I spent the weekend in the South visiting old friends, some of whom I haven’t seen for nearly 8+ years and yet, such love and warmth, so much laughter and welcome, such easy reconnection and recollection.

And isn’t this love?

I’m a notorious connector of and with people.  If I like you and think of you as a friend, I’m unlikely to let that fade.  I’m a keeper-in-toucher, a text-letter-voice-messager, a ‘just checking in-er’ a ‘you ok?-er’.

Friends, family, people matter.  I have based my whole work life around people not only in the work I do, but how I do it, prioritising relationships over promotion, fitting work around my kids, working flexibly so if a friend is free I can chose them, so that I have time to connect with people and connect people with each other.  It is absolutely what matters most in the world to me.

I remember once, at the end of my marriage, feeling bereft and lonely, scared and vulnerable, feeling like all the love in the world was lost with that relationship.  I was sitting with a cousin, sharing this, when it suddenly dawned on me that I was sharing with someone who loved me, and had shared with others who loved me and could suddenly see all the love that there was in my life that I was missing because I was hyper-focused on a particular kind of love.

I think the Greeks had it right with their 7 kinds of love:

Eros: romantic, passionate love – erotic, sexual, embodied, invoking longing, desire, carnality but with the possibility of transcendence through physical union. Esther Perel talks about the erotic as being the desire for life, the desire to feel truly alive in ones self and in relationship

Philia: intimate, authentic friendship showing loyalty, equality.  Involving intimacy, trust, soul-to-soul connection, sharing core values, having things in common, wanting the best for the other person, freedom, honesty,

Erotoropia or ludus: playful, flirtatious love, playful banter, laughing, dancing, teasing, suggestive, seductive, lightweight, undemanding, curious, like at the start of a relationship or between friends

Storge: unconditional, familial love like love for one’s children: committed, might sometimes be one way such as a mother and baby or a child caring for a dementing parent, empathy, tolerance, acceptance, familiarity.

Philautia: compassionate self-love, self-worth, self-compassion, self-care…can flip into selfishness if overdone

Pragma: committed, companionate love, like in a long marriage or relationship, enduring, long term shared goals such as raising a family, learning to compromise, sharing, supporting, rooted, values based compatibility, making it work, riding the storms, making sensible choices for the good of the relationship

Agápe: empathetic, universal love – love for nature, animals, the love of a view, a place, a piece of music or art that moves you, love for the world, God, life.  Loving without wanting anything in return, selfless love, universal, transcendent, acceptance, unconditional positive regard, love without condition or expectation, love for humanity in all its frailty, the kind of love that feels expansive, for me it is linked to feelings of awe, wonder and joy.

So this Valentines day, remember that Valentines day is just a cynical, exploitative, manipulative marketing ploy to get you spending money.  It fits none of the above notions of love because, to paraphrase Transvision Vamp, ‘we don’t need your money honey, we need your love’.

So rather than focusing on what you don’t have, focus on where the love really is in your life, right here, right now and screw all that Valentines crap.

If you enjoyed reading this please share it with friends. You might also be interested in talking to me about coaching , or maybe try some of my online courses (some are free), or treat yourself to a climate protecting pamper with vegan friendly, organic Tropic which supports the planting of forests and education in deprived areas.
Thanks for being here.