Based on works of Aristotle and Plato (and on J.A. Lee's 1973 book, "The Colours of Love"), love is categorized as follows:
Eros — Romantic, passionate love
Philia — Intimate, authentic friendship
Storge — Familial love
Agape — Selfless love
Ludus — Playful, flirtatious love
Pragma — Long-lasting love
Philautia — Love of the self
The first time I heard the "love others" message in church, I made a small vow to myself I’d love people no matter what. A week later, after an argument ensued between me and another student, I immediately unmade that promise.
It's amazing how your perspective on love can change so quickly. In high school, love developed into boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. If you didn’t have someone by sophomore year, your peers considered you emotionally unavailable, or else you were going to become a monk or a nun for the rest of your life.
Eros, represented as the idea of sexual passion and desire, is often portrayed in movies, and I think it’s sometimes considered dangerous for a reason. I question this kind of love a lot, and it’s a struggle not to give in to those desires, but virginity is something you can’t get back. To be physically intimate with someone, you’re giving a part of yourself away to them. The flames of sexual pleasure burn out quickly.
Philia is a type of love felt among friends who’ve endured hard times together. With friendships, I realized even that kind of love is limited, but you know who your true friends are when adversity comes. In Proverbs 18:24, it says, "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Amanda, one of my college friends, earned the title of "Most Patient Roommate Ever" after dealing with my early morning routines and staying up for late-night "Meaning of Life" conversations. She listened to me when I was having a rough day and prayed for my dad when I discovered he had prostate cancer.
With familial love, or storge, I thought it’s totally natural for parents to love their children and children with their siblings. Love isn’t simple in these relationships, though. Fights break out and both parents and children make really foolish decisions. However, no matter how many times I’ve driven them up the wall, I’ve experienced love from both my parents and siblings.
Philauthia is self-love, which can be healthy or unhealthy. To truly love yourself, you need to know who you are in Jesus Christ. That brings me to the last one, agape. Agape is a love that has no limitations or selfish motives. This is the kind of love God demonstrated to the whole world. It says in Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." This is the kind of love I know I can never repay, and it's something I believe knocks the other definitions of love right out of the park. Love is hard, it’s complicated and messy, but we can choose to show it to others every day.