we as human beings crave love so much and why it plays an important role in our lives. Is there truly a universal meaning of love? Many are not aware of the different types of Love that have been explored throughout history and instead are incessant on pursuing one specific type of love, which I’m sure you are all familiar with… Romantic Love also known as “Eros Love”.

From birth, we are fed images of love and are told happily ever after stories, so what else would we want as adults, than for an intentional pursuit of finding our one true love? The interactions between humanity is a phenomenon that has been explored throughout the ages. One thing I am sure we will all agree on is that there are different ways to love and this is explained by how we interact with one another. Our own individual descriptions of love will be complexly different nonetheless, they are all as important as each other.

Let’s have a look at the 7 different types of love that are commonly discussed.

1. “Eros Love”: also known as Romantic and Erotic Love

This first type of love was named after the Greek God of fertility and it represents the idea of sexual passion and desire. Historically this type of love was not always viewed positively, it was considered that many focused too much on this type of love and therefore they would lose sight of Love itself.

“Of all loves [Eros] is, at his height, most god-like; therefore most prone to demand our worship. Of himself he always tends to turn “being in love” into a sort of religion. Theologians have often feared in this love, a danger of idolatry. I think they meant by this that the lovers might idolise one another… The real danger seems to me not that the lovers will idolise each other but that they will idolise Eros himself. [110-111]. – C.S. Lewis

Eros lovers are known to emphasise physical attraction as being the ultimate important feature when seeking love. Let’s be honest many seek this type of love within a relationship, don’t we all hope to fall madly in love with someone, someday? However, is it the person that we crave or their ability to love? A relationship based on gratification of the flesh only, will eventually die out. “I’ve fallen out of love…” – sound familiar?

2. “Philia Love”: also know as Shared Experience or Deep Friendship

The Greeks valued this type of love far above Eros Love. It was considered that the love between two friends was meant to run so deep (to the point of sacrifice), therefore not making it superficial like Eros Love. This is where one may think of the common statement “I love you like a brother”, in fact this type of love reminds me of David and Jonathan in the Bible. One might begin to wonder what depth our friendships have these days, when we live in a society whereby the number of “followers” one has is where some place their value.

3. “Storge Love”: also known as Family Love

This type of love is pretty self explanatory and describes the type of love that a parent has for their child. Even within a romantic relationships Storge lovers aim to build strong friendships with one another, which in turn develop into feelings of intimacy and Eros Love.

4. “Agape Love”: also known as The Love of Humanity

Agape love is known as the most selfless type of love, which is spoken about in most religious texts like the Bible. It is described as being self-sacrificing and altruistic love. This is the type of love that endures which is extended to all and not dependent on a pre-existing relationship. Ask yourself, how empathetic are you towards strangers? Are you wiling to be a blessing to someone whom is incapable of returning the equivalent?

Love is patient, Love is kind…

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

5. “Ludus Love”: also known as Flirting, Playful, Affection

This is the type of Love that the Greeks referred to, for the affection between young lovers and also children. Dependant on your personality is dependent on how you exhibit this type of love. As an adult you may feel that society may frown upon exhibiting this type of frivolity, and to some you may not care about the opinions of others. One description that I like about myself is “I’m an old soul but young at heart”. Meaning that on occasion, I choose to take an absence of leave from adulthood (that is well needed) and have a carefree attitude about life, which can appear quite childlike. We all needed a bit of playful love in our lives, go on take that step, be bold, dance with a stranger, or kiss the one you love in the pouring rain. Ludus lovers are known to become addicted to the excitement of forming new relationships, which doesn’t always make the pursuit of finding love that lasts very achievable.

6. “Pragma Love”: also know as Love which endures, Longstanding Love

This is the type of love described when individuals recite their vows to one another on their wedding day. It is the type of love that endures through the storms of life. It is often expected that within marriage we will compromise in order to make the relationship work. For this to be achieved both husband and wife are required to grow in patience and tolerance of each other. Pragma love describes the type of love that surpasses the “in-love” feeling, this type of love is part of the secret to making your love last.

7. “Philautia Love”: also known as Self-Respect, Love of the self

Have you ever wondered how we are taught to love ourselves? In fact were we ever taught this? This type of love does not refer to narcissism but emphasises our ability to find joy whilst being true to ourselves. Love of the self allows us to grow our capacity to love (how big is your love tank?). Realistically, how can we truly love others, if our self love tank is empty. How do you give love out that you are unable to put in? Self- love is about feeling secure in ourselves so that we are able to give freely.

“All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself” – Aristotle

This exploration of the meaning of love reminds us that it is unrealistic to place all our hopes on being loved on one individual commonly known as our “soul mate”. We must abandon this idea of finding the perfect mate who can meet all of our needs, it is too much to expect that from an individual who is naturally flawed. Our ability to feel loved should not be dependent on whether or not we have a partner, it first of all begins within.

Your Boyfriend, Bae, Husband, Children… cannot make you happy!

Are children not meant to feel loved, way before they are even able to comprehend their need for Eros Love? It is time to start introducing all the different types of love into your lives and relinquish the idea that Eros Love is going to solve all of life’s dilemmas. In my opinion, Agape Love should be the foundation of our love tank, as it is the essence of the absoluteness of love.


Photo Credit: Ms Tomilola, I attended the Southbank Festival of Love, 2014. 

2 thoughts on “The Meaning of Love

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