What do you know of love?
Is it experience, emotion or choice?
Why is it so hard to understand?
What makes relationships so tricky?
There’s a bit of a science to love. It is actually possible to understand it and become better at it. Much better.
Let me show you how:
First I’ll explain the four different types of love, then I’ll show you how to wield them.
The four types of love
Eros is romantic love. Where 2 people fall head over heels in ‘love’, hold hands, kiss and hug and all that jazz.
It’s the type of love that feels most like an emotion and least like a choice. It is the type of love that’s designed to drive procreation and as a result, ensures the survival of the human race.
Eros has the strongest instinctive pull of all of the types of love.
Eros is not uncontrollable. You can choose to follow it’s pull or not to.
Eros is not always accompanied by strong emotions, however this is generally how we experience it most of the time. Especially with young love.
Philia is friendship love. Where 2 or more people share a common interest, hope, loyalty & direction. This could be very specific to perhaps, a sport or work, or it could be very vague. You could be friends with someone just because they’re sometimes in the same place as you, or even just because they speak the same language as you.
Philia can be experienced as a one on one friendship or as part of an enormous group.
Philia can be experienced very closely or quite distantly, depending on the temperaments of the people involved. Even a friendly nod can say ‘Hey, you’re human and so am I. We’re in this life thing together. Have a great day.’
Philia requires virtue, equality and familiarity. It is the mechanism which allows communities, clubs and other gatherings of people with common interests, offline and online.
Agape is the most profound and most impacting type of love.
Agape is the hardest to give because it requires that you keep on giving it, even when the other person involved doesn’t return any love.
Agape is given without any thought at all of benefiting yourself. It’s purely for the other person.
Agape is kindness to your neighbour, picking up after another person’s shortfalls, opening the door for a stranger, returning a lost wallet to the local cop shop, letting someone know they’ve left their lights on, leaving a book lying around a public place with a note for the next person to pick it up to take it and enjoy it too, giving someone a smile as you pass by.
I’m sure you can think of plenty more.
Agape is very much a choice.
Storge is parental love.
Storge is that incredible bond between a mother and father and their children.
It has the power to drive a parent to do anything for their child, even to the point of death.
It’s the stuff that makes mums and dads happily make baby noises and play on swings that are way too small for them in public places.
When Storge is wielded, it has the power to make a parent forgive their child at whatever age for whatever they’ve done. A hundred times over.
These are the types of love, now let me teach you how to wield them.
The Love Languages
This next bit revolutionised our marriage and other relationships in our lives. I’m sharing it with you because I am 100% confident that if you put these principles into practice, you’ll see an amazing change in your own relationships, whether it’s your relationship with your partner, family, work colleagues or any other relationship you might have.
Please excuse the rant J Read on.
Did you know that we’re not all the same in how we receive and give love?
Here’s a short picture to get your mind around this concept:
Imagine that you and someone else share one of those toys where you have different shapes that have to go through the right shaped holes. So you have five shapes and the other person has the rest of the toy with 5 different shaped holes.
You love the triangle. That’s your favourite. In your opinion everyone should love triangles. There should be triangles everywhere and triangle holes to put them in.
But just over there is your friend with the other bit of the toy. They’re looking at the round hole. That’s the best one. Everyone should love round holes.
So you hook up. You get your triangle and your friend faces the round hole towards you. There’s a problem. The triangle won’t fit into the round hole.
It’s the same with Love. All 4 types of love, in fact.
There’s five different Love ‘Languages’
- Acts of Kindness
- Encouraging words
- Quality Time
- Personal Touch and closeness
- Gift Giving
I won't go through and define each one because they're pretty self explanatory.
Lets say you love encouraging words.
You really love it when someone says something nice about you or notices something nice about you.
Not only do you feel great when someone encourages you but you also feel good when you say something nice to someone else.
Now lets say your partner really loves spending quality time. They thrive on it and every chance they can get, they’re looking for an opportunity to go on a date together, watch a movie together, go for a walk together or whatever together.
Can you imagine that encouraging words are the triangle shape and quality time is the round hole?
What happens when you try to show your partner love by saying encouraging words?
What happens when they keep trying to spend time with you when you just want to have a bit of me time?
There’s a problem, isn’t there. A triangle just won’t go through the round hole. Your partner won’t feel especially loved from those encouraging words. Rather, they might take them as sarcasm or highlighting how they fall short in other areas of their life.
Q: So if I have one dominant love language and my partner has another, does this mean that we’re not compatible?
A: No. You can learn to love your partner in the way that they receive it best; Their love language.
We actually have the full arsenal of love languages at our disposal we just need to learn how and when to use them.
There’s a four step process:
1. Recognise your own love language.
2. Learn how to use the love languages you’re not so good at expressing.
3. Have a close look at the different relationships you have in your life, starting with those closest to you and learn which love language these people speak.
4. Start showing love to them in THEIR native love language and watch the relationship go from strength to strength.
Q: How do I recognise someone else’s love language?
A: Easy. Watch what they give. If they give loads of gifts, they’re a gift giver. If they say a lot of encouraging things, they’re an encouraging words person. If they give a bunch of hugs and don’t seem to get the concept of personal space, they’re probably a personal touch person, etc.
Q: How do I find out what my Love Language is?
A: A couple of ways:
- Watch how you give love most often and work it out from there?
- Do a quick ‘love languages’ test at http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/
Just a brief disclaimer:
We don’t have any official connection with ‘The Five Love Languages’ organisation. We just really love their stuff and have experienced the immense benefit of this knowledge in our own lives and are keen to pass it on.