Love goes way beyond February and Valentine’s Day, as the ancient Greeks well knew. Today we even have Galentine’s Day to celebrate our female friendships; a version of what Plato called Philia or friendship. Romantic, passionate love or Eros, and friendship are the two most commonly thought of types of love. But there’s no need to stop there! Love is all around us. Indeed, once we open ourselves up to all the love, we might just find ourselves walking around with fuller hearts and a lighter step. 

Explore with me the seemingly endless feelings that love conveys. With each of these seven different types, picture in your mind someone who fits the description and let your heart soar!

The concept of universal love or love for all mankind is what the Greeks call Agape. Today we might call it compassion, loving kindness, altruism or open concern for the welfare of all. It’s a sign of cooperation and partnering for a greater good – something we could all use a bit more of these days.

Philia or friendship love makes us feel cared for and supported. True friends relate to each other authentically sharing joys and sorrows as well as character flaws. This vulnerability allows the heart to open to deeper shared friendship.

Storge, pronounced “store-jay”, is family love such as the love of parents for their children. Because early in life children are dependent on their parents, Storge may seem one-sided. However as healthy family relationships evolve, familial love brings great joy and security. As parents age and the roles are reversed, true storge is ever present in compassionate caregiving for a family member on their way out this world.

Next comes the heart fire of Eros, sexual or passionate love. It aligns most closely to our concept of romantic love. While lots of fun, it can also be the most fleeting, complicated and emotionally turbulent of loves.

Then there’s playful love. No commitment, just lots of fun with no strings attached. This is what is known as Ludus, a casual, undemanding yet often long-lasting relationship. Think of friends with benefits.

Pragma is just like it sounds; a pragmatic, practical version of love. It’s a connection that revolves around shared goals and partnership. Pragma can also coexist with other types of love such as Storge, Agape and Eros. Combined  in the right proportions, it’s a power packed love bomb!

Philautia, self-love, is the final of the seven types of love identified by the Greeks. This can go two ways- either into hubris and narcissism or self-care and positive self-esteem. Take the high road and value self-care. It gives you resilience, compassion for yourself and others and allows for joy and acceptance. It’s about loving your neighbor as yourself, rather than instead of yourself. Philautia is an open invitation to treat yourself as you would treat a dear friend; with kindness, understanding and acceptance. Go Philautia!