Welcome to this month’s Q-Wave!
In 2019 I got divorced from my wife of 17 years. We had a very amicable divorce. We have two kids. We met in PA school and I don’t wish divorce on anyone. We had a good divorce if there’s any divorce that’s good. But based on what I’ve seen other people go through it was definitely much better than most. It was mediated. It was amicable and we are now living independently and happy. But it really made me question what love is.
What is love? How does it show up in my life? How do I represent it to the world? And if I asked you what love is, how would you describe that. Is it a feeling? I feel loving. I love my boat. I love my kids. I love my dog. I love my job. What does love mean? And I studied that. I wanted to understand it and how it shows up in people’s lives. Where are we a slave to the feelings and where do we create something?
At this time, what I found is that in English, we use love to meet a bunch of different things. A lot of words and a lot of different things but when you look over at the breakdown of words there are a number of different types of love.
When I did some research I came up with this schematic where we think of one circle and in that circle you are one circle. In that circle you have Philia. Philia is self-love. It’s not unhealthy. It’s not selfishness. It’s boundaries. It’s self discipline. It’s eating right. It’s exercising. It’s building your mind. It’s saying no to indulgences and yes to things that allow you to grow. It’s saying no to toxic relationships.
Now, there are other types of love. When you look at romantic love there is another circle below that. Think of a romantic investment. You have Ludus which is lustful. This really hot, passionate love. It’s like the honeymoon phase. You have Eros which is the romantic phase. Finally, you have Pragma. Pragma is the couple that has been married for 50 years dancing at a wedding. So there are three types of love, at least how I see it, that you can project to a significant other.
Then you have Storge in another circle. Storge is the love for your kids. How you love your kids is different then how you love your spouse. Philia is how you love your friends. How I love my friends is different then how I love my kids and how I love my significant other. Now as I explore love there is also Agape. Agape is a central theme. It’s a central love that surrounds all of this. It’s the love of God. The divine, something may wait bigger than yourself. Then there is Mania. Mania is this obsessive love. It is incredibly unhealthy.
When I look at the forms of love a couple of things have become very apparent to me. First and foremost I cannot give something away that I don’t have. If I don’t have something, I can’t give it away. I can’t truly love another person unless I have some self love and that means boundaries. Discipline. It means structure. It means taking care of myself and saying no to things that are toxic for me. I can’t give away something I don’t have. I can’t give you money if I don’t have money. Doesn’t that make sense to you? If you don’t really love yourself, how can you possibly love another person?
Now let’s go back to that question and we have multiple definitions of different types of love. How does it show up in your life? Now is love a feeling. I will acknowledge you can feel loving. You can feel loving to another person. I acknowledge that you can feel loving towards another person. I’d like to submit to you and suggest in a paradigm that I’ve taken that love is a verb. It’s action. Love is a verb. It’s especially loving when I do something loving when I don’t feel like it.
Here’s the kicker. There are times that the only way I am going to feel loving is by doing things that are loving that will help rekindle the feeling of love. So, if you know anything about how I teach medicine I love mnemonics and ways to memorize content. I’d like to submit that there are five different components of love. The love SEALS the deal. S stands for service. You want to do something for others. If you do something that’s love. Scott Pack in his book The World Less Traveled said love is the will to exert oneself for another or your own spiritual growth. E is empathy. A is to affirm and appreciate. L is to listen. S is sacrifice. So love seals the deal. Love is an action.
Folks, how is love showing up in your life? Do you have self-love? What are your boundaries? What’s your agape?
Good Luck! See you next month!