Men: Here is your annual reminder—Valentine’s Day is Sunday! Yes, February 14th will arrive with love in the air, but what kind of love exactly? The Greeks defined love in various unique ways, differentiating among philia, eros, storge, and agape love. If you’d like to learn more about those, I encourage you to dig a little deeper into the subject, but for today’s column, I’ll break them down into more relatable terms and keep it brief—in consideration for the poor husband out there who has just now been reminded of the upcoming holiday by my first sentence and needs as much time as possible to procure a gift for his sweetheart!
I’d like to consider for a moment four types of love most of us will experience in our lives. The first love many of us experience is the love of family. We receive this love unconditionally as children when our parents care for us and often after many years, the tables are turned and we may find ourselves loving and caring for our parents, without condition as well. That is a strong bond, a deep love. And though a precocious youngster once told me, “I love my brother, I just don’t like him very much,” (A lot of truth in that!), there is still that familial love between siblings which can be quite unbreakable as well. It is true we cannot choose our families, but we can choose to love the ones we’re given, and most of us do.
Next, comes a love for a sweetheart or a spouse. You know, the one that gives you those butterflies in your stomach? This romantic type of love is again very important and paramount to our lives, but best left for another topic, another conversation, on another day.
Thirdly, I hope you find in your hearts a love for your fellow man, for a stranger in the street or for a neighbor in need. This is perhaps the love most easy to give, but still so lacking in our world today. We discuss the many ways in which we can show that love many times throughout the year which should tell you the value I place—and we should all place—upon that love. To borrow a cliché, “it’s what makes the world go ‘round.”
But finally, there comes yet one last type of love. Love for a friend. This, I believe, is actually the rarest form of love to be found. If you think having friends and keeping them is easy, then I expect you haven’t yet experienced this rare form of friendship love. It is so very hard to develop this love because it is strictly voluntary. We’re given families to love, we’re attracted to a romantic love, and we (should) feel a sense of duty to love our fellow man, but when two people form a friendship, they do so without force. And, quite frankly, as unlovable as we can all be from time-to-time, it’s a wonder such a thing as friendship love even exists—but it does. Look around and within and you’ll find these hidden gems—friends you love and who love you in return. And despite all the pink hearts and red chocolate boxes, I hope you’ll remember your friends this Valentine’s Day. They truly are treasures in our lives far rarer than we realize. For with the love of friends, every day is Valentine’s Day. All my best to each of you!