Lusty Ludus to practical Pragma: 6 kinds of love every human needs to feel fulfilled
Here’s where to find it…
Instagrammable photos of sunset in Santorini, feta cheese, and that little thing called democracy — Greece has given the world plenty of things to be grateful for. But perhaps the country’s most loved export is love itself. While the Greeks identified about nine different kinds of love, Canadian psychologist John Alan Lee further filtered them down in his 1973 book, Colors of Love: An Exploration of the Ways of Loving. He categorised our most valued emotion into primary, secondary and tertiary buckets, ascribing each a hue.
Like red-hot Eros, whose bhakts spend their whole lives trying to find passionate romance that will set their hearts and loins on fire even when they’re 69.
But we’re here to tell you that Eros is a thunder-stealer, that guy in a group presentation who does 20% of the work, but smooth-talks his way to taking all the credit. Thanks to his flashy style, we pay considerably less attention to stable, practical Pragma or slow-burning Storge.
Some scientists believed that gender and social conditioning played a crucial role in determining how individuals experienced the different kinds of love. A 1989 study by Stanley Woll found that “the only loving style which showed clear gender differences was Eros, on which males scored significantly higher than females.” Lee himself predicted that men would identify more strongly with the lustiness of Ludus. It’s worth noting that most of these conclusions were undone by later studies, so don’t let tired gender roles define you.
Just like the seven kinds of rest that humans need to feel completely refreshed, we need equal helpings of these six kinds of love to feel complete. Scroll down to find out which of love’s buckets may need refilling.
The six kinds of love and how to nurture them
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Like Sima from Mumbai, this guy takes over everything he touches and announces that it’s his arrival and expertise that will cement your relationship. Eros, is the sexual, ‘erotic’, or passionate love that’s filtered down to the modern construct of steamy romance we all recognise. You know that honeymoon phase in your courtship? That’s Eros creeping up between your legs. If you’re lucky, he’ll be making guest appearances throughout your long-term relationship.
The good news, if research is to be believed, is that many silver-haired couples who’ve celebrated 30 years and more of togetherness identify with Eros. “This might seem counter-intuitive if one equates eros with sexual attraction only, or with limerence. However, the Love Attitude Scale items for Eros emphasise passionate devotion more than sex. Perhaps it is not surprising that long-married, happy couples would endorse statements like, “We are meant for each other.”‘
Tweak recommends: Talking to your partner about experimenting sexually to heat things up.
Philia: authentic friendship
In contrast to the passionate yearning of Eros, Philia is about fondness and appreciation of the other — Philia dosti hain. This could be the foundation for Eros to strike, or simply the platonic friendships that you build out of wanting what’s best for the other person — goodwill. The basic difference between Eros and Philia, is choice — romantic love tends to be fuelled by desire, reason (or choice) floating out of the window. But Philia is about making the active choice to allow someone into our inner circle.
Tweak recommends: Cement your friendships by adhering to the eternal commandments of female friendships.
Love them or hate them, you can’t ignore your family, especially since our first ideas of love come from them. Storge is that familial bond that ties a parent to their child, allowing mothers stay up at night calming their little monsters.
Dr Kirtly Parker Jones of the University of Utah, explains, “It’s often transient behaviours that wouldn’t be tolerated in philia love. For example, women can continue to love their children despite truly awful behaviours that they wouldn’t tolerate in their girlfriends or their spouses. It seems to come unbidden in the care of a newborn and it grows to allow us to love our children despite their behaviours.”
Storge is not learned, it’s innate — but for it to last beyond your teething years, it involves actively working on forging stronger bonds. Looking beyond familial expectations, and viewing your family as individuals who make mistakes.
Tweak recommends: Get a dose of storge in motion via this heartwarming story of forgiving your parents.
Covid-19 locked us in our homes for over a year. When we came back out into the real world, we felt one of two feelings — an intense love for strangers, the random people we saw on the streets, or an urgent desire to get away from them. Agape, is the former — affection for strangers, or universal love.
No, flirty Frenny, it doesn’t just mean swiping right on everyone on Tinder because ‘everyone deserves love’, it’s more to do with unselfish concern for other people. A deep respect for humanity. The ancient equivalent of altruism, if you will. According to Psychology Today, “In the short-term, an altruistic act leaves us with a euphoric feeling, the so-called “helper’s high”. In the longer term, altruism has been associated with better mental and physical health.”
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Ludus: playful, flirtatious
Remember that first crush you had when you were 13? The butterflies in your stomach? The euphoric high you felt when he pinged you on MSN? The crushing devastation you felt when he said, “Sorry wrong message” — yup, that feeling of infatuation is rooted in Ludus.
It’s all that the friendly neighbourhood Roadside Romeo is indulging in when he calls you his Princess, and leaves you on read, Seenderella. Ludus isn’t all bad, it’s casual, exciting — it’s what you get when you’re in a fling with someone. And of all the kinds of love, this comes without any eros or philia attachment. Just as long as you’re both on the same page of the Ludus.
Tweak recommends: Let the stars lead you to Ludus and beyond, as we decode the biggest dating mistakes your zodiac sign makes and give you tips on how to avoid them
Pragma: committed, compassionate
Let’s explain it simply. So you met a guy, you felt real Philia (friendship love). One day, sparks started to fly with said guy and you started to flirt (Ludus). Like Monica and Chandler, you went from best buds, to best buds in bed, sowing the seeds for Eros. And just like the two went on to have a loving committed, wonderful marriage, you crossed the threshold from Eros, to Pragma, and started to make plans to expand your family and embrace storge (familial love).
Pragma is enduring love. It’s the love that lasts, even after Eros has left the building.
And that my friends is why, and how you need all six kinds of love in your life to feel complete.
Tweak recommends: Before you commit to Pragma, have the 8 uncomfortable conversations every couple should have before getting married