We all crave oooooey-goooey romantic love! From early on in fairy tales and childhood movies, we are inundated with the happily ever after. In school we might feel on the outside if we haven’t paired up with someone. I remember telling my dad that he didn’t understand when he told me to be friends with all of the boys and not pair up as I was too young for that.
As I reflected on my anniversary, 6 years now single after the death of my husband, I thought of all of the people I know who had broken marriages. I recognize how fortunate we were to have a good relationship. I will tell you we WORKED at it the entire time up until my husband became terminally ill. We did workbooks, workshops, sought wise counsel, read, talked, and were very intentional about our commitment to one another. This reflection caused me to realize that people plan their vacations or vocation better than they plan their relationships. Growing together needs to be intentional. Today no one is educated to the nuts and bolts of a healthy love. But there is a plethora of information to help us stand the test of time.
Let’s talk about LOVE itself. Many people crave that romantic love. They think it is all about the thrill and excitement. What they don’t realize is that is a biochemical reaction to further your bloodline! It will wax and wane in a relationship. It takes understanding and a combination of other types of love to grow and develop as a couple who desires commitment.
The seven kinds of love are as follows:
• Eros – passion or sexual infatuation – the “Let’s see if we have chemistry” line….
• Philia – friendship, deep companionship
• Storge – filial love (family/children)
• Agape – universal, Divine love, best imagined as the love that Christians are supposed to have for their God, the world, and all other humans. The Amish believe that Agape is one of the most important values in life. This is the love that leads to giving, sharing, helping, turning the other cheek, and living by the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, at its best.
• Ludus – a sort of casual, short-term, less intense Eros. It’s more playful and light, not committed. May stay at flirtatious level.
• Pragma – practical love, of the sort that can be found in, for instance, arranged marriages, or relationship for practicality.
• Philautia – self -love/self-esteem, which may be egocentric and unhealthy leading to a false inflated sense of being. Loving yourself and being grateful for the gift of your life is different from being selfish to the point your entire being revolves around you and your needs, desires, and wants.
One of the biggest misconceptions that people believe is that Eros love will be everlasting or it’s not love. This often leads to the termination of relationships prematurely and to cheating for that thrill of the Eros chemicals. Healthy people have an understanding of biochemistry and the short term nature of Eros. It is impossible to have a sustained Eros love for healthy people, let alone those with mental health challenges. Eros is NEVER permanent, never the solid foundation of a long term relationship. It is the magnet that brings people together until the glue of Philia fills in the gaps and begins to cement the relationship together.
The excitement of Eros will wax and wane, but the philia only grows for those who understand how to develop that mutual respect and care. Now attraction does not disappear. Those initial butterflies just begin to come and go as deeper feelings develop and needs are met.
While a relationship may begin with Eros, a committed, romantic partnership, Philia must swiftly follow so when Eros decreases so the relationship stands the test of time. Over long periods of time Storge develops and the connection becomes so intimate it is family. Often this includes children. Sometimes it doesn’t
An intricate blending of Eros, Philia, and storge and even pragma to deal with the practicalities of life and daily living forms the best commitments. Are there guarantees? No. However, having this understanding helps give the best chances to long term, healthy commitments. Don’t forget the basis of all of this is to have a general philautia, respect and care for yourself that comes from gratefulness for your journey on this planet. Two healthy people with philautia, expressing through Agape, blending Eros with and growing into Philia and Storge completes the picture.
Isn’t it fun, and a thrill to be able to experience them all in a lifetime. Love of the spirit, mind, and body that encompasses our whole being.
Don’t be afraid! Don’t think this is all about pain and suffering if you haven’t had these levels of love. Fear isn’t the opposite of love, it is just the absence of it. Welcome love into your life and fear fades away. Love is a gift in this life. For me, it ended in death. Guess what?! I welcome it in all over again.
I love you!