Love in many languages

The Ancient Greeks had seven different words for different types of love. 

The seven different kinds of love are

— Eros: sexual passion.

— Philia: deep friendship.

— Ludus: playful love.

— Agape: love for everyone.

— Pragma: long-standing love.

— Philautia: self-love.

— Storge: parental love.

The English language only has one word for love: love.

Now if you ask me, that is a lot of pressure to put on a single word. See, I love my friends. I love my family. I love my boyfriend. I love myself. I love drinking coffee. I love writing. But I love each of those people or things in different ways. If I loved my boyfriend the same way I loved my coffee, that would be weird.

Though everyone would hopefully figure that I feel love differently for coffee than I do for my boyfriend, it gets more complicated when you are expressing love for people.

I love my family in a way where I would do anything and everything to add as much good and happiness to their lives as possible. I love them in a way where no matter how long it has been since I talked to them, we pick up right where we left off and are still close. It’s a familiar love, or a combination of philia, pragma and storge.

I love my friends in a way similar to my family, I would do anything and everything to add as much good and happiness to their lives as I can. It’s platonic or as the Ancient Greeks called it, philia.

I love my boyfriend in a way where I am constantly improving myself to be the best version of myself in order to be the best person for him because he deserves that from me. I love him in a way where he is one of my top priorities. It’s a combination of eros, philia and pragma.

I love myself in a way where I am constantly working hard to lay a solid foundation for my future, while also keeping myself as sane as possible. It’s simple philautia.

But here’s the thing: the way the English language is set up would require more of an explanation when the kind of love you feel for a person changes. Instead of just being able to say “I love you,” one would have to say, “I love you as more than a friend” or “I love you in a romantic way” or something similar.

And although it’s something miniscule in our language where humans could just read the context clues to understand what kind of love another is talking about, it would be beautiful to have a spectrum of different “loves” to explain to other people exactly how they light up our lives and make us feel.

Love is a powerful emotion that deserves more than just four letters. The Ancient Greeks had it right.


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