7 Types of Love. The Actual Definitions.

There is much more to it than romance or familiarity.

Writing about love seems silly. It’s such a vital part of everyone’s life. Craving for love, feeling in love, rejecting someone’s love, accepting it, giving, there are so many things in our lives that revolve around love, yet do we think about it?

I was sure I was thinking about it. I’m 29, had a couple of boyfriends, dated, had an evolving relationship with both of my parents. I was considering many things about love. Do I take too much? Do I give too much? Did I hurt someone’s feelings? How it affected my relations etc.

Through this whole time I never once tried to understand what love really was in a way of reading an actual definition. It was a state I was either feeling or not. I didn’t even imagine one can grasp it into an intellectual list, but to my surprise, humans have actually done it and they did it in ancient times!

That’s how they classified it:

1. Eros: Love of the body

I am sure we’ve all been there. You meet someone, you feel your palms are sweating and desire to be close with that person is overwhelming. You can’t think of anyone else. You can’t think of anything else. You NEED to be with that person. The Eros’ arrow hit you right in your heart.

You feel like you can’t live without them... until you can. Eros is known to be intensive, but short-lived, as it is centered around the selfish aspects of love. Given enough time, Eros can mutate into Storge (more info below).

Fun fact: The term “erotica” came from Eros love.

2. Ludus: Playful Love

Ludus is all about flirting and having fun. It’s when you smile to yourself when getting an ambiguous text. It’s not a desire, it’s joy. It’s teasing someone and creating child-like games that make you want to hang out and play.

Playfulness is an important ingredient of love that is often lost in long-term relationships. Theoretically, keeping a Ludus love burning makes your love interesting and exciting. I never really considered this type of feeling to be love, so it is a little weird for me to think of my past now and try to analyze it, but I guess ancient Greeks knew their loves, right?

3. Storge: Familiar Love

Storge is the fondness born out of familiarity or dependency. It doesn’t depend on our personal qualities and can be imbalanced. Think of the love parents naturally feel for their children. It’s based on natural feelings and effortless love, but it can also be present in one-sided relationships. Where one person sacrifices themselves for the other.

Storge is the love that knows forgiveness, acceptance and sacrifice. Storge makes you feel secure, comfortable and safe.

4. Pragma: Longstanding love

The everlasting love between a couple which evolves over a long period of time. Sexual attraction becomes less important than personal qualities, shared goals, and making it work. Though you have to admit it’s not a very romantic vision.

When you see sweet old couples, holding hands on the street. You can see that they have been through so much, yet they have always chosen each other. That’s Pragma.

Unlike the other types of love, Pragma is the result of effort on both sides. Two people who have learned to make compromises, have demonstrated tolerance and patience to make the relationship work.

5. Philia: Love of the mind

Plato, a famous Greek philosopher, always argued that physical attraction wasn’t necessary for love. Hence, Philia is often referred to as “platonic” love — love without sexual acts.

It’s the kind of love you have for your brother or a good friend. Philia exists when people share the same values and dispositions with someone and the feelings are reciprocated. It’s a love between equals.

6. Philautia: Love of the self

Philautia is necessary for any relationship. It is based on a belief that you can’t share what you do not have. You can only love another person if you truly love yourself and you can only care for another person if you deeply care for yourself.

Philautia is self-love in its healthiest form. It’s about accepting yourself and have compassion toward yourself. Shut down that inner critic and embrace who you are.

But it can obviously drift in the wrong direction. It can become narcissistic and ego-centric which will not only support your relationships, but can hurt others. Selfish Philautia takes and does not give back. Think of someone who uses others to excel in life, that’s Philautia gone bad.

7. Agape: Selfless Love

Agape might be called spiritual or universal love. It is the purest form of love that is free from desires and expectations. In Christianity, it is believed that God and Jesus exhibit this kind of love to all the people.

It’s the ideal love, that you get regardless of who you are and how you act — unconditional and selfless.

It is hard for me to grasp whether a human is capable of loving unconditionally. Imagine that someone hurts you, repeatedly and doesn’t care about your feelings. Is it possible to still love them? Would you even want to still love them? Is it possible to love strangers? I don’t know. If it’s possible I don’t think I am there yet.

So… what is best?

My favorite answer seems perfect here — It depends. It depends on your values and what are you looking for.

Philautia in a healthy edition is necessary and I believe it’s something every person should work to have. Love and respect towards the self.

Generally, Greeks were afraid of Eros. They considered it to be dangerous and frightening and I get that. You are losing control over yourself and might do some damage both to your feelings but also to another person. I have fallen for Eros once, head over heels and it didn’t end well.

Obviously, what starts as Eros or Ludus doesn’t have to end early. Many relationships evolve from this “beginner” type of love and end up as various combinations of Storge and Pragma.

The idea of Pragma in a romantic relationship is more appealing to me as it is based on a partnership and that’s what I personally believe matters most. Ancient Greeks supposedly believed Pragma to be the highest form of love, which is surprising considering…

Agape. “The Greeks thought it was quite radical, perhaps because so few people seem capable of feeling it long-term.” I don’t. It seems highly unrealistic for a human to be able to do it.

And last but not least — the Philia. Platonic love of friends. A beautiful thing and I feel very lucky to have that in my life. Greeks used to value Philia far above Eros because it was love between equals.

And what about you?

What type of love are you aiming for?

To write this piece I used different sources:

Psychology Today, LifeHack, Loner Wolf, Thought Catalog