Too selfish to love

This post is response to a text I got last night:

” Think I may be selfish for always wanting love and to give love, never be away from it.

May be an imbalance of affection and attention”.

At face value, I think this is one of the most unselfish things I have ever read…but that wouldn’t be a post worthy if I didn’t have more to say about it.

I think it is worth qualifying the type of love we are talking about here, because there are different types. For the sake of the post, I’m going to take it back to the Greek:

Storge-  natural affection, familial love

Philia-  friendship or affectionate love; dispassionate, virtuous love

Éros- passionate love with sensual longing and desire

Agápe– unconditional love

While I can’t say I listed the different types from the least to the greatest, I’d argue that I listed them from the easiest to come by to the hardest to attain.  I’ll treat them each, one at time.

You can’t get away from family love. Doesn’t matter how hard you try, how mad you get at any family member. I’m famous for saying “I love you, but I don’t always like you”, and more often than not, I’m talking about my family members. Trust and believe, when it comes down to it, I will do whatever I can to make sure they are okay, whether I am near or far. Even though we don’t always agree with each other about everything, we are always there for each other when it counts. If I can’t count on anything else, I can count on that.

All good relationships, friendship or otherwise, should start with philia love. That is the kind of love where loyalty is key; friendships can fall apart over a lack of the same. For many friendships are a trial by fire. While similar interests and sharing good times are important, people tend to define their friendships by the support those friends give them during difficult times. The best friendships are balanced. A friend might tell you the truth when it is the last thing you want to hear. A friend will be there to celebrate your successes, lend a listening ear or a helping hand when you need it. They might be someone you talk to every day or someone you catch up with from time to time and despite those lags you feel like the friendship remains.

In terms wanting love and wanting to give love, these are the kind that you give everyday. These types of love might also include the love each of us can have for our fellow-man, though I know good and hell well that isn’t what my friend meant. I offer those definitions because in the absence of romantic love, those, along with love of self, love for our pets, and a generalized love for each of our fellow-men are the ones that should come to fill our lives when we don’t have either type of romantic love.

Éros can be hard to contain and maintain. As no one can control who he or she falls in and out of love with, this type of love can be pleasurable and painful. When you also consider the fact that one person’s capacity or expression of love may not jibe with their partners it can make this type of love pretty complicated. Wanting to give and receive love are in and of themselves basic human needs, but things get messy when we add those elements. Depending on how urgent those needs are, they can make us accept things in our mates and ourselves that we might not otherwise, especially when our definition of love includes the physical element.  This love may linger for one partner when it is absent for another just as it might also be stronger for one partner as in another, but should a couple be able to nurture it mutually it can be a beautiful thing.

The last love, unconditional love, is the greatest of them all. For some, a progression of philia to agape is the natural progression of a relationship, while for others, they may have some starts and stops depending on how their love grows. Some people lead separate lives -sometimes complete with families and children- until life finds a way to bring them back to one another and they realize that love never ended. Perhaps distance and time made the heart grow fonder.  This might not be the love that leads to a story book happily ever after, but it is the one that lingers.

None of these are mutually exclusive and finding the path between the last three can be a journey. No matter what, it is always one that is worthwile.

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