Love Styles Explained
The Greeks are famous for bringing western democracy and philosophy to the rest of the world. They were classical thinkers and epic warriors. Greeks also had a highly sophisticated understanding of love.
For ancient Greeks, love wasn’t just a four-letter word. In fact, there are at least seven different Greek words for love and each one carries a slightly different meaning. Modern culture often views love through a one-dimensional prism of perception and awareness. Yet, you might benefit from rediscovering the ways in which ancient Greeks defined the various aspects of love.
What follows are 7 love styles, almost entirely based on the work of the late psychologist John Lee, author of the book: The Colors of Love, published in 1973. As you look at the different approaches to love, which best describes you?
Eros was the Greek god of love. His modern manifestation is Cupid. So, you can see the relationship there with Valentine’s Day and the act of falling in love. Eros in the philosophical sense represents sexual desire and passion.
Eros is also referred to as “hot love” because it is the type of love that radiates during a new romance and it is easily recognized. Eros is the root term of the word “erotic”. Eros is deeply rooted in physical arousal and immediate sexual attraction to other people or objects.
This type of love revolves around the devotion of familial bonds. The term “Philostorgos” means “to be devoted”. The term “astorgos” means that someone is devoid or incapable of love. Storge love is most commonly viewed as the love that is shared between a parent and their offspring. It’s also the love that is felt between long-term partners.
Storge, or storgos does not carry a sexual connotation. It’s not commonly used to refer to romantic relationships at all. Simply stated, storge is love for the family. You can have storge love for brothers, sisters, cousins, and anyone else that is considered to be part of your family.
Ludus has its roots in both Latin and Greek languages. It is the fun, carefree type of love. Ludus is love that exists without judgement or any deep meaning. Ludus is playful. Ludus is universal. It is expressed by both children and adults alike.
Ludus is often viewed as a substitute for eros love. Both deal with our physical enjoyment and passion for life itself. You feel ludus when you have a crush on someone, or you engage in harmless flirting with coworkers. Dancing, horseplaying with friends, or giving someone a massage can all be seen as expressions of ludus, the playful love.
Pragma is one of the most difficult forms of love. It is the romantic love that stands the test of time. Pragma is sometimes referred to as “cool love” meaning that it has transcended the hot, passionate phase of eros love.
Pragma is experienced by romantic partners who are mature, patient, and forgiving. It is expressed in the form of longstanding commitments, as a marriage or civil partnerships. Pragma most certainly comes from the heart, but it benefits from all other forms of love, as well. Pragma is the culmination of these 7 different forms of love.
This is a general form of love that is expressed to everyone around you. Agape love can also be interpreted as goodwill. Agape love puts others ahead of the self. For people who have a religious background, agape love is the love that God expresses to all of humanity and it’s the self-sacrificing love of the Christ figure.
Agape love is a type of emotion that radiates from the mind and the spirit. It’s not dependent on what others do in return and it doesn’t have the immediate payoff of eros or erotic love. Agape is the love of the esthetics and people who appreciate the beautiful nature of all things.
This is a form of love that most people should be aware of. After all, “philosophy” is the love of wisdom and “philanthropy” is the love for your fellow man. Philia love relates to non-erotic passion. Whereas eros and ludus can be expressed through our libido, philia is expressed solely from the heart.
It is the deep love and loyalty that we have for friends and others. It is our sense of compassion. Philia doesn’t have to just be directed towards people. Philia is also a way to interpret our deep love for ideas, concepts, and institutions.
This is one of the most complicated forms of love. In its simplest explanation, philautia is the love we have for ourselves. People who lean in the direction of philautia love are natural introverts and feel at peace in their own company.
Yet, there is a positive and a negative expression of philautia. When expressed negatively, a person might become narcissistic, conceited, or self-absorbed. When expressed in a positive manner, philautia takes the form of self-care, high self-esteem, and empathy.
Lessons in Love from Ancient Greeks
In modern society, we use the word love in limited abstractions. There’s romantic love, the love for ourselves and love for others. However, the ancient Greeks were well aware of the complicated nature of love. By gaining a more complete understanding of the range and depths of love, we better understand ourselves.
Most people experience all these types of love at the same time. The energy is just directed toward different people and different situations. Sometimes, we misfire and engage in the wrong type of love or direct that energy at the wrong type of person.
It’s important to note though that one type of love doesn’t supersede the others. If it did, then that would almost certainly result in a misalignment of a person’s emotions. Even if you only felt agape love, then you would be limiting your capacity to experience the deeply rewarding aspects of the other expressions. So, explore these different types of love in your own life and maybe you will find ways to expand your capacity for our greatest emotion.
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