Out of all the types of love that we experience, romantic love is surely the most popular one, but perhaps, somewhat overrated. As surprising as it may sound, romantic love is far from being a timeless relic; it is actually a modern invention. Most ancient societies didn’t allow romantic experiences and marriages followed a set of rules. Roughly around 1800, the idea of romantic love as we understand it today started to take shape across different societies. The concept of romantic love was born with the advent of the novel.
Jane Austen, the pioneer of the romance genre in novels, has deeply influenced modern perceptions of romantic love, passion, and marriage. French writer, Gustave Flaubert, in his debut novel Madame Bovary, mentions how Emma Bovary, the eponymous protagonist, discovers about romantic passion in the “refuse of old lending libraries.”– highlighting the birth of the concept of romantic love in fictional stories.
The modern world is obsessed with romantic love, but there are, in fact, many other types of love. In fact, these types of love are more easily available and more permanent in nature and hence, are more fulfilling and healing in the long-term. So we should definitely try to nurture these different types of love in our lives.
In ancient Greece, different words were used to distinguish between different types of love. In the descriptions given below, you will get to know about these different types of love and their catalyst.
Catalyst is an agent which speeds up the rate of action. A love catalyst is an agent in your body that enhances the feeling of a particular type of love. For example, your soul is the catalyst for self-love (philautia), while the mind is the catalyst for affectionate love (philia)
The seven types of love described in this article are sourced from classical works by Greek philosophers, like Plato and Aristotle, and also based on the 1973 book, Colors of Love, by JA Lee.
1. Eros — Passionate Love
Love catalyst: Body
Eros is the love of the body, or sexual lust, or erotic and passionate love. In Greek mythology, Eros is the God of sexual love who shot golden arrows towards mortals and immortals. When it struck someone’s heart, an intense desire, almost like madness, gripped the person. Paris and Helen of Troy were victims of this powerful arrow of love, which ultimately led to the destruction of Troy. The term “erotica” is rooted in the Greek word eros.
In contemporary philosophy, eros is connected with a greater force of nature, something resembling the “insatiable will” in Schopenhauer’s philosophy, which explains that we all are driven by a fundamentally blind desire to strive for survival through reproduction.
Ways to show Eros:
- Compliment someone’s physical appearance
- Physical gestures, like kissing and cuddling
- Romantic emotions
2. Philia — Affectionate Love
Love catalyst: The Mind
Philia, or brotherly love, is the love we usually feel towards friends and brothers and represents platonic love. It is founded on shared understanding, compassion and mutual respect. This love is always reciprocated and we feel cared for and peaceful on sharing a high level of openness and connection with another person.
Aristotle’s idea of shared goodwill was that a person can acquire goodwill from other people on the basis of three things: his usefulness, his pleasantness, and most importantly, his virtue, i.e., he is good, has a rational mind, and is a man of principles. Friendships built on shared goodwill aren’t only about benefiting from each other– trust, reliability, and rapport are crucial qualities too.