On the Three Types of Relational Love and How to Integrate Them Into Your Life

What does it mean to be expressing love fully in your relationships? There are many ways to answer this question, but one answer deriving from classical sources is that you should aim to have three types of love functioning fully in your day to day interactions with others and yourself. These types of love are eros, filia and agape.

Here is a brief explanation of what each of them are in the context of relationships

Eros – This put simply is the creative spark that arises between two people or between ourselves and  something that we love. This is most commonly thought of as the romantic love between lovers which over time may lead to the biologically creative result of a baby, but it can just as validly be understood as  other forms of creativity. For example an intellectual spark between two people in a platonic relationship that inspires both of them to become more creative, dynamic and inspired in their life and work.
Most commonly this type of love is felt between a man and a woman (in a sexual or non-sexual context), because the interaction of masculine and feminine energies is an important aspect of the arising of eros. However, between two people of the same sex who both have well developed masculine and feminine energies it is perfectly possible to have a very inspiring “erotic” relationship, although this has a quite different meaning and connotation from the common usage of erotic!
Essentially to have eros in your relationships means that they are regularly supplying you with a source of creative inspiration in your life. Conversely to give filialin your relationships means to provide others with creative inspiration.

Filia – Filial love is classically the love between siblings, but it is also a common way of bonding between friends. Here the two people find strong ways of non-sexual bonding with each other that provides a source of mutual support, enjoyment and potential growth for each other. The ideal with filial love is to have the both parties on an equal footing in the relationship and a sense of mutual respect.
So, with images love the ideas is to be seeking and finding respect, support, self esteem and enjoyment from your friendships, and likewise seek to give these things to the people whom you share your life with.

Agape – One of the archetypal images of agape is the mother and child (eg: Mary with the baby Jesus), but more broadly speaking agape is empathetic or compassionate love. Agape seeks to understand and sympathize with its object like a parent caring for a child, seeking as Saint Francis would say “To understand rather than to be understood”. To give agape in your relationships with others is a wonderful thing, and likewise learning to receive it is an important source of sustenance.

So, using these three type of love as our model, our relationships should contain healthy elements of giving and receiving the following:

Eros – Creative inspiration.
Filia – Support, enjoyment, bonding, esteem building.
Agape – Empathy, compassion and healthy sympathy.

Working with these three types of love

Here are some possible ways to start working practically with these three types of love in your relationships:

  • Firstly we can simply look at our current relationships and appreciate the people who are currently providing us with these types of love in our life right now.
  • Secondly we can look for ways that we can actively increase the amount of eros, agape and filia to those we love.
  • Thirdly if it feels as if there is something lacking in your relationship with someone close to you, reflect upon which of the three types of love is most lacking. Having had an insight on this, then try and increase that particular type of love in the relationship through your actions.
  • Finally, practice agape, filia and eros toward yourself each day. Support yourself, inspire yourself, understand and have compassion for yourself!

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com

Share

Comments are closed.