Love: the mysterious case of it, solved.

(5-7Minute Read) First, there were the Greeks, then there were horny aliens…things get weird, fast.

What is love, actually?”

This question has absolutely haunted society for centuries. In the roaring twenties, some might have defined love as a connection experienced by a couple after a SMOOOOOTH swinger takes his gal to view a ten-cent movie at the drive-in theater in their brand new T-model Ford. Nowadays, love seems to be ambiguous, a word that many have attempted to find but have lost the true meaning of in their search to find it. Others might just respond by saying, 

“Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more! Oh, I don’t know why you’re not there; I give you my love, but you don’t care. So what is right and what is wrong? Gimme’ a sign!”

Although not many could fit the nature of love into a three-minute song like Haddaway in, “What is Love,” many can attest to the roller coaster feelings that love creates, including feelings of fear, panic, joy and ecstasy.

Many define love by what they believe to be true physical and emotional attraction; however, many couples who claim they are in love probably do not realize that its meaning originated thousands of years ago. Here, we are specifically going to talk about the Greeks. According to the ancient Greeks, there are four different kinds of love: Agape, Eros, Philia, and Storge.

A young couple shares hot cocoa covered with white, fluffy marshmallows. Of course, the drinks are piping hot. How could they not be? Those who are quickly passing by the couple and into the gift shop, quietly observe the silky smoke, which is slowly rising in the night air. The young girl, whose long brown hair is uncovered in the winter air, had unfortunately underestimated the cold and forgotten her gloves. She shivers while half admiring the hypnotizing Christmas lights and half laughing at the wacky behavior of the boy she is holding hands with. They look dazzlingly into each other’s eyes, and the boy notices that the girl is shaking in the frost-bitten air, “Here, take these,” he hands her his gloves as she smiles in appreciation. The girl is still cold, however– freezing, actually, but refuses to admit to it, for she knows that the boy will attempt to give away his only coat, that protects him from the cold, and will accept the painful sting of the air in his light sweatshirt in order to keep her warm. Yet, despite the girl’s guises, the brown-haired boy (who happened to remember his hat) laughs at the shaking girl sitting beside him and begins to take off his coat as she continuously attempts to stop him. He finally succeeds and places the brown coat comfortably on her, and she kisses him.

Although this short scene sounds like another ridiculous John Green novel, this type of relationship is still considered ideal by many, including the Ancient Greeks. Agape, the first kind of love, occurs when the boy selflessly gives his girlfriend his sweater. Agape is defined as, “selfless; [giving] and [expecting] nothing in return. Agape is used in the biblical passage known as the ‘love chapter,’ 1 Corinthians 13, and is described there and throughout the New Testament as sacrificial and spiritual love,”[6]. In the Agape sense of Love, you shouldn’t expect your love to be returned to you; you should love the other person unconditionally. In this way, Agape is typically classified under familial and spousal types of love [6]. In our example, the boy loves the girl unconditionally because he is willing to bear the freezing cold for her.

Wouldn’t it be nice if life really was that simple? Let’s continue our analysis.

Two aliens, who had just met on a recent excursion to Mars, decided to get married and take a honeymoon trip to Colorado. (yes I know what I wrote– let’s make this somewhat interesting people) While watching the Earthling film, Finding Nemo, the two suddenly start going at it with an impressive intergalactic makeout session. I’m guessing fish are a turn-on for aliens. Either way, this alien display of affection (ADA?) is known, by the Greeks, as Eros. Eros is a “physical, passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. [Eros is] romantic, pure emotion without the balance of logic,”[6]. It is also referred to as ‘Love at first sight’. While Eros does not have to be sexual in nature, these two aliens have just given our definition an amazing example in the most radical way. Typically, Eros is the main ingredient in the “newly-wed” feeling that many couples experience while in the first stages of their dating relationships. So hopefully things work out for the aliens; they seem so sweet. 

The third Greek form of love, known as Philia, is pronounced while observing a couple from an outside perspective or when attempting to place oneself in the couple’s thought processes, which kind of seems unnecessarily creepy if you ask me, but whatever. Philia is mental love. It represents the affection that we show our close friends. Philia is characterized by the ability to give and receive. “[Philia] is a dispassionate virtuous love. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality, and familiarity,” [6]. The young couple holds one another in high regard, and although they are in a romantic relationship, they also laugh together as though they are best friends. A true part of this form of love is companionship and respect between each individual in the relationship. I feel like me and my dog had this, that is, before she shat (shitted?) in my room. That’s just plain disrespect right there. 

However, despite my dog being a major bitch, I still manage to overlook her hideous flaws. It’s actually gotten to the point where I don’t even notice when there is diarrhea on my white-turned-brown carpet. Instead, I only look at my dog’s ears because they are cute, triangular and pointy like cartoon carrots. While I’m not sure exactly what the Greeks would call this behavior, it seems close enough to classify it as Storge. It’s when you look past the flaws of the people that you love. You value your loved-ones’ uniquenesses and care way too much about them than to worry about nominal nuances in their character or appearance. If every day is a celebration of your love for that person, then congrats because you might be the only one in existence to feel that way anymore. Wow, I’m bitter.

 In society today, love is oversimplified and manipulated into, purely, an emotional-physical attribute that anyone can turn on or off at any moment. Love is innocent, smooth, and easy. NOT THE CASE. Why do Millennial TV shows portray relationships as an any-day, throw-away type of ordeal? The idealization of casual dating scenarios and prepubescent love triangles is so unnecessary, man. It’s causing our youth to lose creativity and independence while looking at love as though it is present in any form of physical intimacy. Sorry dude, the fact that he Snapchatted you an emoji of a purple eggplant penis doesn’t mean your (‘uhhm, it’s actually: *you’re) in love. 

Is this is exactly why approximately 41% percent of first marriages and 61% of second marriages end in a devastating divorce [2]? Current generations just don’t understand what love truly means, in fact, it is debatable to say that anyone truly knows what love is.

Love has to be way more meaningful than simply showing affection towards another person or having a physical attraction towards someone. Of course, in any amount of love, an individual must find some sort of biologically-based attraction towards another person (whether it be a physical or emotional attraction). However, a physical attraction is not necessarily the same thing as love; it can’t be or everyone who has done the dirty would be in love! It might not hurt, though, to at least look into this physical attraction thing.

It might not hurt, though, to at least look into this physical attraction thing.

Having a physical attraction towards another individual is explained by fundamental biology, which reveals that individuals are naturally inclined to be attracted to a person that is physically appealing. This is for reproductive purposes. In fact, feelings of infatuation are actually the result of pheromones (or someone’s smell). However, physical attraction is distinct from emotional attraction, and it even appears to be an attribute of an animalistic characteristic because, as an individual, you are not able to control who you are attracted to. You might be madly in love (emotionally & mentally) with someone, yet still find yourself attracted to multiple people with a rigorous passion. Alien-love level, or naw? Therefore, in the biological sense, love is not actually love, it’s more like the natural inclination to reproduce with someone, often in order to further your lineage.

Want to hear something more depleting? According to the book, Love 2.0, love is nothing more than an eight-second emotion, just like rage, and joy. Love is felt for eight seconds, and after, your body relaxes right on back into equilibrium– or bitterness, whatever you call your equilibrium. It also states that just as your body naturally feels anger and joy, your body is able to feel love for other individuals, but not in the mainstream, Edward Cullen sort of way.

Rather, love is neither a biological desire nor is it an emotion. Love is an abstract process; it is, in fact, a choice [4].

I was relaxing on my couch drinking some herbal tea when I noticed the quote that was attached to the tea bag’s string. It said, “where there is love, there is no question.” At first, I was like, dude. This tea tastes bad. But then I got to thinking about that quote, and I was then all like, this quote could not be farther from the truth. Love should be questioned. A relationship without questioning, without arguments, is also a relationship without stimulating conversation, adventure, and exploration. How could anyone know with certainty that their partner loves them unconditionally, without question, without questioning everything they know to be true about relationships and love itself? You have to ask questions to find certainty… Question the man, question the can of spam, question your grandma’s hand-carved ham, damn, why didn’t we have lamb? Probs because that’s really freaking inhuman(e). I tried. 

So what the hell is love, then? Let’s stick to the Greeks on this one: Agape, Eros, Philia, and Storge. 

Yes, love is founded on physical and spiritual connections, but it’s also way more than that. Love is a choice; it is the choice; choosing to love is also choosing to give your entire physical, mental and spiritual being to another individual as a gift— a gift in which you expect nothing in return. Love is sacrificing your greatest, most precious desires in order to make the other person happy, even if only for a moment. Love is painful and beautiful and makes you and I cry and laugh because it’s a recently planted sprout that develops into a beautifully nourished flower over time. Love is not immediate– it can’t be. Love does not give into temptation. Lovers appreciate, lovers argue, lovers do not stray away from what they truly believe is their soul-mate. Those who are in love do not stray away from what they truly want for a seemingly better option. They realize the value in what they have, they believe in mending tears and breaks. They have an undying dedication to the person they are with.

So for those who still question, What is Love? like that old catchy tune, know this: love is not complicated if you do not make it so. Refer to the Greek definitions of love and further the concept from that point. When you love someone you value them completely; you give yourself freely to them and expect nothing in return (Agape); you value them physically and mentally while truly appreciating their worth as a human (Eros); you are loyal to them and want to make them as happy as possible by expressing your dedication to the relationship (Philia). Finally, you admire them so deeply that you overlook any minor flaws that they may possess– in fact– you may love them for their flaws, and thus, you respect them and what they have to say regardless of whether you agree or not (Storge). 

I will end this post with an Earth-shattering quote by Judge Judy: “Don’t hook your star to a loser!”

Author: R. Lederman. Nov. 22, 2013. Please Cite author and website when using information from this essay. Thank you. Copyright 2013-Present.

Works Cited

  • [1]”Definition of Love.” Urban Dictionary. Urban Dictionary, July-Aug. 2013. Web. 2 2013. <;.
  • [2]”Divorce Statistics.” Information on Divorce Rate Statistics. US Census Records, May 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2013. <
  • [3]”Divorce Statistics.” Information on Divorce Rate Statistics. US Census Records, May 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2013. <;.
  • [4]Fredrickson, Barbara. Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Think, Do, Feel, and Become. New York: Hudson Street, 2013. Print.
  • [5]”What Is Love? Lyrics.” What Is Love? Lyrics Freak, Feb.-Mar. 2007. Web. 06 Dec. < is love_10140001.html>.
  • [6]H. Liddell, R. Scott. “Greek Words for Love.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Nov. 2013.06 Dec. 2013.

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