Relationships, part 67: How Do I Love Thee, Let me Count the Ways
What do you mean when you say I love you? The word love can be used to cover a multitude of sentiments. There is tremendous variety among those who march under the banner of love, from the most selfless angels to the most hate-filled devils.
When you say love do you mean?
· I want what’s best for you, even if it doesn’t involve me. If you mean this, then you are talking about Agape, the highest form of love. If you mean this then you are prepared to sacrifice, you want your beloved to become strong and independent, the best that he or she can be, even if it means that you must withdraw from his or her life. This is the kind of love that is demanded of parents who must give up nearly everything for their children and then let them go to live their own lives. It’s also demanded of life partners even though it may not be necessary.
· You turn me on, sexually. This is what the ancient Greeks call Eros, erotic love. It’s often where people start when they meet someone and are attracted to them.
· I have a lot of fun with you. This is Ludus, a form of love that is mostly playful. Ludic love loves variety and adventure, trying new things, new positions, new activities, and unexpected combinations. It sees seriousness as deadly and commitment as a trap. It just wants to have a good time.
· Together we can build something important. Here we have Pragma. You guessed it, a pragmatic, practical coalition that’s all about achieving a common goal.
· You’re my best friend. You are just like me and, even when you are not, you understand and support me better than anyone ever has before. This kind of love is called Storge. Seriously, it’s called Storge.
· I need you. This is Manic love, love that views the object as a possession that the lover needs to feel complete. Below the surface, the Manic lover is really saying, I don’t think anyone can love me. Prove me wrong. You seem to be offering love, but on a deeper level you’re really searching for it. You might extend yourself to your beloved with affection, gifts, services, and many other things, but will be disappointed by the responses you receive. Until you learn to properly love yourself, none of the responses you get, however loving, will make you feel loved.
Having one kind of love does not preclude having another in equal or greater amounts. One kind can grow out of another. If you have them all, then I guess you hit the jackpot.
However, some of these types of love are more sustainable than others, some are more satisfying, some are a good or a bad match to you.
What kind of love do you and your partner have, if any at all?