Consider the word “love” and the many contexts for which we use it: You can love your mom for always protecting you and being on your side. You can love your best friend for laughing with you and being the first to answer your texts. You can also love your romantic partner in a far more intense, intimate, and passionate way than your other relationships. There is nothing truer in this world than the love of an animal; there unconditional love for human affection is all they ask for. Love is a special and complicated emotion which is quite difficult to understand.
Though all of these forms of love are driven by affection and attachment, they’re all distinct. And while we may be catching up just now, the ancient Greeks seemed to understand the concept well—in fact Greek words for love abound. There are eight words in the language that describe love in all its nuanced forms, rather than just applying one word to several contexts.
Below, learn about all the Greek words for love. With any luck, you’ll be able to experience each form in your lifetime—if you haven’t already.
The many forms of LOVE
- Storge – Familiar love.
- Philia – Friendship – Affectionate love.
- Eros – romantic love.
- Agape – Charity- unconditional “God” love.
- Philautia — Self-love
- Pragma — Enduring Love
- Ludus — Playful Love
- Mania — Obsessive Love
Storge The special bond of kinship we feel with our family is known as storge. It’s the organic form of affection parents feel for their children and vice versa. It’s also used to describe the sense of kinship childhood friends experience when they come back together as adults and reminisce.
This is the love we experience with our friends, an affectionate love without physical attraction. It’s the loyalty and appreciation we feel for each other because of what we’ve experienced together. Aristotle called it “dispassionate, virtuous love” because it was free from the entanglements of sexual passion. Plato believed physical attraction was not a necessary part of love, which is where the word platonic arises from that means “without physical attraction”. This is the love we feel for teammates and where our desire to sacrifice for our clan or group comes from.
this kind of love is governed by sexual passion and desire. As tantalizing as it is, ancient Greeks understood the nature of eros as a fire that burns out quickly, and that sustaining it over time required coupling it with another kind of love.
The highest form of love and spiritual in nature, agape is described as unconditional selfless love. This is the all-encompassing love we feel when we contemplate spiritual things or meditate. This is the love that is independent of changing conditions or expectations and is steeped in forgiveness and working toward higher principles and the greater good.
Philautia To care for others properly, we have to know how to care for ourselves first. The Greeks understood this, which is why they called self-love, philautia. Aristotle knew the relationship to oneself was the core of all other relationships when he said, “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.” Another way to look at self-love is by thinking about it as self-compassion. Just as you might show affection and love to another person, you must also show that same affection and love to yourself.
Pragma Symbolized by aged love or love that has matured over time, pragma transcends the physical. It’s the kind of love experienced by spouses who have been married for many decades where so much no longer needs said because it’s simply understood by both parties, as they really have become part of each other. It’s the sense of feeling comfort, protection and peace in the other’s presence without doing anything specific or even speaking.
This type of love doesn’t require a lot of effort in a relationship. Both people are good at making compromises, and each of them puts in equal efforts to make the other person happy.
Ludus While it contains some eros, ludus is the playful, teasing kind of love usually experienced between young lovers. Ludus is often accompanied by the traditional sensations of a fluttering heart and sense of euphoria.
Mania Mania is not necessarily a good type of love, because it is obsessive. It’s the type of love that can lead someone into madness, jealousy, or even anger. That is because the balance between eros (sexual) and ludus (playful) is terribly off. Many people who experience this type of love suffer from low self-esteem. They fear losing the object of their love, and this fear compels them to say or do some “crazy” things in order to keep them. If not kept under control, mania can be very destructive in some cases.
The problems we have in relationships sometimes simply come from not understanding each other fully, especially in the area of love.
Now that you know the ancient Greek types of love hopefully you can take a good, hard, long look at your own relationships and make the necessary improvements.
Love is in the air and now you know the perfect ways to express it. We hope that sharing affection brings you love in return!
Interesting Read The Four Loves is a book by C. S. Lewis which explores the nature of love from a Christian and philosophical perspective through thought experiments. The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate is a 1992 book by Gary Chapman. https://www.5lovelanguages.com/5-love-languages/