Just in time for Valentine’s Day, here’s some balm for what ails you, or some more fuel for the fire…
So back when I was sixteen, I asked Greeky-Greek Boyfriend to tell me the word for love in his first-language. He said it wasn’t so simple.
I thought he was dodging the subject, melding fear and love together in the way of some boys and men.
Instead, he explained there were many different Greek words for love.
Now, years after studying the works ancient Greeks like Plato and Aristotle, I understand why Greek Boyfriend couldn’t pin down one single word for love. BECAUSE THERE ARE SEVEN TYPES OF LOVE. In case you weren’t depressed enough this time of year.
But look at it this way, with seven to choose from, maybe you’re more loved than you know.
PHILAUTIA is self-love.
“It’s all about me. I deserve Prada. And this new Lexus. With all the bells and whistles. And hello? I need a vacation. Now.”
“I can’t deal, so I’m getting drunk.”
“I don’t care about your feelings. I only want to numb the pain. Now help me tie up my arm so I can shoot up.”
“Yes, I left my baby in the freezing cold car so I could gamble at the casino. A woman’s got to have her priorities.”
Or, conversely, “I need to take care of myself. I’m too stressed these days. Do you mind taking care of my kids so I can get a couple hours at Walmart by myself?”
LUDUS is hit-and-run love.
This is the territory of the one-night stand or the summer fling.
It’s knowing this spark will never get past the physical and going for it anyway.
If choosing this as a steady course, a standing appointment for STD testing is in order.
And remember, if positive, you may be quarantined to a hospital room where doctors will put you on the pizza and pancake diet. This diet will not make you better. But it is the only thing they can slide under the door to keep you alive.
At that point, take up PHILAUTIA, because self-love is all you’re going to get.
Moving on. PRAGMA is practical love.
Think Bill and Hillary. They make a good couple. But there’s some LUDUS going on with other people. Still, their coupling is mutually advantageous, and so it works.
Or how about Michael Jackson and the “mother” of his children?
I’m going to make a wild guess and say this is likewise an example of PRAGMA. You scratch my back with enough scratch, I’ll give you the fruit of my womb.
And speaking of the fruit of the womb...EROS is sexual and passionate love.
It’s that giddy feeling at the beginning of a new love. The sweaty palms. The delicious anticipation. Hanging on by a thread. And maybe even the need to breed.
Shakespeare said, “Love is merely madness.” Clearly, he was talking about EROS. Thankfully, it is short-lived in the grand scheme of things, or it could kill us all.
It’s heady stuff. And then it’s gone… sometimes thanks to that most excellent of birth control forms: Kiddus Interruptus.
And speaking of kids getting in the way of spontaneously making the beast with two backs…
STORGE is the kind of love between parents and children.
Let’s face it, when children are small, they are all about PHILAUTIA. The world revolves around them. They often behave as little tyrants and need socialization. Loving parents bring them through this self-centered view of the world.
As children grow older, they begin to appreciate the love and sacrifice parents make for them. At this point, STORGE is a mutual form of love. There is dependency, but there is also the willingness to overlook one another’s really bad qualities.
Of course, not everyone is blessed with parents who engender this type of love. In those cases, one can only hope to find…
PHILIA or brotherly love
First thing that comes to me here is Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.
Yeah, last time we were there for a (Grateful) Dead show, we experienced a particularly special form of PHILIA.
We were taking the hotel courtesy shuttle to the Mann Center and one of the passengers, a little old black lady in the front seat, took one look at all the white hippies in back and started yelling, “I hate white people! I hate white people!”
But, not-so-groovy stories aside, PHILIA is true companionship or a lifelong relationship based on mutuality.
This includes true friendship that has proven the test of time.
It also includes the love between couples who have long been married, and enjoy this level of authentic love. There is a shared interest in moving forward both intellectually and spiritually, and a true level of respect in this type of deep and abiding friendship.
And finally, AGAPE, or love of one’s neighbor as oneself.
This is the kind of selfless love we should all aspire to. It asks not what you can score, but instead, “How can I be of service?”
As Jesus said, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12: 30-31.
In times like these when so many seek to foment divisiveness, may we all aspire and grow toward selfless AGAPE.
It’s pretty simple, actually. Here are the basics:
Let it no longer be Greek to us. May we love others seven times seven times over. (Sorry Jim Morrison–two times is just not enough.)
Happy Valentine’s Day and thanks for reading.
Susan J. Anderson
Foxy Writer Chick