Love. It’s something we all search for, dream of and yearn to have, but have you ever stopped to wonder what it is? Webster’s dictionary has so many definitions like; affection, deep emotion, passion, devotion, to kiss, to embrace, to have intercourse, a bond, a reverence. The english word “Love” came from the Old English word “Luf” which means “dear”. The greeks have 8 separate words for types of Love, and this is where my interest has resided. Eight types of love, which correspond to how we feel this emotion, no where in any texts I have read or in talking with anyone is love required to be reciprocated. We can feel love for another human, objects, places and a higher power, though the love we feel isn’t reliant upon it being returned.

A concept that I think many have lost in our current state. This is a realization that has changed my life, realizing that my love is not dependent upon another. I am free to love anyone and anything without fear that it can be taken away. My love resides within me. That may be where the confusion is; we think that to love is to be “in love”, that we can only love someone who loves us back, we force our love on others in order to prove this love. Isn’t that what makes relationships special though, when two people love each other in the same way and decide to continue loving and exploring the ways their love can co-mingle.

Each type of love corresponds to how we feel it, Eros is an erotic love, passionate, physical and typically lasting only in the moment, just like our physical bodies, eros is temporary. Philia is an affectionate love, referred to as brotherly love, it’s how Philadelphia got it’s name, this is how we love our friends, family, coworkers and neighbors, a practice with the mind. Storge is one I recently brought up, it’s love that resides within memories, it’s triggered by a cause, it can extend to objects, places or people, typically family or friends that we have memories with or of. Ludus is playful, typically referring to young love, it’s a way to learn love and how we practice until we find what we really love, it’s emotional, it’s a game, it’s fun, it’s a stepping stone. Mania is obsessive or instinctual; it’s how we love the sun and food and water, but it’s dark too, forcing us to think we love someone so much that we cannot live without them. Pragma is an enduring love that we aren’t always aware of, it survives through time, difficult situations and holds strong and steady. Philantia looks similar to Philia, though it refers to¬†self love; it’s felt within our soul. Lastly is Agape, selfless love that resides in our spirit, an unconditional love that is typically referred to as the kind of love a parent gives their child, or in religious texts the kind God gives to us.

Since delving into this topic of love, I’ve broken down most of my past relationships to discover that what I thought was love, maybe wasn’t the kind I really wanted, or maybe I was forcing my love on another or vice versa. This is why I strongly support explaining our feelings of love with each other, StrawberryPropaganda love letters can describe any of these loves, a combination or your own version if you’ve discovered that within yourself. Love cannot be taken away, love cannot be forced upon you because it comes from within, it’s an emotion that we project onto the world, not the other way around.

I’ve been reading a book I picked up from my Grandfather’s desk entitled “Human Destiny”. Inside it explains that there is no such thing as a universal truth. This struck me, I got angry and put the book down for a time because I have been in search of universal truths. After awhile, I picked it back up and read further. The point was that each of us has our own experiences which feed into our own truths, thereby making it impossible for everyone to come to the same conclusion based upon our differing histories.

I can only speak for my own experiences and from what I’ve discovered, love enriches my life whether or not it is reciprocated. I don’t force my love on anyone or anything, though and that’s where this emotion gets sticky, right? What if we don’t love someone else the way they love us? Maybe it’s excruciating and we think we are broken as a result, that we are incapable of finding love. But is that love? What kind is it? Maybe we’ve gotten confused as to mixing our terms between what is love, what is relationship and what is connection.

I am in a relationship with those who love me, respect me and who I’ve reciprocated those feeling with. I am connected to anyone who chooses to respond to my light as a being. I love you, I love my family, I love my friends, I love my home wherever it is, and I love myself, my body and yes, I love love in all of it’s forms. Next time you tell someone you love them, think about what that word means to you, maybe even explore how and why you do.