Love is a Many Splendored Thing
Hearts, flowers, romance and couples, if you mention love, it's young, sexy and full of fairytale endings. But love comes in many forms, and people can feel a little left out this time of year, be they heartbroken, lonely or simply feeling undervalued. But it doesn't have to be this way.
The ancient Greeks recognised the multi-faceted nature of love and identified more than one category. From superficial flirting to deep family bonds, love can mean many things to different people. Here are some of our favourites.
Eros - Passion
"Her hair was a beach of shimmering golden sand. Her body was a sea of broiling passion." T.W. Lawless
Valentine's day is most often associated with romance, the type of love the ancient Greeks called Eros. Named after the mischievous god of love, it's what we today refer to as the honeymoon period. This phase of falling in love is intense, heady, passionate, and highly physical. Think extended mornings in bed, luxurious suppers, butterflies in the stomach and physical waves of love. This first dynamic phase will not last forever, and studies suggest that these intense feelings will span on average two to three years. These early years play an essential role in bonding a couple but, more importantly, should be savoured and enjoyed to the max.
Pragma - A Deeper Love
Many would refer to these early stages in a relationship as lust or infatuation, a precursor to the more profound, 'true love' that develops over time. The ancient Greeks called this type of love pragma, a mature love where the rose-tinted glasses are removed as lovers look into each other's eyes and accept the true person before them. At this stage, couples often build a nest together and begin to support each other in life's emotional and material trials and tribulations. Lovers in a mature relationship may not want the fluffy hearts or roses, but thoughtful gifts that last a little longer can add to the bank of established memories
Philia - Affectionate Love
From a young age, we tend to compare our Valentine's gifts and cards, leaving some feeling left out or unloved. Following a breakup or a phase in life where we are unlucky in love, Valentine's can feel like salt in the wounds when we are bombarded with imagery of happy couples and romance. Over the last few years, however, girlfriends have been getting together and celebrating their friendship and love for each other, A love the Greeks called Philia. Made popular by the tv series Parks and Recreation, Galentine's day is becoming more popular with cocktail parties, Mani/Pedi events, bubbly brunches, and secret Cupid's happening the world over. In fact, the traditional Valentine's obligatory dinner date is looking quite tired in comparison with goody bags,treats and secret cupids. All women know that you can't beat a great friend, a woman that will be there through thick and thin. The ancient Greeks knew that losing these types of friendships, this form of love, could be just as devastating as losing a romantic partner. Valentine's is a great way of paying homage to this essential aspect of love.
Philautia - Self Love
"All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man's feelings for himself." Aristotle
Self-love was once frowned upon as an egotistical trait, but self-care and being kind to yourself have had a lot of traction this century. As Ru Paul rightly says, 'If you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else' and yes, the ancient Greeks had a name for this too - Philautia. Paramount for pride in one's identity, mental well-being and general health, it's good to love and look after ourselves, and that includes the occasional, or regular, treat.
As humans, we are conditioned to seek out romantic love and assess our worth on our status as a couple, but life has many seasons and many varieties of love. This Valentine's celebrate the love you do have in your life, romance may be fleeting or elusive, but love can be found in abundance if you don't box it in. Be you in your first flush of love, sipping cocktails with girls who care about you or women that make you feel worthwhile; love is about how people make you feel, be it sexy, safe or cherished.