How Do I Love Thee?

The common concept is there are three Greek words meaning love. Actually there are eight. By understanding all eight we can better understand what some people really mean when they say “I love you.”

Original Greek “ér?s” is physical love or sexual desire. Eros is the type of love that involves passion, lust, and/or romance. Examples of eros would be the love felt between lovers. The word eros is still used in psychology today to refer to sexual desire or the libido. The words erotic and erogenous, which both have to do with sexual desire or arousal, are derived from eros.

Original Greek “philía” is affectionate love. Philia is the type of love that involves friendship. Philia is the kind of love that strong friends feel.

Original Greek “agáp?” is often defined as unconditional, sacrificial love. Agape is the kind of love that is felt by a person willing to do anything for another, including sacrificing themselves, without expecting anything in return. In the New Testament, agape is the word used to describe the love that God has for humanity and the love humanity has for God. Agape was also the love that Jesus Christ felt for humanity, which explains why he was willing to sacrifice himself.

Original Greek “storgé” is familial love. Storge is the natural love that family members have for one another. It is the type of love that parents feel toward their children and vice versa. Storge also describes the love that siblings feel towards each other, and the love felt by even more distant kin relationships.

Original Greek “manía” is obsessive love. Mania is the kind of “love” that stalkers feel toward their victims. As a type of love, mania is not good, Mania is excessive love that reaches the point of obsession or madness. Mania describes what a jilted lover feels when they are extremely jealous of a rival or the unhealthy obsession that can result from mental illness.

Original Latin “ludus” comes from Latin rather than Greek. In Latin, l?dus means “game” or “play,” which fits with the type of love it refers to. Ludus is playful, noncommittal love. When it comes to ludus, a person is not looking for a committed relationship. People who are after ludus are just looking to have fun or view sex as a prize to be won. Both parties bring things that benefit the relationship, but neither partner is interested in commitment. Of course, ludus may eventually result in eros—and hopefully not mania—if feelings of passion or romance emerge during the relationship.

Original Greek “prágma” is practical love. Pragma is love based on duty, obligation, or logic. Pragma is the unsexy love that you might find in the political, arranged marriages throughout history. The word pragma is related to pragmatic, a word that is all about practicality.

Original Greek “philautía” is self-love that refers to how persons view themselves and how they feel about their own body and mind. The modern equivalent is self-esteem (good) or hubris (bad) Egomaniacal narcissists who think they are better than everybody else are also an example of philautia, but not in a healthy way.

Evaluate your love relations including how you love the Lord.