What is Love?

One of the most google searched questions of all times is, "What is Love?" Obviously people want to know. And granted, it's an elusive idea. There is love for children, love for parents, love for spouse, love for country, love for a good meal.

But what is the meaning of love when it relates to our primary love relationship? Girl-friend, boyfriend, fiancée, spouse or, in my case, my wife of 37 years, Teresa.

I grew up in the '70's with a very popular movie called, Love Story. Out of that movie came a statement that has been panned since and you can see why. The statement was, "Love is never having to say you're sorry." Really? So, love is never having to apologize, never having to ask for forgiveness? I think John Lennon had it closer to the truth, "Love is having to say you're sorry about every five minutes."

I'm half Greek on my dad's side. The Greeks have had six or seven words throughout their history for love, three of which have become very well known. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle popularized the first two of these words. Plato coined the term eros which was initially defined as sexual love. Later he broadened the term to include a more general meaning, love of beauty, for example.

Plato's disciple, Aristotle, promoted another term to describe love, philos. Philos is bro-therly affection, friendship, support. Philadelphia is the city of brotherly affection.

Still later, another word gained popularity, agape (a·gáp·?). Agape is a selfish love, an unconditional love. The early Christian church picked up on this word and used it primarily as a description of God's (unconditional) love for people. It was also used between people such as Jesus' famous challenge to, "Love your neighbor-that is: Agape your neighbor as yourself."

What are the English equivalents for these terms? We get fairly close with three words that I will set on a triangle (which I'll describe in my next article). The word for philos is intimacy (I) -affection, support, concern, sharing. The word for eros is passion (P)-ardent love, sexual desire, romance. The word in English that I would say is closest to agape is commitment (C)-going the extra mile, unconditionally loving someone, being whole-heartedly devoted and loyal.

In the next many articles we will look closely at these three terms-intimacy, passion, and commitment-and how they relate to our primary love relationship.

Why are these terms so important? If your relationship is going to grow in love it is crucial to have an solid understanding of each because I can guarantee you that most men, and most women come at their relationships with a very different perspective of what each term mean, how it they can be the critical building block in our relationship and what to do when partners see things from a very different perspectives.

In the next article I'll address not the love triangle-that's quite a different issue!-but the Triangle of Love.

To help you remember the three ingredients.
Valentine Day's Three Most Popular Gifts
Unwitting Celebrate the Three
Ingredients of Love
Flowers: the beautiful connection of intimacy.
Chocolate: the decadent sweetness of passion.
Wine: the time-tested vintage of commitment.

Moving ahead with the one you love:

How would you define love?

How do the three ingredients of intimacy (philos), passion (eros) and commitment (agape) help you to define the depth of love?

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