The modern conception of love is broad, multifaceted and complex, but strangely contained to one word. Is the love you feel for your parents the same kind you feel for your friends or your partner? Definitely not. Why then would these varied feelings be constricted to a single four letter word? The ancient Greeks rejected that notion, and instead had four words for relational love; Agape, Phileo, Storge, and Eros.
Agape is a spiritual type of love, often seen in reference to the love someone has for god and their god has for them. In a more worldly sense, it can be the love one has for mankind, a joy of living and being on this earth with fellow people. It is selfless, giving, unconditional and largely seen as the most noble kind of love in the Greek canon. It is displayed by sacrifice, action and choice. You can show Agape by volunteering, donating or having a positive outlook on your fellow people. While this love may be large enough to encompass all of humanity, it also guarantees that you can find a Valentine no matter your love life.
This love is the warm, gentle love of knowing another person wholly and fully. It can come later in a relationship after the heat has died down, or can come in platonic friendship or close familial relationships. To feel Phileo for someone, you must try and truly understand them, and see them as your companion and
equal. Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, is named for Phileo. This kind of love can be shown in selfless acts for friends, family and partners. Go to the doctor with a loved one, make a friend dinner or just really listen when someone speaks to you. Phileo is intimate, kind, and fills life with tenderness.
Storge is a hard-wired unconditional love, often portrayed as between parents and children or other family members. While being similar to Phileo, Storge will often withstand circumstances in ways that Phileo cannot. Parents can forgive their children for things that most times would not be forgivable in friendships or romantic relationships. Storge is a surprising love that can connect those who may otherwise not come to an understanding. It can also grow and shift into a deeper connection. Without Storge our society would fail. Thank those in your life who care for you unconditionally this Valentine’s Day, and try not to test the unconditional nature of their love too much.
Eros is most similar to our modern conception of romantic love. It is passionate, erotic, all-consuming and addicting. Eros is the kind of love that made Romeo and Juliet become the most famous teenagers ever to exist. The beginning of a relationship is the most common time people will feel the highs and lows of Eros. While it can be enchanting and invigorating, Eros does not last forever. Show your partner love this Valentine’s Day with a romantic gesture, an alluring dinner or classic teddy bear and chocolate. Have fun with the lovey-dovey stage if you are experiencing Eros but be careful this Valentine’s Day-it’s a dangerous game.