By February 7, 2012 Read More →

The Definition of Romance: Love, Agape, Eros, Phileo

Romance is a word that has been used in society by different people for different views on the subject of love. Love and romance are often used in the same context or the same sentence to describe the same thing, but in fact they are not the same thing at all, though there is a relation between them. The definition of romance according to the dictionary is “ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people; a love affair”. This confuses and intermingles the words “love” and “romance” a bit too much, and has led to a mindset that is harmful to many relationships, because it causes people to think that without that “special feeling” all the time that they are not in love anymore.

To get a better understanding, we should look at how “love” is used from ancient languages which have much more nuanced meanings for most words than English does today. The definition of romance should probably be something more like “special time taken by two people who are in love to concentrate specifically on their relationship”.

In Greek, love has several different versions and meanings. These are evident in many ancient writings, but most notably in the Bible. In the Bible the two most common uses of love are agape, meaning unconditional love, and phileo, meaning friendship or companionship. The other two Greek terms for love are eros, which is the romantic version, and storge, which is affection or fondness through familiarity. If you were to place them in order of importance or strength of bond, they would fall with agape being the most important, followed by eros, phileo, and storge. Eros most closely relates to the definition of romance, bu it is agape that is the most important and should hold precedence in a marriage or relationship.

The Bible never mentions the term eros, and since it is considered to be the most important writing in history, that is worth noting. Even in the Song of Solomon, which is a romantic poem written between husband and wife, agape is used as the definition of romance. Agape means the kind of love that is unshakable, unconditional, and never changes regardless, and when we are talking about romance, it is often just a feeling, or a “high” that comes and goes as conditions change. God loves us with an agape love, and this is the kind of relationship we should strive for as well. Eros should really be incorporated into human agape love as a part of it and not a separate type.

We have to remember and re-introduce the idea into society that love is and action, not a feeling. This is where the definition of romance muddles things. People today think that they have to always feel warm and fuzzy about someone to be in love with them, but that is not realistic regardless of what movies and books try to tell us. To have a healthy and real romantic relationship requires a commitment, with love being a verb that you do over and over, not reducing it to just sex but to every action, thought, and word between you and you loved one. When  you truly love someone, it is apparent in your behaviors, whether you are “feeling” the romance or not.

Posted in: Love and Romance

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