Loves – how do you love best?
There are many definitions for love that English has only has one word for, which is ‘love’ and it gets bantered about indiscriminately, whereas the Greek language has five words, which are more descriptive:
- Desire – Attraction (epithumia)
- Longing – Romance (eros)
- Belonging – Affection (storge)
- Cherishing – Friendship (phile)
- Selfless Giving – Unconditional Love (agape)
There is much range in the length, strength, and potential for loving and our life experiences help us to expand in all of them. In a spousal relationship both parties need to learn all five for a relationship to succeed, as all too often there is unbalance, especially with agape where one person becomes a doormat. Balance, baby!
When you really love someone, it is from the core of your being and when one kind of love is not so strong today, we can use another to compensate until balance is restored. The hard part is to find that companion on the same scale as you that you can share your loves with and grow in together.
Since you have to start with someone somewhere on a scale, you should know yourself and your capacity for each as reflected in your daily life.
- Agape grows to great heights in parenting and if you’ve never had a child or are estranged from yours, someone else’s love for theirs may be overwhelming for you.
- Epithumia and eros are stronger if you have had many romantic liaisons or played the field a lot, you likely have more experience with them than someone who has been married for 20 years to one person and your passion may be overwhelming for them.
- Storge may come naturally to you if you came from a very affectionate family and you may find that someone who hasn’t or has been abused will pull away with certain touching.
Some people may grow at the same level together for years, then ‘Poof’, one wants to go in a new direction and the other wants to remain in the comfort zone. The important thing is that we can all learn as much as we want about love and the rewards of sharing it are insurmountable when the right person comes along.
More importantly, what you may not know is that we don’t need to be in a relationship to grow in these loves. These are virtues that we can develop on our own until we find someone to share them with. It certainly takes away from the clingy aspect of a relationship when you realize that you don’t need someone else to make you feel a certain way, you can do it yourself.
We all have our inherent universal love inside and it’s well worth the time to get back to that. Plus, almost everyone has experienced the sensations of love at one time or another in their life and it is simply a matter of recalling that sensation that your body has stored in its cellular memory.
- If you are missing ‘storge’ with its sense of belonging, recall a moment that you felt that you belonged somewhere and relive the moment. It could be a dinner party long ago where you were surrounded by friends and the joy of the season. Don’t start imagining a person you miss, as it is the feeling of belonging that you are bringing up, not any sadness, so stay focused.
You can do this exercise with all of the loves and grow in them at your own pace. Be careful with desire and romance as they produce strong fantasies. You can dance around them as long as you maintain control of your thoughts and your body. Celibacy is a blessing when you are preparing yourself for a real relationship, so do not give in to a troublesome fling as you won’t want the stale cologne of a careless tryst sabotaging a great love. When you are strong enough in each of the loves and are ready to share them with someone, you will know for certain, and they will be ready, too.