Back in Ancient Greece, it was widely believed that there were 7 different types of love…
Although many things have changed since then, all 7 still apply to modern society.
We may have renamed them slightly, or set different parameters for their definitions, but they stand firm as ways we can experience love in our lives.
Most people recognize this word in some way, even if they’re not familiar with what it really means.
The term ‘Eros’ relates to passionate love, which we know these days as ‘romantic’ and sexual love.
This type of love is also most commonly referenced in terms of ‘big’ love, such as that talked about in Sex and the City and other romantic shows and Hollywood romcoms.
So, where does this idea come from? Well, in Ancient Greek mythology, Eros occurs when someone has been struck by Cupid’s arrow – this causes us to fall in love.
Most of us have heard of something along these lines, and it’s a pretty nice thought!
Relating this back to modern life, many of us are ‘struck’ by someone and fall for them completely. This type of all-consuming love is what we consider to be romantic love and is what is most often portrayed in the media.
This is typically the most sought-after type of love – it’s intense and passionate and we lose ourselves to it completely.
That said, we all deserve to experience at least one ‘big love’ in our lives, so if it feels right, go for it…
This is less of a romantic, intimate love, but it is love nonetheless. ‘Philia’ relates to friendship or fondness, which is what this type of love is about.
This is more the type of love we have for our siblings or good friends – it’s not a romantic type of love at all and is therefore much more long-standing.
Rather than brief bursts of romantic or intimate love, Philia is about a longer-term connection, such as the bond of being family.
This love can be overlooked at times, as so many of us focus on chasing Eros-type of love. We should pay attention to Philia though, as this is the type of love that will really last and keep us grounded and secure throughout our lives.
Rather than focusing on romance or physicality, it relates to the longer-lasting bonds we can create with those who we are truly close to (including our romantic partners). This is a love to be cherished, as it shows signs of friendship, respect, and compassion.
In a similar way to Philia, this type of love is related to families. In particular, it describes the way that parents love their children – that unconditional, unrelenting care and devotion.
This is not a love of dependence in any way, as this love comes from the parent regardless of the child’s behavior. It is about sacrifice and about parents forgiving their children for anything and everything.
Many of us experience this type of love at some point in our lives, whether it’s from our parents or through being parents ourselves.
As parents, this love may not feel as though it’s instant – some people struggle to form a bond with their children early on. Normally, however, it is deeply rooted and there are just other emotions that mask or hide it, subconsciously or otherwise.
The power of this love is so immense that we sometimes struggle to process it, which is why it can sometimes seem as though we’re not experiencing it at all. It’s there, though!
Think of the stories you hear of mothers lifting cars with their bare hands to save their children – there is something so strong and transcendent in Storge that even our bodies can physically understand it at times.
This is more of a conceptual type of love and is something to aim for rather than something we may necessarily be feeling already.
It refers to a state of peace in that we are all-loving and altruistic. This is more of a community-style of love than a one-on-one, intimate love.
It encompasses the ideas of selflessness and working toward the greater good rather than focusing on our individual needs and desires.
While this type of love sounds great and wholesome, it is often seen as aspirational rather than realistic.
Of course, there are many benefits to this type of expression of feelings, in that we benefit hugely as individuals – our self-esteem and self-worth are boosted and we feel good for doing good.
It can be hard to achieve this type of love, and even harder to receive it as a single individual, so it is easiest to work toward in a community.
Agape features in many religions or spiritual groups – it’s about pure compassion and giving part of yourself up to benefit others.
This type of love may seem very sad at first, but it has a place in most our lives at some point. Rather than focusing on grand romantic gestures or unconditional love in the traditional ways, it is a love that is formed from a need to make things work.
For example, a married couple with children may experience this type of love at some point in their relationship. It doesn’t necessarily reflect the feelings that are involved between two people, but is about making things work and sticking to it for the sake of the greater good – e.g. the well-being of the children.
This can work if the people involved are on the same page ethically, and in terms of character traits. While there may not be the huge, fireworks-style love that many people aim for, Pragma can still hold a lot of similar characteristics.
There must be respect for this type of emotion to work as it leaves both people very vulnerable. There is a sadness to this type of love, in that it is mainly for functionality, but it also shows strength in the relationship in some ways and that there is still so much care and empathy between those involved.
One of the most popular types of love in the last few years, self-love is hugely important to many of us.
In general, self-love is seen as a great aspect of modern living – we have the time to look after ourselves in the name of our well-being.
Self-love can refer to anything that helps us grow or stabilize ourselves. This can be taking a day off when we feel we need to reset and unwind; it can be skipping a social event if we sense ourselves becoming overly anxious or upset about it.
The rise in mental health awareness in recent years has led to an enormous increase in ‘self-love’ and ‘self-care’ hashtags across social media!
Of course, there’s another side to this type of love. It can be seen as destructive in some ways – it gives us a false sense of self and we can become ‘big-headed’ or narcissistic.
Ludus refers to a type of love which is far from those we’ve already mentioned. Rather than an unconditional love, it is playful and often fleeting.
There are no commitments involved, just something fun. This type of love can cause a lot of confusion, as it is sometimes seen as something more committed than it is – this is because Ludus can still involve the intimacies and ‘romance’ of a love like Eros (big love) without the commitment.
This type of love is akin to flirting and seduction; to casual relationships and fun rather than anything serious or with long-term intentions.
Of course, this can become more of a long-term love if both parties decide they wish to make it more of an Eros-style partnership.
These 7 types of love may have been categorized years and years ago, but they still hold true today. Most of us will experience many of these loves, in some form, at some point in our lives.
Having an awareness of what they are and how they can affect us puts us in a great position for giving and receiving these types of love.
It may not seem like it now, especially if you’ve had a hard time with love in the past, but it’s out there for everyone. And, remember – the more that you give love, the more you get back.
Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.