The English language has a lot of explaining to do when it comes to certain phrases or grammatical rules - that whole ‘i before e except after c’ thing still gets me - albeit is mighty catchy. But the fact that we only have one singular word for love, seems like a real shame. Sure, there’s a lot of descriptive words we can use to articulate how we feel about someone - affection, care, trust, desire, passion, camaraderie - but ‘love’ doesn’t quite encompass all the ways we could feel about all the different people in our lives.
In a world that often places romantic love on a pedestal as the one true love we should all aspire for, it's easy to overlook all the other ways love shows up in our life. Love is not a one-size-fits-all experience; it comes in various forms and flavours, each with its own unique magic.
Where English lacks in the love department, ancient Greek excels. In fact, they even studied the concept of love, denoting that there are in fact eight different types that we can experience in our lives, extending far beyond the narrow confines of romantic relationships. From the warmth of familial bonds to the solidarity found in friendships, allow me to introduce you to your new vocabulary of love, and discover practical ways to enhance these connections in your own life.
1. Eros: Passionate Love
Eros, is the type of love most often associated with romance, and is all about passion. This type of love is characterised by intense desire, physical attraction, sexual chemistry and a deep connection between partners. To express Eros, engage in acts of physical intimacy, surprise your partner with spontaneous gestures and spice up your sex life.
Eros in practice:
- Indulge in regular cuddles, kisses, and steamy touch
- Create a romantic atmosphere with candles, music, and unexpected date nights
- Explore your sexual fantasies with a yes/no/maybe list
- Write love letters or heartfelt messages to express your feelings for your lover
- Plan a surprise date or weekend getaway to keep to connect with each other
- Use conversation cue cards or play 36 Questions in Love to deepen your connection
- Seduce your lover and have a wild night between the sheets
2. Agape: Unconditional Love
Agape is an all-encompassing unconditional love that extends beyond romantic relationships. It tends to be less focussed on a person and more altruistic in nature, manifesting in acts of kindness, compassion, and selflessness. You can tap into agape by practising empathy, supporting loved ones without expecting anything in return, and embracing the beauty of imperfection.
Agape in practice:
- Volunteer for a charitable cause that means a lot to you
- Be the friend that people turn to for emotional support
- Cook a nourishing meal for someone who’s having a tough time
- Practise random acts of kindness
- Revel in the beauty of nature
3. Storge: Familial Love
Storge, or familial love, is the deep, unbreakable bond shared between family members. It’s one that many people can take for granted or forget to foster, though. Whether it’s with your parents and siblings, or your spouse and children, spending quality time together, being present for the small and the big moments and creating your own special traditions can be a beautiful way to foster storge.
Storge in practice:
- Establish a fun family dinner, game night or movie night tradition
- Create a family photo album or shared group text together
- Plan a weekend getaway or reunion
4. Philia: Deep Friendship
Philia is that bestie love, the closeness you have in your friendships. Sometimes best friends can feel like soul mates - they’re the people in your life that tend to just ‘get you’ and who you celebrate your wins with, and turn to for support during your lows. Plan regular catch-up sessions, surprise your friends with thoughtful gestures, or engage in shared hobbies and activities to deepen the bond of friendship.
Philia in practice:
- Catch up in person or stay in touch though texts regularly
- Remember important events in their life and check in with them
- Share your favourite memes with them
- Tick things off your bucket list together
- Go on a roadtrip together
5. Pragma: Enduring Love
Pragma is that ever-lasting love, the enduring, mature love that stands the test of time. Most often found in long-term relationships, pragma thrives on compromise, patience, and a deep understanding of each other's needs. You can nourish pragma in your long-term relationships by actively working on communication, embracing each other's growth, and finding joy in shared accomplishments.
Pragma in practice:
- Plan regular "relationship check-ins" to discuss personal and shared goals for your future
- Create a vision board together of experiences you’d like to share
- Create your own relationship rituals of connection and traditions
- Celebrate milestones and anniversaries together
6. Mania: Obsessive Love
Of all the types of love, Mania is one that we can probably all agree is best to steer clear of. It’s a love of obsession, jealousy and possessiveness - can you say red flag? For those who have experienced this type of love, it can feel overwhelming and passionate and to move through this and to a healthier expression requires a lot of trust-building, healthy boundaries, and a focus on independence.
- Write down and discuss your individual goals and boundaries in the relationship
- Foster your independence by cultivating your own personal hobbies and interests outside of a romantic partnership
- Practice mindfulness and self-reflection to manage intense emotions
7. Ludus: Playful Love
Ludus is the playful expression of love, and is all about creating a sense of fun, joy and spontaneity in your relationships. It tends to be the lighthearted, cute and silly feeling of love that we experience in the early days of a relationship or even within friendships. Laughter is the cornerstone of ludus, so prioritising play and humour is the key to experiencing this type of love.
Ludus in practice:
- Engage in playful activities together like board games, sports, or outdoor adventures
- Plan a surprise date to a comedy night
- Share in jokes, funny memes, or playful teasing to keep the atmosphere light
- Try a silly Tik Tok trend together
8. Philautia: Self-Love
Last but certainly not least, Philautia is all about loving yourself. We’ve all heard the importance of cultivating self-love before looking outward for love, and philautia is a great way to prioritise your well-being through self-care, setting boundaries, and celebrating your own personal achievements. Being gentle and kind to yourself, and speaking to yourself with love is a great place to start. This will only enhance the love you can share with others.
Philautia in practice:
- Practice self-care by turning the love languages on yourself
- Recognise and celebrate your achievements
- Speak kindly to yourself and say positive affirmations
- Allow yourself to prioritise your pleasure
- Speak up for yourself and ensure your needs are met
- Indulge in sensual self-touch
In a society that places a massive emphasis on romantic love, it's essential to recognize and celebrate the multitude of ways love can enrich our lives - and the various ways that love can look. So, the next time someone mentions love, remember that it's not confined to candlelit dinners and grand gestures. By understanding and actively engaging in these eight types of love, we can build more meaningful connections, and recognise just how much love we already have in our lives - regardless of whether it's ludus or philia or pragma.