When February rolls around, we all have one thing on the brain: love. Thanks to Valentine’s Day’s fast approach, February makes us focus on the status of our love lives (or lack thereof) and what we’re going to do about it. While thinking about one’s love life is normal, people tend have one type of love in mind—romantic love. Who’s dating whom? Will I be single forever? What will I do for my significant other? These are the questions that dominate in the season of love. But why not focus, instead, on all types of love.
Classic Greek literature describes three types of love: Storge, Eros, and Phileo.
Storge is familial love, or the type of love you have for a family member. This is a type of love that isn’t by choice; it’s inherent and built within the family structure.
Eros, the root of the word “erotic,” is romantic love—the type of love that typically is capitalized on in February. This type of love is based on chemistry you have with another. Similar to storge, you have no choice with whom you have chemistry. For example, if you’ve ever met someone who is generally attractive but haven’t felt attracted to that person, you know that chemistry isn’t up to you!
In ancient Greek culture the third type of love was regarded as the highest form of love, and that is phileo love. This is the type of love you have for a best friend. What makes this love so incredible is that it isn’t an involuntary love. This is a love that you choose. You can’t choose your family members and you can’t help whom you fall in love with, but you can choose who your friends are.
Love for a best friend is unlike any other love in that you actively choose to make sacrifices for your friend. Think about what lengths you would go in order to save or protect your best friend, and think about everything your best friend would do for you. I recently listened to a speech about these types of sacrifices we make for friends, and it really put my love for my friends into perspective.
Think about how you will tell your best friend whether you agree with her choice. We sacrifice the possibility of a best friend not liking us for a while in order to tell them the truth, push them forward, and help them in some way.
The message also touched on how we put aside our ego to celebrate and rejoice when our best friends achieve something that’s better than what we have. Friends simply don’t have the competitive side to their relationship—it’s full of support instead.
The last sacrifice that we take on is that we own each other’s problems. When my friends are going through something challenging or heartbreaking, my heart breaks as well.
Every year I go into Valentine’s Day with my business hat on, and every year I end up learning something new about love. This year’s message was loud and clear to me and very timely in my own life. Valentine’s Day for me this year will be a celebration of the love I’ve chosen to give. I do make sacrifices for the love I’ve chosen. If that isn’t true love, I don’t know what is.
My hope for all of you is that you use February and Valentine’s Day to honor and cherish all types of love in your life.