Yes, I am actually doing this. I am writing to you about love in Valentine’s Day week. *Cringe!* But please, stay with me!
I was at a housewarming a few weeks ago having a conversation with a Frenchman and an Italian. I asked them which culture they felt was ahead when it came to romance. In my mind I was picturing images of dining at a fancy restaurant with a view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris or enjoying a gondola with one’s beloved in the canals of Venice. It’s a tough choice from the outside! So I asked the experts.
Their responses surprised me. They both spoke to the richness of their languages. You see, both languages have different terms for love depending on who, what and how that love is being expressed. For instance, how you tell your mum that you love her is different to how you tell your significant other that you love them. Language is such an important foundation when it comes to culture and how people navigate certain aspects of life, including romance and relationships.
Unfortunately, we didn’t agree on a “winner” for which country does love better, but we agreed on one thing: how limited we are when it comes to expressing ourselves using the English language.
The Ancient Greeks offer us much more diversity, and perhaps understanding…
Eros is the kind of love that fuels sexual passion.
Philia is the kind of love that explains deep committed friendship.
Storge is familial love.
Agape, perhaps my favourite, speaks to a Universal love. A love that wants to the best for everyone and everything. A love that seeks to provide the circumstances in which we can all grow and flourish.
Mania is obsessive, dependent love.
Pragma is a love in the practical sense, business-like, think pragmatic. Unions decided for political or religious reasons may be considered this way.
Philautia speaks to love of the self.
Latin offers us another word for love, that could perhaps be useful as a more eloquent way for the singles to state their intentions on their Tinder profiles...
Ludus, is the playful kind of love we know from flirting.
As much as all these new words assist us in describing the various aspects that can be embedded in the term “love”, they do little to help us move through the complexities inherent in the human experience of love. It can be messy. It can be healing. It can be painful. It can be beautiful. It can be downright ugly or downright divine.
For that reason, I wanted to offer you a couple of free tools I like to point people to in order to help them garner a deeper understanding of themselves and how they relate to others. After all, isn't that what love is?
1) Attachment Styles
One of the most accessible and insightful psychological models I’ve come across to understand push-pull dynamics in relationships (not just of the romantic variety). You can take a quiz to help determine your Attachment Style - my favourite one can be found here. It’s free and takes 5-10 minutes.
2) Love Languages
These help us understand how we prefer to communicate about our love. You can take the Love Languages quiz to see which of the five love "languages" is most important to you and yours. You can find that here.
I don’t suggest these tools as something to use to put yourself in a box. In fact, I’d really prefer you didn’t. What they do offer is a way to cultivate self-acceptance through self-awareness. From there, we can access a deeper level of compassion for self and other and grow more through our relationships.
If you take one or both of these quizzes, I'd be glad to hear from you to find out what you learned about yourself and what might have been triggered in you.
So there you have it. Many of us find V-day a tough one for whatever reason. Maybe you spent it alone. Maybe you felt like your needs went unmet. Maybe you're just a bit done with Hallmark Holidays (I feel you), but at least we got to learn something new together this year!
Happy Wellness Wednesday.
What will you do for your wellness today?
It's FINALLY here! My new meditation Compassion through crisis is ready to download. If you're having a hard time with what's happening in the world right now then I think you'll enjoy this. Some of you even contributed to the words used in this script - so much gratitude to you! The track runs 15 minutes 30 seconds and I recommend you listen once daily for as long as you can continue enjoying it. New to meditation? Want to know how best to use the track? Instructions can be found on my website here. Or just give it a try and see what you feel at the end of it.