Agape Love in a Relationship: Understanding the Greatest Love of All
Love is at the core of every successful and enduring relationship.
However, it is so profound and complex that saying you love someone is not enough to describe fully how you feel.
It comes in many forms, and the Greeks actually gave names to eight of them.
Agape love in a relationship is the most widely known.
It is considered the highest form of love and the foundation of lasting marriages and other relationships.
What are the characteristics of agape love? Why is it important for couples to have it?
The Eight Types of Love
It is possible for you to love one person differently from another.
You can also love one person in many different ways.
The Greeks realized this long ago, which compelled them to come up with eight ways to describe love’s different faces.
Pragma, or enduring love, comes after a couple has been together for many years.
It is born out of commitment and a sense of duty.
When you see old couples holding hands after decades of being married, that is pragma love at work.
In an arranged marriage, what started as a loyalty to the family can also grow into this type of love.
Philia is the bond developed between long-time friends or close relatives.
It does not involve any romantic attractions, but it is every bit as powerful as romantic relationships.
This level of connection is evident when a long-standing friendship ends for whatever reason.
If you lose a dear friend, the loss that you would feel would be similar to losing a romantic relationship.
Ludus is often seen at the early stages of a relationship.
It is considered fun and involves flirting and courtships.
If you see a couple teasing each other playfully or looking giddy around each other, this is a manifestation of ludus.
Some people also refer to it as the honeymoon stage, where couples could barely keep their hands off each other.
While ludus comes with no strings, mania borders on obsession.
It often leads to feelings of jealousy and possessiveness.
Some people believe that mania is not really a type of love.
Nonetheless, the Greeks defined obsession as a kind of love commonly seen in toxic or codependent relationships.
Storge is the bond shared within a tightly-knit family and, in some cases, with close family friends.
It is protective, compassionate, and deeply rooted in familiarity and early memory.
The best example of storge love is the one between a mother and her child.
A parent will do anything to protect a child.
In return, the child feels deeply grateful to the parents.
Eros or romantic love involves feelings of infatuation and attraction.
It is often displayed physically through hugging, kissing, holding hands, and more.
You can typically see eros in couples who are new in the relationship.
Over time, it develops into something more or simply fades away.
Philautia is the love you have for yourself.
It is essential in building your self-esteem and often defines how well you interact with those around you.
Most people also believe that the more love you give to yourself, the more you can give to others.
8. Agape Love
Agape love is the highest level of love and will be discussed at length in the next section.
What Is Agape Love in a Relationship?
Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, Jane Goodall—they all have one thing in common.
They have all shown the highest level of compassionate love for other people or creatures.
This is what agape love looks like. It is given freely and openly without expecting anything in return.
It is universal across faces, races, and even species.
In marriages, agape love holds the family together through many adversities.
It makes it easier for couples to respect, forgive, and serve each other in the face of different challenges.
Even when eros or ludus has faded in a relationship, agape is strong enough to keep the bond intact.
Nevertheless, for a marriage or any other relationship to be complete, it must combine the different types of love.
For families, agape, storge, and philia go well together.
For couples, agape and eros are essential, with ludus in the earlier stages and pragma in the later stages.
What Are Some Examples of Agape Love?
You may not know it, but there is a good chance that you have seen agape love at work in your relationship.
Here are some of the most common examples:
- Prioritizing your partner’s needs above your own.
- Respecting your partner even if you feel like he or she does not deserve it at times.
- Meeting your partner’s needs without knowing if he or she truly appreciates it.
- Accepting your differences without feeling any resentment.
- Being honest about issues or problems affecting the relationship.
- Listening first and not making any assumptions before hearing the whole story.
- Forgiving your partner for his or her shortcomings, even if reconciliation is not yet in sight.
- Doing what is best for your partner, even if it means reprimanding them, as long as you do it lovingly.
Every relationship needs a give-and-take for it to succeed, but agape love may seem one-sided.
You can’t force your spouse to reciprocate the agape love you are giving.
Still, showing the kind of love you want to receive will inspire your partner and set your relationship.
How To Develop Agape Love in a Relationship
All couples try their best to love each other unconditionally.
However, it does not happen naturally for everyone, and it takes a lot of work.
There are two ways that you can develop agape love in your relationship.
See the Best in Each Other
For your relationship to head in the direction you want, you must focus on your partner’s good qualities.
You should also assume that your partner has your best interest in whatever they say or do.
Doing this will help you nurture your relationship until it grows.
Give What You Want To Receive
If you want to develop agape love but do not how to, start with yourself.
How do you want to be treated? What do you want out of the relationship?
Whatever the answers are, there is a good chance that that is what your partner wants too.
It goes without saying that agape is a kind of unconditional love, as the one giving it doesn't expect anything in return.
It doesn't mean, though, that you would overlook or ignore the wrong things the other person is doing to you.
It's accepting the other person's qualities, but also ensuring you help them become a better version of themselves, while you also become a better you.