The 3 Types of Love
There are three types of love:
1) Eros love - known as "erotic love". It is based on strong feelings toward another. It usually occurs in the first stages of a man-woman "romantic" relationship.
This love is based more on physical traits. Say a person says he has "fallen in love" for a woman, because "she looked like an angel" (sheesh). Or a woman "falls in love" for a guy because he is intelligent, has good breeding, etc.
The weakness with this type of love is obvious. It is based more on "self-benefit", of what can benefit you rather than the other person. This is "I love you because it feels good, and makes ME happy loving you." See? The keyword is the word "ME".
When that person doesn't "feel happy" anymore in loving that person, she/he is led to believe that she/he has "fallen out of love". Actually, there was never "true love" in the first place. The fact is, love by feelings alone cannot be called "true love" simply because they do not know each other that much yet.
Two people feel this strong emotional attraction towards one another, though they barely really know about each other's personalities. A person usually puts her/his best foot forward, showing only her/his good side. In order to be sure if "true love" exists, two people must know and accept each others' good and bad traits.
Furthermore, they must have gone through a lot of time with each other, going through BOTH joys and sorrows, pains and pleasures, and still end up together. A lot of sacrifice towards each other is therefore essential.
It is love that is untested by hardships, and therefore may or may not last in the long-term. It may or may not develop into a higher form of love - philos love. Eros love can only succeed in the long-term if it progresses into a higher form of love. Otherwise, it will not last.
The romantic feeling common in "eros love" is natural, and an important part of a relationship between a man and a woman. Romance also plays a role in strengthening the bonds, especially at the start of a relationship. This is part of God's plan.
What we need to be careful of is assuming a relationship must be "real love" just because it is romantic, because all we feel is happiness. As with most anything in life, we must learn to use both our heart and mind to judge if something is real.
Be careful also of being in love with the "concept of love" itself, rather than for who the person is. TV. movies, media has "romanticized" so much, it is often hard to see reality from fiction.
You must love a person for her/his uniqueness, not because you simply want to feel the joy of "being in love." Such a love is concerned more with the "self" rather than the partner.
Over-relying on pure emotion without the balance of logic is a recipe for failure.
2) Philos love - a love based on friendship between two people.
It is true that two lovers that start out by being friends first before becoming partners usually are the relationships that last more, long-term.
Friendship is the foundation of a successful relationship. This is true whether it is marriage, or boyfriend-girlfriend, relationship betweeen family members, relationship with co-workers, employer, etc.
In the case of a man-woman romantic relationship, the advantage is you get to know each other first, before committing to a more serious relationship above friendship.
You start out as friends, then admire each other, then possibly strong emotions can suddenly appear over time and you both realize you miss each other more. It takes time, and is patient (love is patient, love is kind!).
This is in contrast to a man-woman romantic relationship which starts out by "eros love", meaning you get attracted by physical/mental traits alone. Strong emotions start almost immediately (some would even say "love at first sight"), though you do not even know each other that much.
With eros love, you see only each other's strengths/good side, everything is rosy, mushy feeling of happiness, etc. Again, you cannot judge "real love" between two people based on strong emotions alone.
Philos love is a love based on "give-and-take", where two people benefit each other in a mutual way. One partner is still concerned with what she/he can take, but at the same time is also concerned with her/his partner's benefit and therefore gives back in return.
Therefore, philos is a higher type of love than eros. Philos love is a mutual, "give-and take" relationship, while eros love is a self-based, form of love that is more concerned with the "self" or self-benefit.
Like eros love, philos love must develop into a higher form of love, the highest love of all - "agape" or unconditional love.
3) Agape - unconditional love
The third and highest type of love is "agape", or unconditional love.
Agape love is above philos love and eros love. It is a love that is totally selfless, where a person gives out love to another person even if this act does not benefit her/him in any way. Whether the love given is returned or not, the person continues to love (even without any self-benefit).
Say, you help out a person, even though that person hates you and curses you. Or you take insults from your partner without hitting back, all the while forgiving and praying for your partner to amend her/his ways. Or the famed "unconditional love" that a mother has for her child (her child will always be the most beautiful child in the world to her, even with a face only a mother could love!).
Or the love we show our parents, taking care of them and helping them in their old age. Just like they took care of us when we were young, it is done with or without benefit in return.
However, the highest type of agape love is not human at all, but divine - God's unconditional love for us, His children.
God's love was shown to us the most when God the Father sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ to his suffering and death on the cross for our salvation. There is no greater love than this. Jesus had no obligation to die for us, but He chose to. It is His gift, His ultimate gift.
He chose to die for us because He knew what would happen to us, to all mankind if He left us on our own. Without Jesus' death on the cross, mankind is doomed to eternal damnation, no soul will be able to enter eternal life in Heaven.
The sins of mankind (since the first sin at Eden by Adam and Eve) have become so many and so great that no man can "redeem himself" by his own means alone. Even if each person "suffered and died on the cross", it will not be enough to "repay sins' debts" to God. Only the Begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ Himself, dying on that cross for us would "repay our debts of sin".
First Corinthians 13:4-8 provides a perfect description for agape : "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
In essence, eros love is "physical", philos love is "mental", and agape love is "spiritual". Thus, it is made up of the three fundamental elements of man: physical, mental and spiritual.
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