Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I know this holiday can be a divisive one, as people usually love it with the power of a heart shaped sun or ride it off as a capitalist scam. I understand both sides, truly. However, I’m one of those people that’ll look for any reason to eat loads of junk food and appreciate all the lovely people and things in my life, so I’m a fan of it myself! I also think it depends a great deal on how you look at it, as many people tend to feel cynical or lonely that they don’t have a romantic partner to spend it with. But alas, there are so so so many different kinds of love in this world other than romantic love that matter just as much, and are equally worth celebrating! There are even fanciful Grecian terms for them, and as my Valentine’s Day gift to you I will run through some of them so hopefully you can be heartened by all the different ways that love permeates your life and the world around us. I love you all, stranger friends!
Eros ~ Sexual, romantic love. The erotic love of passion, lack, and desire.
This type of love is usually the most popular since it’s the one that is talked about and mythologized the most often. How many plays, novels, poems, films, and artworks have explored the concept of romantic love? A whole lot, that’s for sure. And it’s no mystery why, as eros is powerfully seductive and all-encompassing in it’s hold on our tender, passionate hearts. Being sexually attracted to someone and getting all hot and horny and having feelings for them feels good, but they can also hurt and awaken a weird kind of lack within us as well, which makes it all the more addictive.* Not everyone experiences these feelings, or has someone presently in their lives that shares their feelings, and hey that’s okay! If you do, awesome! I respect and honor everyone’s love, and if I happen to see a couple holding hands and giving each other a loving kiss I’m just happy they’re happy. Also I can go, “Yo, that’s eros as hell,” and feel super learned and dope.
Pragma ~ Long-lasting, committal love. The love of a married couple, of longevity, and comfort.
This kind of love is definitely essential to romantic relationships, though it is not as romanticized or discussed as much as eros is cause hey, eros is pretty sexy. But pragma is a type of love that is more practical and resilient, as it sustains a mutually beneficial partnership with both people agreeing to stay committed as long as the other person is willing to do the necessary emotional work. Just looking at the word itself, pragma looks alot like “pragmatic,” right? That’s an easy way to remember this one, as it’s indeed a more grounded, practical kind of love than that of a love based in only desire and passion. Also, who says this only has to apply to couples? Friendships are also based in pragma love as well, with both people making the decision to stay connected through all their ups and downs with mutual support. So if you think about it, pragma is pretty awesome. Pragma = lasting relationships. Yay for longevity!
Philia ~ Friendship love. Platonic love, the love of affection, brother/sisterhood
Speaking of friendships, philia is the official love of friendship in the Grecian language, and it is one of the most important kinds of love there is. Friendship is a bond that is irreplaceable, and can be thicker than blood. Where would any of us be with the strong friendships we’ve cultivated throughout our lives, without that support and understanding and specific kind of empathetic love? You do not have to be in love with someone to desperately love them, and it is important that we acknowledge and express the deep love between us and our friends whenever we can. Our friends are our chosen family, and that is an incredibly humbling honor. Think about it, of all the people your amazing friends could be around and talk to, they chose you and you chose them. Of all the millions of people on this Earth you were the ones to find each other, which is pretty powerful and heart melting. I love you, friends. To those I know and the ones I will come to know, I love you.
Storge ~ Familial love. The love of family, instinctual affection
Family love is a love that is both complicated and naturally intense. We are born, and of those we are born from there is forever an undeniable biological connection that can never be denied. Though I do not believe that you have to love your biological family if they cannot provide a loving support system, those connections will always be there, no matter how hard you try. And as complicated and chemically complex as familial love can be it can also be the most comforting. When I look at my family I see myself and I do not see myself. My sister and I look totally different and have completely different dispositions and yet we have the same nose bump, the same morbidly irreverent humor, the same parents, the same love of Golden Girls. When I’m with my parents I hear my own laugh from my mother and see my same obsession with fast food and classic rock in my father. Though I did not choose them I’m glad they’re mine, and hopefully they are too. (I’m sure they are, I’m fantastically ideal in every way lolol)
Agape ~ Selfless, unconditional love. “God love,” or divine love
Agape is a grandiose kind of love, for it is essentially an eternal kind of love. It’s a love without limits. A love without an end or beginning, it is ever-present and unyielding. That’s probably why the Greco-Christians referred to it as “God love” since the concept of God is usually the only entity that can adequately symbolize such an enigmatic level of unending love. However, many parents would disagree and say that the love that a parent has for a child is similar, and cannot be compared to any other feeling. Other than that though, is there really such a thing as totally selfless love? Don’t most people have some limits, some boundaries to what they are willing to do for another, without any expectations or desire for reciprocity? It seems pretty inconceivable if I’m honest. (Though I do have a pretty unconditional love for ice cream…maybe that’s my agape love source).
Philautia ~ Self love. Pride, love, and appreciation of oneself.
Self love is the most important kind of love there is. We receive love from others first, but the only way to project it out into the world in a true way is if we know what it is to love ourselves. And if we spend all this limited time here in this world without genuinely enjoying and loving ourselves, then what’s the point? That doesn’t mean that you like every single part of you all the time, or you stop trying to grow. It just means that you’re aware enough to appreciate the beautiful parts of you that are both unique and universal, that you acknowledge the infinite paradox of your own self and existence. If this seems hard to accept go and look up what your body is made of, and just see how impossible being alive at all seems when you consider all the alternate possibilities. The world will always try and convince you otherwise, cause it makes you easier to manipulate, but you are worthy. You are enough. You deserve love, and you especially deserve to love yourself. Self love is not arrogance, it’s essential. And it is a love that is every bit as meaningful as other types of love, and love makes the world go round, baby.
I hope you all enjoy your Valentine’s Day doing whatever it is you do to commemorate and celebrate all the different kinds of love in your lives! This of course is not a comprehensive list of all the kinds of love there is in the world (love of pets, places, nature, books, free samples, throwback 90’s sitcoms, etc), but it’s a good place to start if you wanna be overwhelmed with appreciation and lovey-dovey emotions. But no matter what you do, do it with love.
Can you see why I like this holiday, I’m mushy as fuck.
Talk to you later, lovelies! xx.
*This idea of lack in love comes from a book I’m reading called Eros the Bittersweet by Anne Carson. It’s a very interesting book about eros and the reasons why it takes over people in an equally sweet and melancholy way. Check it out if you’re interested in that kind of thing!
Also, the featured image I used for this blog post is a photo by the artist Signe Pierce, she does amazing photography and I’ll link her Instagram here if you want to check out her work! (x)