We need to change the way we approach love

Don’t buy into the myths.


Selah Tennberg

Love isn’t a day of the year.

Raymond Vasquez, Guest Writer

What is love, really?

I mean, we hear about it all the time, whether it’s in movies, songs or here at Westmont. We have our Westmont WOWs, but what does it really mean when someone says “love”?
Well, that is a really hard question to answer. The problem when talking about love is that it is almost impossible to consider what the word means from every perspective. To make the situation worse, people use love in so many different ways. I’ve heard people describe how much they love a type of food and then say that they love their significant others. Unless I’m misunderstanding, one might hope they aren’t talking about the two in the same way — otherwise there is going to be a very awkward conversation later.
So how do we define love? I asked that question years ago. I decided to try to research different ways love has been described to see how I could apply it, and I was astonished by how many different definitions exist for one word. Something that was really interesting to look into, oddly enough, was how the Ancient Greeks viewed what love means.
To them, love had eight forms, all different but connected: Eros, or erotic love; Philia, or affectionate love; Storge, or familiar love; Ludus, or playful love; Mania, or obsessive love; Pragma, or enduring love; Philautia, or self-love; and finally, Agape, or selfless love.
The Greeks defined love in many different ways, but two definitions hold particular relevance to us today: Philautia and Agape. The Ancient Greeks understood that, in order to care for others, we must first learn to care for ourselves. Philautia is self-love in its healthiest form, unlike the self-love that obsesses over vanity and self-obsession and focuses on personal fame, gain and fortune. The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that “all friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.” Because of this understanding, it is impossible to share what one does not have. If you do not love yourself, you cannot love anyone else, either. The only way to be truly happy is to find unconditional appreciation for yourself.
Finally, the last type of love is Agape, better known as selfless love. This type of love is not the sentimental outpouring that often passes for love in our society. It has nothing to do with the condition-based affection our sex-obsessed culture tries to pass as love. Agape is what some call spiritual devotion. It is an unconditional adoration, a boundless compassion, an infinite empathy that is bigger than ourselves.

It is an unconditional adoration, a boundless compassion, an infinite empathy that is bigger than ourselves. ”

This love is the purest form of connection free from desires and expectations regardless of the flaws and shortcomings of others. Such love can be found in the love that God has for us. His love transcends all and allows us to always know that, regardless of imperfections, we have a connection, even in our darkest moments.
So you might be asking yourself: what is so important about learning about these forms of love that don’t have any relevance to today? I challenge that argument. Because of these distinctions, we can learn that in order to truly enjoy Eros–erotic love–we must also search for greater depths through Philia, or affection, and cultivate Ludus, our playful love. All the while, we learn to avoid unhealthy, obsessive love or Mania as our relationships mature. Through these efforts, we will find Pragma, that enduring love, in our soulmate relationships. Finally, through the power of Philautia, healthy self love, and Agape, selfless love, we can understand how amazing our human hearts really are.
Counterintuitively, our hearts increase rather than decrease the more they give to others.

To us, in today’s world, we obsess so much over love, wondering when we will find our soulmates. However, attachment is not as simple as “finding the one.” A lot of work needs to be put in to find and sustain a relationship. Loving yourself is the first key to sharing that connection with another. So don’t stress yourself out so much in trying to find a relationship. Just be yourself, whoever that may be, and you will find someone who will see and appreciate the real you. I know I worry about that a lot for myself, but I know the time for that will come.
That being said, know that you can’t force something to happen. Instead, focus on that self-love and know you are perfect just the way you are. There isn’t anyone in the world that is like you, so know your value and never let anyone tell you otherwise.
Now, this idea may be easy to say and harder to apply, but the importance of loving yourself could not be more understated. It is very easy to find flaws in yourself.  But everyone, no matter how perfect they may seem at first glance, has cracks and flaws.  Those imperfections  do not make you damaged or defective.

Today’s society promotes the idea that we need to strive to change and be better. We watch as how celebrities or social media influencers that we hold up as role models look and live. We want what they want and try to look like them.

However, there is a significant danger in doing that. You risk losing who you are while trying to become something that you believe you should be. Why would you want to be anyone other than yourself? You are perfect and unique, unlike anyone that is, ever has been, or ever will be.

Instead, I urge you, as someone that struggles with this exact same issue every day, to learn how to love yourself and allow yourself to shine in your own way. The cracks and the flaws in you truly make you a masterpiece unlike any the world has ever seen.


Opinions expressed in letters and other editorials, unless otherwise stated, are those of the writers and not of The Horizon staff or the college collectively.

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