I almost didn’t make it here. I was this close to becoming a reader, instead of an author. Vicky’s piece has been waiting patiently in the wings for my half to come join it for days now.
Why? I felt it would be far too literal of us to jump into the month of February with some rehashed advice on how to spend your Valentine’s or how to be happy single, or with a piece telling you love need not be celebrated only on one holiday of the year, but in small ways, daily.
But then that put me in a rut, because how do you talk about love without being clichéd?
In the month when flower companies calculate the extra red rose orders, and Hallmark says a bunch of Hail Marys that boys choose a handwritten card over an e-greeting, I ask you to shoot Cupid with an arrow of your own, and tell him to chill while you get real about the non-romanticized, practical, “everydayness” of the L word.
I think we can all agree there are different types of love. What the Greek categorized as agape, eros, philia and storge essentially addresses all the hues of our red-tinged topic this month. Allow me to paraphrase, and summarize them to the best of my understanding and ability.
Agape—This is what I call “God love.” Faultless and unconditional. Pure and monumental. Healing. Without a crease, obstacle, or doubt.
Eros—The type of love that makes you want (and need) to understand the world through and with someone. Empowering and exploratory. Curious and intense. Love that lends the concept of “beauty” the weight it deserves.
Philia—One for the homies. The love that drags you out of bed to make sure your friend has company on a night that matters to them. Loyal and persevering. Reciprocated and steady. Comfortable, familiar and something that isn’t riveting in its power, but a crucial foundation.
Storge—Familial love. Affection by osmosis. “I don’t have to like you, but I love you” type love.
But can you tell me: is one better than the other?
I know the instant reaction may be to say “God love” (agape) is the most ideal, and the love your Mother gives you, for example, is incomparable; but is it enough?
I encourage you to attract all types of love. How? I wish for you to recognize the different people and situations in your life that lend you experiences in giving and receiving, on all frequencies of this crazy emotion. The emotion that songs are written about, movies are based on, people live for, people die because of the lack of. The emotion that keeps people doing what they do, despite the obstacles life throws in their path.
This month—and heck, let’s carry this into March and beyond—let’s imagine each type of love as a cylinder. The agape cylinder, next to the eros one, beside the philia and the storge cylinders. Fill each one up according to how much of it you have in your life at this moment. Color them as to how intense or important they are to you. Bright yellow? Sure. Gray? Fine. Only you know what is truly appropriate.
Now, check your levels.
Is one less full or vibrant than the other? Probably so.
Do you care about filling or maintaining vibrancy in one more than another?
I know many people are comfortable (and slightly complacent) about the love they get from friends and family, and are really only looking for someone to curl up next to them on movie nights. I also know many people who have an intense and communicative relationship with a significant other, but can’t seem to really address issues with the siblings, or with parents.
You want to know a secret?
Find yourself in love—and by this, I mean discover the types of love you already have in your life. Recognize the type of love you allow yourself to experience. See where you sit in the middle of your four-cylinder gauge, and lean back and kick your feet up. Relax. Why? Because awareness is the sole activator of self-implemented change.
All you need to do to attract the best love for you is to recognize and glow in the love you already have. Let the Universe, God and yes, even Cupid, do the rest of the work. Where you are now is where you ought to be, appreciating fully what exists.
But keep an eye on those cylinders that you want filled.
As Valentine’s Day flirted its way into our week, I am wondering how I can possibly write another column that tackles relationship advice. I am no guru, and at the age of 24 I know I still have a lot to learn on the subject itself.
But I do know one thing. When it comes to love, we all ask tons of questions: “How can I find the perfect partner?, How can I get someone to like me?” The question I hate the most: “Am I good enough for ______?” (Side note: Yes, you are good enough, and don’t you ever question your worth again.)
There is no step-by-step recipe to cook up a love fest. Instead, I look to myself and come up with ways to be in love on my own.
I remembered this phrase during my most single days and said to myself, “It sounds pretty cool. I’ll be in love every single day.” No matter what, I said, I shall keep this feeling within me.
Looking around for things to fall in love with becomes a habit the more you practice. Being single forces you to focus on your wants. It’s a good time to look for things you love about your life. So take the time to truly discover your own little loves, from the intricate coffee foam designs, to taking photos of clouds. What are the simple things in life that give me happiness? Now, choose that.
The only opinion that counts is your own. It’s okay to decide for yourself what you really like without the pressure of agreeing with someone else. No guilty feelings of not having the same music or fashion tastes. Accept yourself by taking the time to own your likes, dislikes and decisions. I think it’s about time we stopped pretending to be someone else, in order to be loved. Don’t believe the lie that you aren’t good enough. Tell yourself the truth, and own it: You’re awesome.
The more I filled myself up with things that made me happy, I found myself wanting to pass this positive feeling on. A great way to truly be in love is to share the feeling. Pass it on. Treat someone out for dinner, listen to a friend, donate your clothes to a place that needs it. Just start small and work your way up to whatever feels more comfortable. The possibilities are endless.
When I look back on the times I felt love the most, and actually attracted the right kind of person into my life, it’s when I really didn’t focus on the romantic type of love but on being and feeling love no matter what. I had to remind myself there is always something to feel good about. (This takes practice!)
Maybe I just had to stand up for the things that I believed in. Maybe I needed to be more authentic to myself. Maybe I needed to be more grateful of the things around me. And maybe once I’ve mastered that, life will send me someone who is perfect for me.
Let me know what you think.
Sending you love from the pages of this newspaper,