I see a lot of relationships on the edge of ending. And it’s really sad to me! The saddest is when they end for the wrong reason. There are a lot of articles these days that contest the old adage “all you need is love,” but I want to contest the contesting. The Beatles might not have had it all right, but I think they were onto something. Their downfall was not specifying the kind of love. Love is such a broad word, I love cinnamon buns, I love kayaking, and I love my family. The ancient greeks had 7 words to describe love:
-Ludus Love is a playful and uncommitted love that seeks conquest through tactics of teasing, flirting, seducing, etc. Ludus love expects both individuals to be completely self-sufficient. -Eros, or sexual passion. Named after the Greek god of fertility, represents the idea of sexual passion and desire. This is what we like to call “chemistry”. It is rooted in some aspect of the other person that pleases you. This kind of love is dependent on someone being pleasing and attractive to you. This is also what we know as “romantic love” in today’s society.
-Storge love – love that generally exists between parents and their children – usually due to dependency and familiarity. Sometimes Eros love will turn into Storge love with time.
-Philia Love, a deep friendship/companion love. An affection, fondess, or liking felt for someone that is seen as useful, good, and trustworthy. It is a responsive love that responds to feeling appreciated, loved, and treated kindly. It’s a love that likes to receive, but it’s also a love that collapses in crisis.
-Pragma love is a love based on practicality and duty. It’s the kind of love that arranged marriages are generally based on. Many relationships that start off as Ludus or Eros can turn into Pragma love. How many times have you heard someone say, “we stay together for the kids”?
-Philautia love, or love of the self.
-Agape love, unconditional love for another. It is a love that prizes and esteems the other person unconditionally. This love is not inspired by the worth or merit of its object. It’s a love that keeps on loving even when the person loved is not loveable, is unworthy, unkind, or even unresponsive.
-Agapē desires only good for the one loved.
So what kind of love were the Beatles singing about? And if love is all you need, why do so many relationships end poorly? Why do we go through so many relationships before finding the right person. Why is it so hard to find a lifelong partner? I believe the answer lies in our belief about what love is? Is love a conquest for you? Is it born of duty? Is it born of self-love and what you receive? How do we love well and how do we choose the right relationship?
Finding the right “one” or being the right “one”? As a kid I used to see two kinds of couples. The kind that looked super in love after marriage and the kind that looked super out-of-love. I used to think “man I hope I find that kind of “love”. I thought it was dependent on making sure I found the right “one”. I thought it all depended on ending up with the right person and making the right decision. Wow, I have come a long way. Two and a half years ago I still believed that. I was looking for love but had no idea what love was. Love hit me in the face but I didn’t even recognize it because I didn’t understand what love was. How can you recognize love if you don’t know what it is? Sometimes I thought it was Ludus and sometimes I thought it was Eros or Philia. The last couple of years I learned a lot the hard way, by doing all the wrong things and not understanding true love. Now I realize it has more to do with being the right one. I looked at love from the point of view of what can I get. When you look at someone for what you’re getting, it makes you constantly evaluate their worth to you, when you evaluate someone’s worth to you, you generally end up missing how valuable they truly are. It’s complicated out there in the dating world. There are so many messages about love that actually don’t serve us. When people say they just aren’t happy anymore in their marriage, or the other person has changed, or we just aren’t compatible – they are talking about a kind of love that is conditional – Can you imagine getting married to someone that promised to love you in “sickness and health” as long as you kept them happy? That’s a scary thought. And please don’t tell me you “loved him”, but he changed.
Unfortunately, when your relationship is based on Ludus or Eros – you’re probably going to fall out of love – because this isn’t real love – it’s chemistry, a feeling, it’s romantic love, but everyday life isn’t always romantic. Love has to be a choice – right from day one all the way to the last breath and it has to be a choice to love despite what you get, despite whether the other person deserves it today or not. Love (agape) is all you need, unconditional love is all we all need. So love like you mean it. Love unconditionally – because unconditional love is a force to be reckoned with!