Image courtesy of Ben Schonewille at

I am continuing my long-running series on the 10 positive emotions identified by Dr Barbara Fredrickson.  Previous posts in this series can be found here.  Today I am looking at love.

When “love” is discussed, especially in art, music and media, people usually mean romantic love.  That’s not the only form love takes, but we use this single word to cover a variety of situations, relationships and experiences.

The ancient Greeks did not – they identified at least four and possibly as many as eight different types of love!  Here are the four that most people agree on:

  • Agape – love within and between members of a family, and in relationship with a divine entity
  • Eros – romantic, sexual, passionate love
  • Philia – deep feelings of friendship, expressed between equals.  This word survives in our language today as a suffix – for example, a “bibliophile” is a lover of books.
  • Storge – love between parents and children

Focussing on romantic love, and its presence or absence in our lives, can mean overlooking or missing out on these other forms of love.  The love between family, friends and even for a pet can potentially be as emotionally fulfilling as the romance we usually associate with “love”.  This was highlighted in Disney’s Frozen (2013), in which characters (spoiler alert!) mistakenly assume that “an act of true love” must mean a romantic kiss.  Thankfully, they manage to save the day anyway, and learn something about love in the process.

So if you were asked what love you have in your life, what would you answer?  Do you regularly experience any of the four types described above?  Perhaps you can think of more types of love?  If you feel that love is absent from your life, what is blocking it?

Loneliness is a feeling that can result from a lack of loving relationships and other forms of friendship.  The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness has information on how they intend to address the problem of loneliness in the UK here.

If you would like to arrange counselling to explore any issues arising from this post, please contact me.