Colours of love

Love comes in many flavours. What they have in common is connection and our humanity.


Philippa Richardson

Pip is a Transactional Analysis psychotherapist and creates our service. Through her training and life experience - 3 families, 3 continents, 3 careers (law, marketing, psychology) - Pip has come to see how we all write our own life story.

Love… the burn of passion. A colleague's hand. A bowl of chicken soup when you’re sick. Love comes in many flavours. What they have in common is connection and our humanity.

Love can be an emotion, varying in intensity from low-arousal (relaxed, calm) to high-arousal (excitement, passion, the melting sensation of “making love"). If we're in touch with our bodies, we can feel it.

And I think it's bigger than that. The ancient Greeks thought of love as coming in 7 different shades:

  • Friendship: Philia, shared goodwill. For mutual benefit - the stuff of many business relationships - and for companionship. Real friends relate authentically and teach each other about their limitations and beliefs.

  • Romantic love: Eros. A connection of mind, body and soul. Desire and passion with respect, connection and appreciation.

  • Lust: Ludus. Dancing, flirting, sex. Detached emotionally. The focus is on fun or conquest, not friendship or connection.

  • Familial love: Storge. With enough time and understanding it's the nearest to unconditional we get. Born out of familiarity and trust. May be unilateral or asymmetrical or inter-dependent. In the end, it does not hang on our personal qualities.

  • Duty: Pragma. A practical union founded on reason and long-term interests. It may be the basis of arranged marriages and, although unfashionable, remains widespread in some cultures.

  • Universal love: Agape. The love for nature, a higher power, and for strangers. Also called compassion, altruism or charity. An unselfish appreciation, care and concern for the welfare of people and things other than ourself.

  • Self-love: Philautia. Unhealthy self-love is hubris; seeking to be one-up, above others, above human experience or the greater good. Healthy self-love is self-esteem; our realistic and positive appraisal of our own worth as equal to any other human. With self-love we may suffer but aren't diminished long term.

Which have you experienced in your life? And which do you want to experience now?