Classical Greek philosophy and Catholic theology teach that there are four types of love – Eros (erotic & passionate love), Philia (a platonic love between friends), Storge (love between family and relatives), and Agape (God’s love for us, and our reciprocal love for God). Though love can take many forms, I would like to simplify it to a working definition from St. Thomas Aquinas: Love is the choice to will the good of another. Take particular note of the words choice and will; it requires a conscious decision and repeated effort to love.
I firmly believe the greatest thing a man can do is have the courage to love without compensation or condition. That is, to love selflessly – for what else were we made for? Keep this in mind: One cannot love what one doesn’t know. Therefore, it is necessary to go deep.
How is a pair to develop their relationship by going deep? Share experiences – good and bad. Open up and become vulnerable; give them the knife and trust they will not stab you in the back with it. Suffer together! Be loyal, support them, spend quality time together, tell the truth, and never fail to be yourself. Share your failures and mistakes. Guide them, protect them, and help them cultivate Virtue.
I have a few practical insights before I conclude. Remember that it is our responsibility to love ourselves, or choose to will our own good. Sometimes in life, the best thing you can do for somebody is to leave; some relationships can do more damage than good. Even though we are all called to love, each one of us has an individual life mission. Make sure to protect your time and energy – do not lose sight of your unique contribution to this world. And for Heaven’s sake, do not be afraid to love – the way you are treated is often more a reflection of who they are as a person than your own deficiencies.
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