If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?RuPaul
This is what my mum reminds me of every time I do not feel as undefeatable as I would like to.
What no one speaks about however is how it is as hard to love yourself as it is to love anyone else in this life.
The journey of love is a long one. And additionally, there is society and 7 billion other people that tell you whom to love, how to love, that you are not allowed to love. Love is sin, haram, ungodly.
I want to take you on a journey where love does not have to do with any genitals or gender concepts. I want to show you that great thinkers have tried to dismantle what you do not understand, and I will reassure you that it’s normal that you don’t understand because no one does.
Every religion seems to be convinced to be the ultimate one. Even though all of them have different aspects and things that they contradict each other on, every single one of them has the basis of love that builds the fundament for everything else.
The special love is called Agape. Greek philosophers were so kind to give us some vocabulary to specify the weird things that we feel when we want to bang someone or know that we would catch a bullet for our friends even though that is completely irrational.
The graphic will help but eventually, the logic is that we have 8 different types of love that lets move our everyday lives and the way we think. I will go through every variation so you know why you and your friend will forever stay “just friends” even though he wants more.
1. Agape – Unconditional Love
This is all surrounding love. It all starts with Agape and ends with it as well. This is the kind of love that you feel for the world, the trees, your loved ones or even people that you do not really know. It is said that enlightenment can be found where you can feel ‘Agape’ for everything and everyone. For everyday people, we have it in some aspects of life, but it is not always easy to grasp. We can also call it altruistic and unconditional love.
2. Eros – Romantic Love
This is the sexy kind of love. The fire that you feel between your legs, the dreams of you and that special person kissing together all finds their roots in the passionate and deep desire for physical touch and connection. If a romantic relationship lacks this kind of love in unequal part, meaning one person has more desire than the other, it can be tricky to keep it going. If neither of them feels it, it could be the case of an asexual relationship or maybe you are just friends.
If your friend is relentlessly dming you on Instagram and you constantly keep thinking “he is so kind, but I just don’t feel it”, that “it” is probably Eros.
3. Philia – Affectionate Love
Compassion, trust, a deep bond that you share with your friends. This is a sacred kind of feeling that is the foundation of every good friendship. While Eros can be a short but strong longing for someone, many thinkers say that Philia is important to make even romantic relationships last. Eros can be blinding but Philia makes sure that you love AND like that person equally. This love is also called “platonic” because Plato argued that physical attraction was not a must for a healthy relationship.
4. Philautia – Self-Love
Self-love eventually shows in what way you can love others. Unhealthy relationships often indicate a deep-rooted problem with thyself. Think about yourself: Do you look down on your loved ones and cannot help it? You are probably trying to conceal your lack of self-compassion with a superficial facade of arrogance. Do you seek constant external approval and applause instead of concentrating on your own perception of yourself? I suppose that you lack the ability to complement and support yourself. I could go on with this list, but you get the problem.
If you cannot stand in front of the mirror and say “I love you” that is okay! A statistic shows that about 85 per cent of the population lack self-esteem.
Also: Do not make the mistake of assuming that the extroverted bubbly personalities that you know does not belong to that percentage. The absence of self-love can shine through many filters, an inverted body language, isolation, as well as through fake confidence and artificial smiles. Be smart, look beyond.
5. Storge – Familiar Love
I will just assume that you love your family. Even people with toxic parents and relatives love them most of the time and hate the fact that they love them.
The kind of bond that you share with kin and people that are part of your family is special and deserves a category of its own.
I would do many things for both my mum and my dad in the blink of an eye, I do not know about you.
Storge is also the kind of love where you have the least control over. Early on your parents choose to teach you what love looks like. If you have been brought up with an unhealthy picture of affection it can be hard to let go of that expectation.
6. Pragma – Enduring Love
Pragma is the stage that you reach after a longer period of Eros. The bonfire of Eros simmers down to a comfortable mature warmth that (hopefully) lasts for longer.
This kind of love takes time and effort. Nowadays many couples do not reach that point because they break up beforehand. However, sometimes relationships age like a good wine and you can taste the scent of victory after proving stamina, endurance and loyalty.
7. Ludus – Playful Love
Ever had a crush?
I know those butterflies can make you feel high sometimes. That feeling of thinking about a person repeatedly. “Do they think about me the same way?” All of this can be summarised in the love of Ludus. Science has shown that it can be compared to the effect of cocaine in the brain. Like Eros, it either does not last too long or develops into another type of love over time.
8. Mania – Obsessive Love
Sadly, I cannot interview Shakespeare anymore to be sure, but I would say Romeo and Juliet were a little bonkers. What do you think?
Mania can be an uncomfortable development of too much Ludus and Eros and can be destructive and dangerous. These people often have a lack of self-esteem and self-worth. If you are that person or if you know someone like that, again, is totally fine. Surround yourself with people who keep you grounded and give you a portion of hard love when you need it. Hard-philia if I might say so. See what I did there?
This was long, and I bet you skim read most of it. Understandable.
All of it boils down to some key points though.
Firstly, Agape is the root of all these types of love. If you learn to love, through pain, envy, suffering, hate, you will learn to smile through it. Someone who has loved before can love again.
Secondly, there is a difference between loving and liking someone. Deducing which one is more dominant in a relationship can be crucial in analysing how healthy it is. Stay safe, gather people that you like, trust and feel genuine compassion for.
Thirdly, Love is Love. You have to know the rules, to be able to break them. I taught you all this vocabulary to tell you: If you feel something? Great! Roll with it! Try to understand what it is, what you want to do next and how it can make you happier.
If you love and fall, get up and love again. You are alive to feel alive. Treasure it.
Do not let anyone ever tell you whom you can love and whom not. Love haters for the lessons that they teach you. Love them for the hate they carry within them because they sadly cannot love themselves.