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Love comes in many different packages…

As Valentine's Day approaches, think about how you use the word "love" in your life. You love your partner, your children, friends, and siblings in different ways. What is the meaning behind these affections, and why do our loved ones make us crazy (in good and bad ways).

Photographs: iStock

Text: Lyndsay Jensen

Love. It's a word that some of us use a lot. "I love that colour you're wearing." "I LOVE pizza." "I love you more than anything else" to our young grandchildren. Yet, some of us never feel comfortable using the word out loud at all.

As we approach Valentine's Day, we should think a bit of the different kinds of love. Some are good for you and great for your health, and some have the opposite effect. The Greeks recognise four types of love, and there is a Greek word for all of them.

Eros: erotic, passionate love

Eros is erotic or sexual, or passionate love. It's often all about need, and it's more about the person who's feeling sexually attractive than it is about the person who is the focus of that love or thing that is the focus of that love. It is addictive, can cause great joy and sorrow, and is not always healthy.

Philia: love of friends and equals

It can be the love between lovers when they've been together for a long time, and the fire is not burning as bright. It's also called brotherly or sisterly love, and it is the accepting love of good friendship. This is the love that is good for your health. People in loving relationships have fewer doctor visits, shorter hospital stays, less pain, and more positive emotions. These positive consequences of philia love and loving friendships make us more resilient when hard times arrive.

Storge: parental love for a child

This is parents' love for their children - it is described as the most natural of loves. This love is never-ending, and no matter how tired you are from sleepless nights or find your child drawing on your white new walls – we forgive them unconditionally. Although, in many ways, it's probably a genetically programmed and hard wired love compared to the affectionate love, philia.

Agape: love for your fellow man or woman

This love is modelled on belief and faith in God. It's the love given but not necessarily returned – it's love without any self-benefit. The Buddhist tradition is the central foundation of loving-kindness for all mankind. This kind of love is essential in the process of forgiveness. Forgiveness is vital to your health because the inability to forgive is associated with built-up, unreleased anger, which can negatively affect your health.

Whatever shape or form of love you decide to celebrate this Valentine's Day, we hope you enjoy it to your fullest!

Happy Valentine's Day from all of us to you!

"The best love is the kind that awakens the soul; that makes us reach for more, that plants the fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds. That’s what I hope to give you forever." - Noah from The Notebook
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