ALL the Love There Is

by Michael Corthell

Most people think of love as a romantic, shoot me with an arrow, Cupid-style, crazy in love feeling, but for Ancient Greeks, 'falling in love' was just one of the eight kinds of love.

''I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.'' — Vincent Van Gogh

You might feel like you are missing out on love if you are not hooked up and playing 'kissy face' with someone on a regular basis, because our western culture has an obsession with romantic love, holding it in higher regard than any other relationships or emotions that we might experience. Much of this has to do with promotional advertising's use of sex to sell products. The Ancient Greeks did not feel this way about love, it was a very important, multi-dimensional emotion for them.

Our idea of love is a cultural construct. If you want more love in your life and have a greater appreciation for it, broaden your understanding of this multi-faceted emotion.

Love is an emotional condition in which the 
happiness of another person is vital to your own.

But there is more to unconditional love and to other types of love. For example, we often bewail the love of money, which is actually the worship of money and has at the root of it greed, gluttony and the lust for power. Most of us know that we are to love people, and not things — to use things, not people.

''Eros''/Erotic Love
The first type of love is called Eros, which is named after the Greek god of love and fertility. Eros represents the idea of sexual passion and desire.
The Greeks considered Eros to be somewhat dangerous and scary because it involves a loss of control through the instinct to procreate. Eros is a burning fire that arouses romantic and sexual feelings.

''Philia''/Affectionate Love
The second type of love is philia, or friendship. The ancient Greeks valued philia far above eros because it was considered the love of equality. Plato felt that physical attraction was not an absolute necessity. that's why we use the word platonic, which means, ''without physical attraction.''

''Storge''/Familiar Love
Although storge closely resembles philia in that it is a love without physical attraction, storge is primarily to do with kinship and familiarity. Storge is a natural form of love or affection that flows between parents and their children, and children for their parents. Storge love is also found among childhood friends and can later shared as adults.

''Ludus''/Playful Love
Ludus is a little bit like eros, but it is more than that. The Greeks thought of ludus as a playful form of love, for example, the love and affection of youth. We now call it infatuation. Ludus is that euphoric feeling we have when we go through the early stages of falling in love with someone. 

''Mania''/Obsessive Love
Mania love is a kind of love that leads a partner into a type of madness and obsessiveness. It occurs when there is an imbalance between eros and ludus. This love is a reflection of the person's own poor self-esteem. Jealousy is the hallmark of this type of love.

''Pragma''/Enduring Love
Pragma is a love that has aged like fine wine. It has matured and developed over time. It is beyond the physical, it has gone past the casual, it has a rhythm and harmony. We see pragma in married couples who’ve been together for a long time, or in friendships that have endured for decades. This love is not easily found. This is a deep abiding love that has taken not only time but purposeful work to achieve. It is eternal.

''Philautia''/Self Love
The Greeks understood fully, what we teach now, that to care for others, we must first care for ourselves. This form of self-love is not the unhealthy vanity and self-obsession that is focused on personal fame, gain and fortune as is the case with Narcissism. Philautia is healthy. You cannot share what you do not have. Aristotle said, ''All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.''

''Agape''/Selfless Love
The highest form of love according to the Greeks, Christians and most other religions is agape, or selfless unconditional love. Agape is spiritual love. It is the love of God. It is the love we are to have for Him and all creation (the Universe). This love is not a sentimental outpouring, and it has nothing to do with the conditional love that our sex-obsessed culture tries to pass as love. Agape is a love, bigger than ourselves, an unlimited compassion, or infinite empathy. It is what the Buddhists call it ''mettā'' or ''universal loving kindness.''

Love is why we exist, love is the lesson of life.

The true joy in life is to love and be loved.


LOVE, no matter what

by Andrew Solomon

What is it like to raise a child who's different from you in some fundamental way (like a prodigy, or a differently abled kid, or a criminal)? In this quietly moving talk, writer Andrew Solomon shares what he learned from talking to dozens of parents -- asking them: What's the line between unconditional love and unconditional acceptance?