The Ancient Greeks Had 6 Words For Love- Which Are You Experiencing?
Love is something that is hard to be conceptualised with a simple word. It is such a broad spectrum of feeling- ranging from the fiery to the euphoric, and from the euphoric to the deepest depths of sadness. You can have happy love, sad love, empowering love and destructive love- all with many variables in between. Yet we have summed it up the most complex and overpowering of human emotions into the confines of the singular word love!
The Ancient Greeks achieved a lot in their time- constructing many languages, dialects and physical structures of momentous beauty. But they also knew a thing or 2 about love and had 6 different words they used to express the different types of love.
Philia is a deep type of love that values friendship over the more fiery aspects of love. Philia is related to the deep type of relationship you would develop on the battlefield, showing loyalty to your friends and sacrificing yourself for their interests. This would also be expressed in your ability to share your emotions with them.
Eros, is named after the Greek god of fertility, and is the fiery, sexual and passionate type of love. This would be the acting out of your desires, but can also become an unhealthy (and exhausting) type of love if it turns to addiction. Eros was actually viewed as a dangerous and irrational type of love by the greeks, as it has the ability to take hold of you and possess your soul.
This type of love is worshiped in many modern societies today, and while it is quite normal at the beginning of a relationship- it can lead to complications later on.
Ludus is playful and affectionate in it nature- the childlike qualities you often see in young lovers or children who have fallen in love. Ludus is the friendship phase when we banter and joke with each other, after the fire of eros, it is the forming of friendship that follows.
Ludus can also be expressed with strangers through dance and playful jokes, but it is ultimately an important stage of long term relationships once the real lustful stage starts to wain.
Pragma is a mature love that comes with age. This is the deep understanding 2 people have when they have spent a real extended period of time with each other. Pragma is the result of all types of love survived and then moving forward to a new era of love. It is about compromise, patience and tolerance on both sides. Once you get to this stage you know each other on a level deeper than anyone else.
Self love is the key to all other types of love successfully executed and this is what philautia represents. There are actually 2 types of self love- the first is a narcissistic and unhealthy obsession with the self, the other is more of a self maintenance. No matter how well intentioned you are, it is impossible to tip from an empty cup and healthy philautia allows you to maintain that full cup.
Self love and self empowerment go hand in hand- as if you love yourself, you will not do anything that takes away your freedom and empowerment.
Agape is unconditional selfless love. It is soft, gentle and extends to all life. Agape was later translated to the Latin word caritas, which is the word “charity” derived from.
This plays into the fact that there is no separation and healthy self love (philautia) and unconditional love (Agape) are kind of the same thing and support each other. You can’t love unconditionally without first loving yourself and if you love yourself without the consideration of others it is a unhealthy expression of self love.
All of these types of love complement each other and serve their purpose, but the ultimate love starts with ourselves. Let us know what types of love you have experienced most intensely by leaving us a comment!
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I am Luke Miller the author of this article, and creator of Potential For Change. I like to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life.Grab a copy of my free 33 Page Illustrated eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control Here