At one time or another, we all need more than one type of love, so nurture more of these and see how your life goes.
This post is written for my clients who are—or anyone else who has ever been—grief-stricken, broken-hearted, or has ever lost love of any kind.
There is an ultimate
lesson from life, love,
and death for each of us to learn.
I once had to deal with my own grief. I was divorced eight years ago, so I profoundly empathize with the grieving that comes from that. Like many of us, I’ve also lost love due to the ending of a long relationship. It was largely my fault, and yet I can’t turn back the calendar and do things differently. I have been left suddenly and without any explanation, leaving me with an altogether different kind of grief. I have felt the poisonous burn of betrayal and left the person responsible. And I have loved and had my love rejected. I have lost a parent and felt the feeling of being more alone than ever. I am just a regular person, even if I am a life coach.
Folks, even if pain is evitable, most of us believe love is worth the cost. Just as death is an outcome of life, poets tell us that pain is a part of love. Yet there is an ultimate lesson from life, love, and death for each of us to learn. But this post isn’t about loss and pain. We’ve had enough of that, right? I surely have.
This article is to introduce you to a more expansive view of love.
We can thank the Greeks
for developing an
the seven different types of love.
Sometimes knowing that there is more than one type of love can help in managing grief. One type of love might be gone, or one extraordinarily special person that provided you with many types of love may have left forever. This isn’t written to help you erase them or the pain; it’s simply to broaden your recognition that other love exists in your life and to cherish it, too. Like losing a resplendent tree at your home, this is to help you remember that maybe there are flowers and plants still there, that if nurtured, can give you a bit of peace. And like those plants, here are some areas you can learn to nurture.
In so many ways our classically romantic lives have been touched by the ancient Greeks. We can thank the Greeks for developing an understanding of the following seven different types of love. A therapist I once read added a couple more to the list. I hope that they do for you the good they did for me.
Eros. This is your everyday form of love that instantly come to mind when people think of finding romantic love. Think sexual passion and desire. It is named after the Greek god of fertility. It’s that enchanting element we call chemistry that helps ignite the beginning of a relationship and that many endlessly seek.
Ludus. Do you know that crush feeling that gives you butterflies in your tummy? Have you felt that innocent playful feeling of love? That’s Ludus. It’s present with a romantic partner, but it can also be that playful love you have with a friend that doesn’t involve the chemistry.
Philia. Now that we are on the subject of friends, there’s a special deep friendship kind of love called Philia. You know, those friends you that you have and you feel like soul mates. The kind of friend that you might not speak to for years, and then you talk and pick up right where you left off? That is it. It is a deep love with a deep bond and it isn’t gender specific. Yes, you can have this with your romantic partner and but it isn’t guaranteed.
Pragma. This is one kind of love that almost everyone deeply desires and yet don’t know the name for what it is they’re seeking—it’s a “longstanding love.” That’s the promise of the “happily ever after” in fairy tales. It is a love that lasts. Parents and children, as well as great marriages and friendships, are typical of this.
Storge. Even deeper is this kind of familial love, and it addresses the unconditional aspect of family love. It encompasses the dependency and unconditional familial bonds that can exist regardless of what our personal qualities may be.
Agape. That one some of you may know of as the universal love for everyone. This is what the 60s songs were about when they called out “make love over war.” Jesus described this type of love in the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and is felt in the “Namaste” greeting that means “I bow to the divine in you.”
Philautia. Finally, there is love of the self. It’s not a selfish or narcissistic types of love steeped in ego-gratification. This is the love of self that listens to and honors one’s feelings and inner guidance. In working with clients, I have found this one can be the most difficult. It refrains from self-criticism and self-punishment. Paradoxically, when you find the self-criticism in people it usually results in that person lashing out and criticizing others. Philautia, being self-soothing, allows people to better empathize with and comfort others.
A famous coach and therapist added two more. They are Forgiveness and Faith Forgiveness of any of the pain you have ever felt in love (or frankly, anywhere else) and faith that this is not the end and that something bigger exists that just can’t be explained.
So, these are my basic lessons from love, loss, and death for you to ponder. Each of us can benefit from taking a moment and looking at our lives, our loves, and our world seeking out where each love resides, and finding ways to feed them as we work to improve our lives and the world in which we live.
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Frank Hopkins is a life coach in Baton Rouge who is certified as a Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). Frank has helped numerous people to go through emotional change in a way that is positively transformative.