In the popular 90's song by singer Haddaway, would sing to the tune of: “What is Love?” As we begin the month of February, and Valentine’s Day approaches, many individuals from all ages may be wondering how, where, and with whom they may celebrate this popular holiday. Showing different expressions of love is not limited to this one day of the year. Love is an act(tion) that is available 365 days a year. Some things to question when thinking about the topic of love are: where did Valentine's holiday originate, what are four types of love that exist, and what are the five love languages?
There are many potential origins for what popularized Valentine’s Day. One
….speculation is that there was a Roman Priest named Valentine from the third century who wrote a letter of affection while in jail to a young woman he had befriended. He signed the letter “from your Valentine,” and was later martyred on February 14th. Another contributor to the fame of this holiday was when Shakespeare mentioned February 14th in his plays Midsummer Night's Dream and Hamlet. The superstition during that time was that if you met someone on the morning of Valentine’s Day you were likely to marry that person. In more recent times, Valentine’s Day became part of the mainstream culture when at the beginning of the 20th century Hallmark mass-produced cards which helped launch the commercialization process of this holiday.
After gaining awareness of some of the events that inspired the observance of Valentine’s Day; each person has the right to decide if this is one day in the year to demonstrate an extra amount of love towards someone else (or one’s self) or if it’s just another day on the calendar.
According to Greek culture, four types of love exist. The four types of love are Eros, Philia, Storge, and Agape. Eros is known as “sexual or passionate love.” Philia is the “love of friends and equals…brotherly love (sisterly love).” Storge is the love parents have for their children. Lastly, Agape is seen as the unconditional love that God has for mankind. The act of love, or the celebration of Valentine’s Day, therefore is not limited to Eros' love for a romantic partner; love is also a powerful feeling for family members (chosen family), friendships, and all those who inhabit the planet Earth and now outer space.
Upon knowing the four different types of love that exist, one can also learn the five different ways of giving/receiving love. A marriage counselor named Dr. Chapman wrote a book called “The Five Love Languages” where he explains the five different expressions of love that exist (Gordon, 2023). The five love languages are: “words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and gift giving” (Gordon, 2023). Words of affirmation means using words to illustrate one’s affection and adoration they may have for someone else (Gordon, 2023). Quality time is the act of being intentional and present in the way you spend time with someone else (Gordon, 2023). Physical touch is the demonstration of fondness one has for another person by holding someone’s hand, giving a hug, giving a kiss, and so forth (Gordon, 2023). Acts of service are the way one can assist someone else with a favor or with something they believe the other person would appreciate assistance with (Gordon, 2023). Gift giving is the effort and time put into giving someone else an item they hope that person will enjoy (Gordon, 2023). One learns with time which is their dominant love language that they are fluent in, and are capable of learning/recognizing the other languages.
Succeeding the understanding that love is an infinite definition, a person can turn both outwards and inwards in their practice of love. By loving yourself, you are more equipped to be able to love someone else. Christian author Joyce Meyer said, “If you don’t love yourself it’s impossible for you to love others. You can’t give away what you don’t have” (Meyer, 2023). Knowing traditions (ex. Valentine’s Day), definitions (four types of love), and expressions (five love languages) are some steps forward in understanding more about what love is.
For more tips, please check out our other tips here: https://www.plantationcounseling.com. You can always find us at 954-903-1676 for counseling services.