As Valentine’s Day approaches and shops begin to showcase a blinding array of pink, red and white, I always take a moment to remember why February 14th is my favorite day of the year. It’s never the candy or the cards or the French kissing — instead, it’s the love. Valentine's is a day solely dedicated to the extravagance of love, and a hopeless romantic such as myself should be easily enamored with the pizzazz and flashiness of the affection-filled holiday.
Although, that’s not why I find Valentine’s Day so important. Yes, I think love is the most amazing thing on the planet; however, it is the celebration of love that causes me to brim over with happiness at the simple thought of February 14th.
I would argue that love, whether giving or receiving, is perhaps the greatest feeling in the universe; yet, why should love be celebrated just one day a year? Love, which I often find very difficult to define, is a powerful force that has many intricate nuances. Love is so nuanced that the Ancient Greeks separated it into four different types. I firmly believe that experiencing all four types of love within someone’s life is important for spiritual growth and emotional happiness.
Storge – The love of community and family. Storge can be described as the type of attraction between a mother and her children, very close friends, grandchildren with their wiser, much older grandparents. Storge, at its very core, is unconditional. This type of love can be seen as the most recognizable between spouses who are best friends—committed, understanding and sacrificial in all aspects of their romantic life.
Philia – The love of friendship. Philia is often compared to brotherly love (its name lending to the city of Philadelphia) or the love between friends. Originally conceived by Aristotle, philia is often romantically neutral and is instead focused on the connections between friends, lacking the passion seen in agape or eros. This type of love can be seen as a very high form of respect and openness between loyal friends.
Eros – The love of emotional intimacy and sensuality. When people hear the phrase “I love you,” this is most frequently the type of love associated. Eros is a powerful, sexual love that is often expressed through physicality and passionate emotions. While a relationship, in its early stages, thrives off this type of love, eros requires the presence of the other 3 types of love to be truly sustainable.
Agape – My personal favorite type of love. The love of humanity and all living things. Arguably the most reverent type of love, agape is defined as a strong, persistent love for those around you, despite flaws and shortcomings. In a more spiritual sense, agape can been seen as the goodwill between one another and the love for our fellow humans.
As every Valentine’s Day rapidly arrives, I always wish that love will not be perceived as just sexual, passionate love between those in relationships. Rather, I hope and urge others to focus on all four entities of love: storge, agape, philia and eros. Love, while clearly complex, is such a beautiful and amazing concept that intertwines people of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, cultures, environments and upbringings. So, as you tackle this magical celebration of love, remember the people in your life that may not be at the dead center of your sexual affections—instead, this Valentine’s Day focus on your friends, family, returning war veterans, families in homeless shelters, your dog—anyone. Finally, I urge everyone to celebrate community, friendship, and humanity not only because love permeates all these realms, but also because I believe love can change the world. And changing the world through love seems like a pretty cool thing, wouldn’t you think?
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.