The Ambiguity of Love


Reese Griffin

       The concept of love is understood by most people, but this understanding is mostly on a surface level. Everyone knows the love between two people in a relationship, but do they fully know what that love is? What about the other types of love? Does everyone know that there are other loves besides romantic love? Love is not just defined by having romantic feelings for another person. It has more definitions that most people aren’t aware are love.

     Philia. The love in a friendship. Most commonly known as platonic love, Philia is the love one feels for their friends. It’s the love that develops the very first time a person makes a new friend. It’s the love that is seen in kindergarten, when two kids sit next to each other in class and realize that they both love dinosaurs or have the same Barbie backpack. It’s the love shared by 12-year-olds beginning their new adventures in sports or band or theater with their other teammates, bandmates, or fellow actors. It’s the love shared by seniors as they dance all night at their last prom and spend their last summer together before a new journey starts.

     Most everyone has been to summer camps or church retreats where they meet other campers and sometimes flings can be created. Flings are short, abrupt times of love where two people spend weeks or months together then go their separate ways and sometimes never see each other again. Summer camps are one of the most common places to find flings. Two people spend a few weeks together doing camp activities usually in a group with other campers, but those two people mostly talk to each other and some sparks start to fly. As the weeks go by, the couple will either flirt constantly with each other as neither want to make the first move and finally admit their feelings toward each other the day they leave camp or they will admit early that they are attracted to each other and spend the rest of camp developing more feelings and trying to figure out how to do long distance once camp is over. Flings can be fun-filled moments that the couple will look back upon one day separately and laugh and reminisce about the small sparks of love that meant everything at the time. Or, a couple can look back upon this fling as their first moment in time they had together that led to a lifetime of moments just like them. The beauty of a fling.

     Ludus or playful love. When getting into a relationship, everyone is warned to not get too comfortable with the first couple months known as the “honeymoon phase.” Ludus is the love that a couple experiences in the very beginning of their relationship. It’s a fun, exciting time where the couple is starting to really get to know each other and fall in love with all the good things about each other. It’s the time of all the firsts. First date, first time holding hands, irst kiss, or first flowers received or given. It’s the love that gives butterflies in stomachs and makes palms sweaty from the nervousness of starting something new. It’s the love that ignites the moment they lay eyes on each other and grows into a flame once they start talking and experiencing life together. It’s the love that keeps the couple having fun with each other before conflicts of life set into the relationship. It’s the love that helps them escape their worries and be at peace together for a time. It’s the love that makes a couple never want to leave each other. It’s the love that has them thinking maybe this is the one. It’s the love that slowly begins to develop into enduring love.

    Pragma or enduring love. It’s the most widely known love that doesn’t have just one definition. Pragma is passionate, adoring love. It’s the feeling one gets when they are overwhelmed with happiness. It’s the love that adolescents read about in books and dream about finding as adults. It’s the love that is shared between an elderly couple who hold hands and go on dates because those activities aren’t only for the young. It’s the love that is found when a younger couple makes the commitment to make their lives one. It’s the love that has new parents tiringly watching each other handle their new responsibilities and thinking to themselves how lucky they are to be in that moment. It’s the love that has two people smiling to themselves as they drift asleep thinking how happy they are for the other person to be in their life. It’s the love that has couples supporting each other’s dreams and wanting to be there as they accomplish them. It’s the love of knowing the worst of someone and loving them for it. It’s the love of growing together and overcoming any obstacle. It’s the love of making sacrifices for each other because nothing else matters but them. It’s the love that endures forever.

     The most important love is Philautia or self-love. Without Philautia, one cannot possibly be successful in any of the other loves above. However, self-love is difficult to obtain for most people. Everyone gets insecure and doubts themselves sometimes. People are always thinking about how they should improve themselves whether it’s physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Perfection is impossible to achieve; yet, it doesn’t stop anyone from trying to be society’s definition of “perfection.” Philautia comes from a person being comfortable with who they are as a person both inside and outside. There will always be room for improvement, but self-love comes from accepting the things about oneself that cannot be changed. Everyone is beautiful in their own way, and when a person begins to believe that they are beautiful just the way they are, they will begin to fully understand the meaning of Philautia.