When you think about love, several things might come to mind. Falling in love. The feeling of love. Saying or being told, “I love you.” While all that may seem normal, you might find it interesting to know that there are many unique and very specific types of love that all express themselves quite differently.Unfortunately, far too many people will go through life not really knowing much about these different loves. In my opinion, not understanding them can very well be the very reason why relationships, more often than not, are so incredibly challenging—and even fail.
Unfortunately, far too many people will go through life not really knowing much about these different loves. In my opinion, not understanding them can very well be the very reason why relationships, more often than not, are so incredibly challenging—and even fail.
Not being clear on your emotional expression can be quite detrimental to both you as a human being with successful relationships and also as an actor striving for a successful career!
Think about it: actors communicate words, actions, and emotions. And just as important as knowing the correct emotions to communicate during scene work, if you’re not communicating the correct expression of love, your communications and relationships with your fellow actors can easily be weakened or even worse, misrepresented.
To help bring a little more clarity to all of this, I’m going to consult with the ancient Greeks who seemed to have had no problem at all defining the multiple kinds of love. Besides, they’re the ones who gave us acting and theater in the first place!
Below you’ll come to learn precisely what type of loves there are, how they’re most commonly expressed, and some movies that are closely associated with them. I encourage you to not only read but also to study the contents of this list. So the next time you’re in a scene—or in real life—you’ll have a better understanding of which expression of love is more appropriate.
1. Eros: Love of the body
Eros the being was the Greek god of love and sexual desire. Eros love is defined as divine beauty or lust and is mainly based on sexual attraction. Eros can be romantic, passionate, and fiery—it’s where the term “erotica” comes from. This love burns extremely hot and burns out extremely fast.
Think: passion, romance, sex
Watch: “9 1/2 Weeks”
2. Philia: Love of the mind
Philia, also known as brotherly love (as in Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love”), represents strong loyalty and camaraderie between brothers in arms and friends sharing strong emotional bonds with each other. This is the sincerest form of platonic love. Philia can also be associated with the feeling of loving your sibling or best friend. To the Greeks, philia was more cherished than Eros.
Think: kindred spirit, friendship, mates
Watch: “Saving Private Ryan” (or just about any good war movie)
3. Ludus: Playful love (emotion)
Ludus is the youthful, fun, playful kind of love that’s often accompanied by flirtation, butterflies, and giggling. Young love. Most modern romances start with Ludus, better known as the “puppy love” stage. Social activities with friends can also be associated with Ludus; cutting up, bantering, laughing, even dancing.
Think: youthful, innocent, fun loving
Watch: “Where the Wild Things Are,” “500 Days of Summer”
4. Pragma: Longstanding love
Pragma is the unconditional love between a married couple or extremely close friendships developed and tested over time. The true commitment that comes from understanding, compromise, and tolerance. Pragma only grows over time and requires a profound understanding between two people who have been together for many years.
Think: mature, respected, mutually beneficial
Watch: “The Notebook” (the older couple)
5. Agape: Love of the soul
Agape is the selfless, unconditional kind of love, the love for humanity. It’s the love we find in a healthy, functioning society. To the Greeks, agape was the highest and most radical form of love. The love you give without expecting anything (including sex) in return. Agape is commonly reflected in all charitable acts. It’s the compassionate love that makes us sympathize with, help, and connect to people we don’t know. Agape is the love of divine truth, that accepts, forgives, and believes the best with no strings attached!
Think: God, divine, pure
Watch: “Pay It Forward”
6. Philautia: Love of the self (soul)
Philautia is the empowering kind of love we give ourselves. Self-love in its healthiest form. Philautia is essential for any healthy relationship as we can only love others if we truly love ourselves and we can only care for others if we truly care for ourselves. The ancient Greeks studied this love very close and actually divided philautia into two kinds: the one just mentioned and the one that’s purely selfish and seeks pleasure, fame, and wealth often leading to narcissism. It’s a fine line.
Think: self-importance, value, esteem
Watch: any superhero film
7. Storge: Love of the child
This is a love of kinship and familiarity, without physical attraction. Storge is associated with the love parents naturally feel for their children and vice versa. It’s based on natural, effortless feelings of affection. Storge is the love that knows forgiveness, acceptance, and sacrifice. It’s the one that makes you feel secure, comfortable, and safe. Childhood friends are a good example.
Think: innocence, family, care
Watch: “Super 8”
8. Mania: Obsessive Love
This love stems from a person possessing an extremely low self-esteem and attempting to have another fulfill their emptiness inside. This person wants to love and be loved to find a sense of self-value. Mania is the type of love that can lead a person into madness or obsession. Because of this, they can become overly possessive and jealous lovers, feeling as though they desperately need their partners. Codependency is a common outcome of Mania.
Think: overstimulation, fixation, insanity
Watch: “Fatal Attraction”
Defining love can help us discover which kind we need to give more of and which kind we want to receive. In real life, if we incorporate Eros, Ludus, and Pragma into our relationships and Agape, Philia, and Storge into our lives, we will reach Philautia which will result in living a happier life. Learning about and understanding these different kinds of love as the actor can inform, clarify, and empower our character development and scene work. Become a better actor by learning how to truly love...correctly!
Clay Banks is a former Fortune 500 business and life empowerment coach, motivational speaker, acting coach, and consultant. He’s presently a recurring Master Coach at SAG-AFTRA Headquarters as well as a guest Master Class Auditioning Coach with the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Hollywood. Banks owns Clay Banks Productions & Studio International (CBSI) where he conducts ongoing on-camera acting classes and actively produces. Every Wednesday night at 7 pm PST, 10 pm EST, CBSI live streams a 20-minute TED talk-like power teaching exclusively for actors. Clay just completed an extensive on-line certificate-acting program, Technicalities of On-Camera Acting. If you’d like more information about Coach Banks’ Business Month teachings, in person or online, contact him at Info@ClayBanksStudio.com.
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