“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

 C.S, Lewis – The Four Loves

Late last night saw me creeping around the house preparing surprises for ‘all the men I live with’ (aged 47, 14, 12 and 9). I wanted them to wake up to a surprise – and they did. The hardest part was waiting until they were all asleep so I could play ‘Valentine Fairy’. I didn’t fall asleep until 2 am myself. And I suppose…. that is LOVE!!

Today is Valentine’s Day. My Swedish mother-in-law calls it the Day of All Hearts instead (Alla Hjaertan’s Dag in Swedish). She feels that this is the day for telling everyone we actually love that we love them. I like her version better because I am aware that Valentine’s Day is actually a very difficult day for some people. It would be lovely to think that by dropping the ‘romantic angle’ absolutely everyone would receive a card and chocolates (or at least a HUG!) today.

I remember talking to my children once, when they were much younger, maybe three or four years old. They were OUTRAGED at the notion of loving someone and then one day stop loving them. They said that “Love is a Forever Feeling’ and no one could convince them of the opposite! (The word ‘divorce’ did not exist in their dictionary, nor did the words ‘falling out’).

Russian is the only language I am aware of that names the feeling you have for someone ‘you used to lave’ but no longer do today: it’s the soft ‘blurred’ feeling of recognition/mild affection that refers to an emptiness or space in your life that does not ache/hurt.

Разлюбить  (verb)

  1. не любящий больше – ne lyubyashchiy bol’she

“not loving anymore” in Russian

Razbliuto (noun)  =  the sentimental feeling you have for someone you once loved but no longer do.

The ancient Greeks had five words for love

ἐπιθυμία – EPITHUMIA –  DESIRE, in its most negative aspect this becomes ‘Lust’. When this is not mixed with other forms of love it becomes selfish and self-centered. Epithumia is what ‘gets politicians into trouble’ and it is the inspiration for a certain genre of   ‘racy airport & beach novels’.

ἔρωςEROS  is physical passionate love that involves desire, longing. In our culture it has acquired very sexual connotations (our word ‘erotic’ is derived from the word EROS) but in ancient Greece this was not the case. Eros is stronger than ‘philia’ (friendship type of love) and it has connotations of ‘appreciating BEAUTY: appreciating the beauty of a person and, by extension, appreciating beauty in its own right. Beauty is related to SPIRITUAL TRUTH. In other words: great longing and desire, sensual love, ultimately lead us back to the beauty and pure love of the transcendental plane. In the original meaning Eros is as much about Beauty and Truth, as it is about love & desire.

στοργήSTORGE means AFFECTION in both ancient and modern Greek. It is natural, flowing, obvious, used in ancient Greek texts to refer to relationships within the family. It extends to ‘putting up with things’, wrapping love around situations not of one’s choosing, not to one’s like. Fortitude and endurance come into it.

φιλίαPHILIA has a more ‘rational’, detached, dispassionate quality. It is the affection of friendship. There is give and take in this kind of love. It also includes loyalty to friends, family and community. This type of love requires virtue, commitment.

ἀγάπηAGAPE is “love in a spiritual sense”, true unconditional love. It is selfless, it gives but expects nothing in return. It is given even when no love is ever received in return. There is no benefit to self. In ancient Greek this word is used as a verb (s’agapo –  I love you) for the love a parent feels for a child, or the unconditional love of God for human beings.

While we are on the subject I will also mention PLATONIC LOVE: Eros starts off as strong feeling for a particular person. However over time that can transform into a seeing the beauty of a person’s soul and ultimately an appreciation of Beauty itself in all its forms. So Plato did not think physical attraction was a necessary part of all love. This is how the word Platonic came to mean (love) “without physical attraction”.

The ancient Greeks believed that a marriage needs all these five different types of love for a marriage to be successful and long-lived. If agape is missing – a marriage or love relationship won’t last. I was discussing all five forms of love with my husband at 7 am one morning. He said: this sounds like a full time job to me, will we have time for anything else?!



Imelda Almqvist



Apostle Paul – “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8)