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8 Forms of Love and the Feelings Associated with Them

Defining “love” can be exceptionally complicated. For a word with so much energy and feeling behind it, we do not use it sparingly.

Today, we use this one word to include anything that may evoke the feeling of appreciation, longing, or acceptance. However, the Greeks recognized love as having eight unique forms:

Eros – erotic love

The name itself comes from the Greek god of love and fertility. This form of love is fueled by sexual arousal, euphoria, and impulse and is very primal and physical.

Feelings associated with eros:

Euphoria, delight, bliss, ecstasy, infatuation, affection, craving, lust, pleasure, romance.

Philia – affectionate love

This form of love is felt among close friends or those who share profound connections and have overcome hardships together. Aristotle described philia as a “dispassionate, virtuous love.”

Feelings associated with philia:

Loyalty, camaraderie, empathy, care, protection, respect, devotion, warmth, appreciation, trust.

Storge – family love

Almost identical to philia, storge is a love shared amongst family members—primarily parent and child—or anyone you view as a member of your family, such as a lifelong friend.

Feelings associated with storge:

Acceptance, appreciation, care, protection, warmth, admiration, comfort, compassion, pride, fago (Ifaluk): A unique emotional concept that blurs the boundaries between compassion, sadness, and love—a strong sense of future mourning for someone you love and fear to lose.

Ludus – playful love

Almost every youthful relationship is born out of ludus—the giggling, flirty, butterflies-in-your-stomach type of love.

Feelings associated with ludus:

Gaiety, amazement, ecstasy, carefreeness, attraction, euphoria, joy, delight, enthrallment, nervousness.

Mania – obsessive love

This is the most dangerous form of love, and arguably not love at all but a form of madness and selfish obsession with another. This form of “love” presents itself when an individual lacks self-compassion and emotional security and seeks to find it within the affection of another. If the same mania is not reciprocated, this could lead to jealousy, possessiveness, or violence.

Feelings associated with mania:

Jealousy, helplessness, desire, infatuation, insecurity, tension, attachment, discontentment, craving, hysteria.

Pragma – enduring love

Just like a fine wine, pragma is a love that takes years to develop and typically gets stronger and richer with age. In cultures where arranged marriages are common, couples may not have fallen in love or loved one another at all in the early stages of their relationship. However, they may have developed pragma with dedication and commitment over the years.

Feelings associated with pragma:

Appreciation, compassion, comfort, happiness, contentment, respect, trust, empathy, devotion, care.

Philautia – self-love

To give love to others, we first must love ourselves. Philautia is not narcissistic or egotistic but a self-compassionate love allowing us to accept ourselves for who we are, supporting us in becoming the person we want to be. When we can have a deep connection and appreciation for ourselves, we can show unconditional love to others—reducing judgment and hostility and avoiding mania love.

Feelings associated with philautia:

Compassion, gratitude, appreciation, acceptance, calmness, comfort, curiosity, happiness, joy, eudaimonia (Greek): A sense of fulfillment and prosperity; a content state of being happy and well.

Agape – selfless love

The highest and purest form of love; an unconditional love associated with a benevolent god, spirit, or universal source. This infinite compassion and empathy are often described by those who have faced their mortality, had a near-death experience, spiritual awakening, or in many cases, been influenced by psychedelics. With agape, there is no hate or animosity towards anyone or anything but an unabating acceptance and care for all that exists.

Feelings associated with agape:

Nirvana, adoration, amazement, ecstasy, euphoria, bliss, peace, comfort, contentment, devotion. Most people who have experienced agape say no earthly words come close to describing it.

Are All Forms of Love Healthy and Emotionally Intelligent?

While most forms of love positively impact our well-being and connection to others, there are three which are potentially problematic or dangerous that you should watch out for.

Eros (sexual love) and ludus (playful love) are both fueled by physical attraction.

Although ludus is playful, it still poses the threat of unrealistic expectations, hurt feelings, and poor decisions if we are not careful. As ludus transitions into eros, the same lack of awareness and care can lead to infidelity, and potentially long-term consequences.

Neither ludus nor eros are intrinsically unhealthy. It is only if we get carried away in the euphoria they often bring that problems may arise.

Being emotionally intelligent allows us to enjoy the intense feelings of passion and pleasure safely. We know these strong emotions may wear off over time and we can keep our impulsiveness in check to avoid potentially negative consequences.

And finally, mania. As already discussed, this is arguably not love at all but an unhealthy dependency and need for acceptance and approval of another. It displays a deficit in emotional intelligence due to the individual’s lack of self-awareness, self-compassion, self-management, and warped perception of reality.

If someone you know fits the description of mania, the best thing you can do for them is to empower them to find acceptance for themselves. Unfortunately, none of us can be forced to see or accept things we aren’t ready to. All you can do is be a model for them.

We can unlock all these forms of love by starting with philautia (self-love), because we can only give others what we have, not what we lack.

Which forms of love do you experience or express the most? Share with us in the comments below.


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