The Four Loves We'll Experience At Different Stages Of Life

The Four Loves We'll Experience At Different Stages Of Life

It doesn’t matter if you’re single or dating, married or separated. Love, true love, can heal all wounds, bring new life, and take us to places we never dreamed of.

Written by Evie4 min read

"Love." No other word in the English language better represents the purpose of our existence. Since the beginning, the subject and act of love have fascinated the human race above all else because it’s the most universal experience that ties us all together. If we didn’t feel the love of our parents shortly after birth, we would literally die.

We don’t just want it, we need it.

The Effects of Being Unloved

As we make our way through life, collecting wounds and scars as we go, we begin to see just how powerful the effect of the love we received (or didn’t receive) in our youth has on every aspect of our lives. Many women who were neglected by their fathers search for love in unfulfilling ways from the wrong kinds of men.

Turning Away from Love

Suddenly, we begin to grow weary of love. Because how can something that has only brought so many of us pain be the thing we so desperately desire? And so we shut it out. We don’t allow it the chance to hurt us anymore. We decide we are in control. We don’t need marriages that end in divorce and families that lead to broken homes. We deserve pleasure, not misery. There’s no need to get attached.

How can something that has only brought so many of us pain be the thing we so desperately desire?

But inevitably, the loneliness comes, despite our best attempts to deny it. From disappointing nights spent scrolling our feeds in bed to the gaping emptiness no amount of social validation or sexual encounters can fill. Until one day, we can deny it no more: Hook-up culture is making us miserable. “Enough is enough,” we say. “I deserve better than this. We deserve better than this.” And so we search for more. But as we begin to look for love in a culture consumed by lust, we start to ask ourselves…

What Is Love Exactly?

Somewhere between the childhood neglect and our first broken heart, between every rom-com and the last man who never called, the definition of Love, the real one, was lost. We’re given unrealistic expectations from movies, depressing depictions from TV shows, and misleading definitions from women’s magazines. To sum it up, our culture has stripped love of its depth and purpose down to mere infatuation and sexual acts primarily concerned with selfish pleasure. So, what is love?

Love is willing the good of another person.

What does that mean? It means wanting and doing what’s best for the person. But there are two distinctions.

Interested Love

  • This is the most common love, the love that wants the good of another person for yourself. You love his personality, his values, his looks, etc. and you want to have him to yourself.

Disinterested Love

  • The more perfect love, the love that wants what's best for another person, regardless of your own desires or personal cost.

There Are 3 Phases of Love:

  1. Emotional Love (driven by feeling)

  2. Volitional Love (driven by the will)

  3. Selfless Love (driven by a desire to do what is best for the beloved for his sake, regardless of the personal cost to you).

Since February is the month of love, we invite you on this journey to discover, or rediscover, the four kinds of love. What they are and what they aren’t, the happiness they can bring, and the sorrow they can leave behind.

The Four Loves

I. Familiar Love (Affection)

What it is: Affection is the most universal and instinctual of all loves - a familiar love - such as the love we have for our family and our pets. This is the love in which our experience seems to be the most similar to that of animals.

Why We Need Affection

It's the most instinctual because it's the most needed from birth to survive. As a child grows, it's the affection and validation of the father that becomes so vital to their psychological health and emotional strength. Neglected daughters develop the infamous “daddy issues,” and scorned sons can spend a lifetime battling insecurities from a lack of self-worth.

II. Friendship

What it is: Friendship is - in not at all a derogatory way - the least “natural” of the loves, the least instinctive, the least organic, and the least necessary (in the biological sense). Friendship must be about something. Those who have nothing can share nothing. The ancients thought it was the most fully human and happiest of all the natural loves, but the modern world seems to ignore it. Few value it because few genuinely experience it. Some might not even call it a love.

"Friendship must be about something. Those who have nothing can share nothing." - C.S. Lewis

But the co-existence of Friendship and Romantic Love should help people realize that Friendship is, in reality, a love, and even as great, though different, as romantic love. If you're fortunate enough to have fallen in love with your best friend, you do not only get to journey through life seeking the same truth and the same beauty, but you get to quite possibly experience every form of love - Friendship, Romantic, Emotional, Sexual, Familiar, and Selfless love (Charity). What a beautiful thing that would be...

A true friend wants what’s best for you.

What it isn't: Rom-coms often paint a warped picture of the trainwreck "best friend" who encourages or supports the protagonist in doing the wrong things because "that's what good friends do."

Except, it's not. A good friend would want what's best for you. They wouldn't support decisions that have negative physical or emotional repercussions.

"Friendship makes good women better and bad women worse." - C.S. Lewis

III. Romantic Love (Eros)

What it is: Eros is the love between the sexes, the emotional state of being “in love.” It’s also the most fleeting and mortal of all the loves. It can be passionate, temperamental, jealous, and all-consuming.

What it isn't: Love is not infatuation, a short-lived passion for someone. People who very quickly "fall in love" tend to be infatuated with the person's looks and personality, but for shallow reasons. People who fall quickly also tend to be in love with the idea of being in love, as opposed to actually loving the person.

There are two components to Romantic Love - the emotional and the erotic - although a romance can exist with or without sex.

Emotional Love

Emotional love is one of the most intense feelings we can experience. It can be fleeting, or it can last a lifetime, depending if the other Loves are present. Strong Emotional Love carries the potential for great pleasure and great pain.

Erotic Love

In marriage, making love is the completion of the bond, the most intimate and pleasurable expression of love for the other. Oxytocin, the same bonding chemical between a mother and child, is released when a couple has sex. Nature placed that chemical in us to bond the partners together for the stability and protection of the possible future child.

IV. Charity (Selfless Love)

What it is: The highest form of love and the greatest of all the virtues. The natural loves are all called to become perfect Charity and also perfect natural loves.

"There is something in all of us that cannot naturally be loved. We can be forgiven, pitied, and loved in spite of it, through Charity." - C.S. Lewis

How to get it: Doing good acts for people who are difficult or people you don’t particularly like is one of the most direct ways to attain perfect Charity.

3 Stages of Charity:

  1. We resist doing bad things. Vices block charity. The more our charity increases, the more we want to turn away from doing harmful things.

  2. We are proficient in doing good to grow in selfless love. We experience a continual desire to want to become better.

  3. We prefer charity above all things.

“I must be willing to give whatever it takes to do good to others... willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me, and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.” - Mother Teresa

Proper Love of Self

Having a proper love of self helps us to look past ourselves. Charity rightly orders and perfects self-love.

What it isn't: Selfish Love - when we love ourselves in a disordered, excessive way. So many people are obsessed with themselves and are in constant pursuit of disordered, selfish love. Only when they’ve exhausted their attempts at happiness do they realize self-love is ultimately unfulfilling, both emotionally and physically. Charity helps us love ourselves because we are creatures of Love. To love ourselves is to seek the things that are truly good for us. And yet, we must be detached from ourselves; otherwise, we’ll never truly be happy.

From all of us at Evie, we wish you a Loving and Happy Valentine’s Day.

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