“What is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more……” If you’re familiar with this lyric piece, chances are either you think of it as a meme or a relatable question. After all, love is indeed a mystery in life that doesn’t clearly show its meaning or purpose. Even the most intelligent humans on Earth don’t have the definite answer that can fulfill your curiosity. And with so many different interpretations scattered around, finding out the meaning of love is just getting harder and harder.
That is why people from different eras and countries have been discussing this particular topic. The Greeks, in particular, have managed to compile the meaning of love through different interpretations. Split into seven types, they are collected from various classic Greek readings by famous authors such as Aristotle and Plato. And now, it’s time you discover the answer to “What is love?” right here, through these 7 types.
To modern society, the answer to “what is love?” tends to waver toward this type of love. In Greek, eros is what people call erotic love that is blinding, almost as if you’re struck by Cupid’s arrow. Said arrow spices your feeling with the desires of romance, emotional and physical love, thus connecting your love with someone else through ‘chemistry.’ As it defies all sorts of reasonings, also known as logos, you’re prone to fall in love at first sight too.
Philia is interpreted differently by Aristotle and Plato. To Aristotle, philia is the form of love shaped by the good nature of humanity. This means that your love for someone is based around your crush’s or spouse’s pleasantness, usefulness, and virtue. But to Plato, philia is the aftermath of eros, as two people begin to develop philosophical desire after having erotic love. Each person has the role of a therapist for the others, and both find philia as the mutual love of having each other.
What is love to storge? Familial love is the answer, born from the desire to commit to each other for a lifetime. Dependency and familiarity are the traits of storge, a little bit different from eros and philia who rely on romantic affection. This is because storge may come from family members, friends, or even couples who have broken up. Regardless, sexual desires and romantic love may persist if both sides are willing to commit.
Altruism, universal happiness from human beings toward each other and other beings, is what forms agape. Which means, the meaning of love is having the feeling of happiness from basically anything, ranging from God, nature, or another person. As for the latter, the feeling of love is the purest one, as each person believes that love is unconditional. Both sides will be loyal, patient, understanding, and prepared to sacrifice themselves for each other.
What is love if it’s just a game for having fun? The answer is ludus, a feeling of love that stems from wanting to have fun with each other. A relationship is like a game, in which both sides love to find amusement through teasing, outdoor or indoor activities, and having sex. Because of its laid-back nature, couples who have ludus don’t think too much about commitment and can have polyandry and polygamy romance.
Couples who think the meaning of love is practicality have the mindset of pragma. In this form of love, compatibility, personal traits, and long-term goals precede romance and sexual desires. This is why pragma is like asking the question, “What is love if it’s more like a business deal?” As such, pragma is commonly found in arranged marriages or relationships between high-profile peoples such as celebrity and political figures.
What is love for yourself? That is philautia, the feeling of affection toward yourself over anyone else. While that seems negative in a relationship, some believe that loving oneself is important before loving another person. By loving yourself, you can gain self-esteem and avoid depression. But on the other hand, philautia can also bring arrogancy and pride, which can be destructive as it promotes conflict, hatred, and injustice.
So then, what is love? And what isn’t considered love?
At the end of the day, the meaning of love is indefinite. Anyone has the right to feel love for someone else in many different ways, as long as it promotes happiness. What isn’t right is that the feeling of love is manipulative, destructive, and bringing sorrow to another person. This comes in the form of toxic relationship, which can stem from your spouse, friends, or even family members. In this case, this particular feeling of love is better left alone.
And remember, what is love that shows in your appearance isn’t true love. Love transcends your spoken words, written words, attitudes, and rules toward each other. Instead, love is what you have become of as you’re connected to your significant other and find yourself in the other. To sum it up, love is its self that has its own rules and cannot be manipulated by anyone. Only you can tell whether your love is true love or not.