Love is love, right? When we speak of it, it is assumed that we all have an agreed-upon definition of what it is. But much like the color blue, how do you know if the color blue you see is the same color that I see? Love can come in many different forms, and we need it in those many forms to make life complete.
“There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald
So, although we often talk about love in terms of the idealized version, there are many ways that we benefit from loving those around us in various ways. And if we reject the many other ways that we can be loved, we might be missing the best and most healthy parts of what love means.
Many people fear that if they don’t feel the way that romantic love is supposed to feel, then they are not “in love” anymore. But when we preoccupy ourselves by seeing love with only one definition, then we might negate the best types of it, which are more readily available, stable, and beneficial to be self-fulfilled. Seven different types of love are all equally important for mental well being.
Philosophers over the ages have debated the various types of ways that people can both experience and express love. Although there have been seven different types identified, love typically has no beginning and endpoint.
Instead, it is a continuum where it flows from one feeling or emotion to the next. The various types of love in the Bible have been theorized, questioned, debated about since the beginning of time.
1. Eros: Passionate and Physical love
Eros is the love that is related to intense passion. It is a ravenous type of love that brings about sudden overcoming madness, like Cupid’s arrow of Greek mythology.
Eros love is the type of love that leads to things that might or might not be healthy. Almost like a drug, eros takes over our reason and our rational side and guides our decision-making process. Eros is blind and feels involuntary, and so are the actions we will do for it.
2. Philia: Endearing and affectionate love
Philia is a type of affectionate love that you feel for the people who are closest to you, like friends, family members, siblings, and parents. It involves having companionship and a sense of loyalty.
Philia is also a love shared among people who have similar life experiences and values that guide them through life. It is no less intense and helpful to someone’s psychological well being than eros. In fact, some would argue that philia is a higher type of love because it is more stable and infinite.
3. Storge: The Love of a Child
Storge is the type of love that a parent shares with their children. It is an unconditional love that provides acceptance, approval, and sacrifice, no matter what it has to endure.
Storge is what helps a child develop a sense of security and attachment to others. And it provides a child the confidence to go out into the world as a well-adjusted adult.
4. Agape: Altruism or Selfless Love
Agape is a universal selfless love. It is the type of love that is guided by a desire to be close to nature, your fellow human beings, and a higher power. Agape is a love that can be expressed through intuition, spirituality, nature, and meditation.
And it is a type of love that is interchangeable with care and charity for others. Agape is when someone behaves altruistically and is guided by things outside of what you can see and feel.
5. Ludus: Flirtatious and Playful Love
Ludus is a flirtation, sex, and seduction without a commitment. The entire point of Ludus is not based on attraction or feelings, instead, on the experience of love itself.
Ludus is the type of love that is often felt in the beginning stages of a relationship. And it involves things like excitement, teasing, and playfulness.
6. Pragma: Eternal Love
You can see Pragma in couples who have shared their lives, through good and bad. It is a type of love that continues to change and evolve, but it always remains in balance.
Pragma requires continual nurturing and maintenance for it to survive. But once achieved, it is like a flawless ebb and flows that two people share together.
7. Philautia: Love of Oneself
The phrase you have to love yourself before you love anyone else is the meaning of Philautia. It is a type of self-love that leads to a sense of self-worth and confidence. It can be healthy, making us love ourselves to love others. Or, it can be unhealthy and linked to narcissism and arrogance.
Are There Only 3 Types of Love in Romance?
One of the most significant parts of being in a stable relationship is overcoming preconceived notions about what love should look like, or how it “should” feel.
We have been inundated through pop culture, fairytales handed down through the test of time, and other images about love being only one way, romantic. Usually, we enter into a relationship, and the first experience that we have is eros or physical love.
It is that feeling of not ever getting enough of someone. We feel like everything revolves around the other person. When we leave their side, we want them right back. And nothing, even if it is slightly irritating, is enough to stop the love that jumps from our hearts.
Eros is the “lust” phase of a relationship that is marked by a physical and sensual need to be near one another. It is a time where you can’t get enough of touching, holding hands, flirting, and just being near.
These are 3 types of love associated with romantic love.
Philia or Friend Stage
Over time, it is all but impossible for all of the feelings of eros to continue. It isn’t that you don’t find one another attractive, it is just that the newness and the “can’t get enough” feelings begin to give way to a more relaxed and comfortable friendship. It is a transition that allows you to reveal more of who you are.
When moving from eros to the philia stage of a romantic relationship, you might lose some of the passion. But in its place, there is the beginning of a friendship where you show your cards, and they show theirs. Philia creates an atmosphere were you can be you, and they can be them. There isn’t fear of being left, discovered, or judged.
Sometimes Eros Gives a Little to Find Philia in Romantic Relationships
You have made a deep enough bond to know that you are two souls united. And that you share a bond that is much thicker than just physical. We have been conditioned to believe that true love has to be centered toward eros love, the romantic, and the fantasy.
So when our sensual feelings begin to give way, it is common to believe we have fallen out of love. Many long for that rush or sensation that they used to get from the person they are with.
And falsely, they see the relationship in lesser terms as if they have lost something that means the relationship is over. Or, they move along to other relationships searching for the eros phase, only to find that it will fade again.
So those who only recognize the eros stage of love will have a succession of started relationships, whereby, once the relationship naturally begins to change into something more permanent and stable, will move along.
Pragma or an Eternal Love
We have all seen that old couple, walking down the street, hand in hand. They walk in unison, and they seemingly talk in unison. What they have found is what most of us dream of, but might not have the patience to hold out for. Pragma is a rare type of love that stands the test of time and can weather any storm.
Pragma love is similar to two people melding into one; their purpose revolves around one another, leaning on and supporting anything that comes their way. In Pragma, a couple has withstood the eros phase, the philia phase, and really anything that has come their way and made it out the other end like a tie that can’t be broken.
Pragma Involves Unconditional Love
It is that type of love that is unconditional in the same sense as Storge, but it doesn’t require any familiar lineage or obligation. Those who reach Pragma love find unconditional love because they have ultimate trust, friendship, concern, and their souls are bonded forever.
There is a reason why many couples who live together for fifty-plus years follow one another in death. Their existence is joined so eternally, that once one is gone, the other loses the meaning they once had to carry on.
Throughout the centuries, philosophers have sought to identify and classify the many different types of love. Greek philosophy believed in the seven types of love, each necessary for the health and well being of the human psyche.
And within romantic love, many scientists have isolated three different stages of love. Often because we are so conditioned to believe that love should be only one way, and if it isn’t, or if it changes, it is no longer alive, we can spend a lifetime chasing a unicorn that doesn’t exist.
We Experience Many Different Types of Love, Romantic and Otherwise
Love comes from all around you, your romantic partner, your mother, your child, even strangers, and all of those types of love are equally important. And they are also essential for mental wellbeing.
The key is to accept love in whatever form it presents itself and to see the positive of it instead of what you think might be missing. If you only accept one definition of love, you are missing out on the best relationships you can have in life.
If you are struggling to try to figure out your love relationships, sometimes talking with a professional can help to sort through all the complexities of the many types of love. Contact a professional, perhaps you can discover all the many ways you are loved and what you are missing out on by not seeing it.