Is “love” the most subversive word in the English language? Destabilising, moving – one of the greatest powers we have. I think it is a super-power – to love. To connect. To acknowledge and wrap yourself into another – a child, a lover, a partner, a family member, a stranger, a pet, a piece of music. You give a little of yourself up, you get something more back. The rapture that can come from looking squarely at someone else and knowing you love them. It can hurt. It can be frightening. It can lift you to places you had no idea existed – exulting. It comes in many many different guises.
The Greeks hypothesised there were 8 differing types of love – one four letter word was in no way enough to articulate the breadth and depth of what we could have access to… and I for one love that love can be expanded so….
Eros – The Passionate One – full on furious, intense, take-your-breath-away, makes your eyes sparkle, haven’t-slept-in-days, loss-of-control, bit bonkers… and fairly superficial – a lot of projection of perfection, almost bound to not be sustainable unless backed up by at least one of the others…Eros is grand gestures and heightened awareness – it burns bright, but fades fast. Beware young lovers etc.
Ludus – The Playful One – daftness and mooching about – teasing, laughing, flirting – with lovers, with your friends. Youthful, delightful -it is love at its lightest and most joyous (but only if reciprocated)
Philautia – The Self One – this is self-regard, care of self, nurture of self – looking out for oneself. According to the Song it is “The Greatest Love of All” – maybe… but it is, without doubt, one of the most important. If you cannot love yourself, how can you love another with any seriousness or sustainability? Surely you are giving away something you need first? This is love that is deep and true and private – not the narcissism which is a pretend love, thin and unrooted, held in a position or possession of beauty – it’s love based on worthiness: knowing you have worth & operating thus.
Mania – The Obsessive One – the core narrative of many a movie… Manic love is one born from an unhealthy reliance on the “love interest”. This love is headline grabbing, mostly for the wrong reasons– madness, stalking, preoccupation. Fanaticism, fervour and zeal all hang out in this space – this is love without generosity – it’s often about possession or ownership.
Pragma – The Committed One – When Eros leaves the building (it might still come tap dancing back, at times) Pragma begins – the long-term love, based on understanding and harmony – giving, taking, patient and tolerant. Pragma is what lies on the other side of Testing Things – the place and space when you have seen the other’s dark, their muddy, their grubby and you love that anyway.
Storge – The Familial One – Family, Connection, duty, respect, kinship, unconditionally present – oft tested. It may come from dependency or loyalty – Storge is powerful and deep-rooted. It forms us – and family can come in many guises – tribes, friendships, workplaces.
Philia – The Friendship One – Equality, companionship, friendship – lone-term regard. Affectionate, without that whole dizzy attraction thing – it’s deepened by shared experiences and stories.
Agape – the “highest form” – the love we feel when we are elevated to a spiritual level – in nature, through music or dance – the sense of loving kindness- wellbeing to all others – a deep and lasting love.
And as I look at these – there is a venn diagram in there somewhere -and I wonder how many of these I have experienced – how many of these I currently have in my life and if I’m happy with that.
Love is essential and nurturing – hard work and exhausting at times – but it shapes us and makes us who we are. A world without love? I’d hate it.
So I wrote a blog with a list… this is very not-me. I started waxing lyrical about old loves and love and thought – yeh.. this isn’t what I want to say.. that and I’ve had an idea for fiction tomorrow that is nagging me to get written….
I have some love for the Greek 8 – I like the way it allows you to explore some nuance in the feelings and relationship – from full on crazy, to long-term settled… it seems right to me. So loving love and the forms of it.