A fresh take on love



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Don’t underestimate the effect of emotional stress on your body: some people get eczema, some find their tummies play up, some break out in spots. If we can improve our emotional relationships with people, we can improve our relationship with our bodies.

The “cabinet of curiosities” that is Roman Krznaric’s The Wonderbox is fast becoming one of my most valid reference points for well, life. So much so that I’m re-reading it and in doing so I will share some of its wisdom with you.

The author uses history to help us refresh our perspective on common themes in our lives: love, family,  work, time, travel.

Roman on ‘love’

Looking back in time, Roman revisits how the Greeks viewed this idea, this abstract concept and intangible emotion that is ‘love’.

In a time where half of marriages end in divorce, Roman offers us an incredibly logical explanation that definitely struck a chord with me.

The Greeks believed there were six types of love:

  1. eros – sexual passion and desire. Think ‘dangerous love’, fiery, irrational and obsessive
  2. philia – the love that exists between family, friends
  3. ludus – playful affection, flirtation, teasing
  4. pragma – mature love, married love, lifelong love, compromising, showing patience, being tolerant and realistic
  5. agape – selfless love. When translated into Latin, this is the word ‘caritas’ which gives us our word ‘charity’
  6. philautia – self-love. This may be negative (a selfish hunger for personal gain) or positive: when you love yourself you will have plenty of love to give to others

We often hear about using your friends after a break-up or the importance of loving yourself first before you love someone else. We often see the destructive nature of eros, the ludus in those first few dates and the pragma between an elderly couple holding hands when they walk in front of us.

The long-lost secret is not to expect one person to provide you with all six types of love!

Krznaric explains that the concept of love has evolved, Chinese whisper-like, over centuries – but not for the better:

“We have to abandon the idea of perfection – of finding someone who meets all the criteria on our amorous wish list”.

The author uses an ingenious analogy:

“Contemporary coffee culture has developed a sophisticated vocabulary to describe the many options for getting a daily caffeine fix – cappuccino, espresso, flat white, Americans, macchiato, mocha…

The challenge before us is to adopt a new vocabulary of love inspired by the ancient Greeks…only then will we be as sophisticated in the art of loving as we are when ordering a cup of coffee”.

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