Writer: Gabriela Fannia Artist: Fletcher Aldous
If you’d ask anyone what ‘love’ is, you’ll mostly get positive, cute-yet-cringy definitions of it. But ask someone who just went through a major breakup, and they would give you a whole new set of gut-wrenching definitions of ‘love’. No matter how long, how serious, or how intimate the relationship is, a heartbreak is still a heartbreak. The level of ‘pain’ is (arguably) relative, but that’s not the point here. The point is, it is something we would choose not to go through if we had an option at all. In extreme cases, many don’t believe in love anymore, just as darkness is the absence of light, that solitary feeling after a breakup is the absence of love.
The question is, does love disintegrate after difficult times such as a breakup? Definitely not. Love does not always refer to the emotional feelings you have with a partner. Did you know there are different types of love – 4 basic ones, to be exact, all written in Greek? There is Eros, the romantic love we share with a partner, the most familiar one. And then there is Philia, the love for friends and equals, built by a special bond. Another one is Storge, the irreplaceable love of parents to their children, caring and empathetic. The last one is Agape, a godly love that is unconditional and omnipotent.
But wait, somethings missing. Where is the self-love? Isn’t that the most important one of all? It is important, but practically, self-love, otherwise known as Philautia, is difficult to experience when you’re within the abyss of your life (read as: a breakup). That’s why you require other kinds of love too.
All facts aside, we’re still convinced that Eros – the romantic kind of love is often deemed as the hardest one to face. Admit it, we always find ourselves searching for tips and tricks on how to overcome the mess Eros left on us. It’s normal, we need a constant reminder of what to do, to pick up the pieces of a once shattered us.
Here are some tips on what we can do when Eros takes a toll on us, a reminder that we are never short on love – any kind of love in that matter.
Be Great and Grateful (Philautia)
Everyone likes being complimented, it’s a way we self-validate. Having a partner does make you feel great, and when they’re gone that confidence drifts away, but it doesn’t have to! Understand that you are great, with or without them. You were great even before he/she/they were in the picture, that is probably why they wanted to be with you in the first place. Think about the things you like about yourself. It’s not narcissism, it’s self-appreciation. You don’t have to find anything overly prestigious about yourself, it could simply be, and as random as you liking your clean nails, how you look good in a plain white t-shirt, or your hidden calligraphy skills. Realising these points show you don’t need someone else to point out your forte. And with that, you can keep building yourself, as the prominent saying goes: make yourself great again!
Seek Spirituality (Agape)
This is an important one. You could be a devoted Christian, or into Astrology, believing gods and goddesses, have spirit animals, whatever it is, take note that you don’t necessarily have to be very religious to seek spirituality. Knowing that you have Agape in your life just means that you acknowledge that there are a lot of things that are out of your control, including breakups. Having Agape in your life reminds you that love will always be free and unconditional. There is no religion, or a belief system in this world that wants you to fail in life, think about it. This may be though to comprehend if you don’t believe in anything, in fact, it could be the most unexplainable type of love. Either way, doesn’t mean you can’t experience Agape in your life. It’s there for you, and it could be anything, anything at all that you can’t see or touch, but makes you feel loved.
Reconnect with your People (Philia and Storge)
Relationships with friends and family are something people tend to unconsciously put aside when dating. It’s normal, we all need to allocate our precious time to things that are a priority, and it’s part of the commitment of seeing someone. Most of the time, Philia and Storge doesn’t feel as fulfilling if Eros is in the picture. However after a breakup, you’d realise you are missing out on a lot. You start to miss the love and affection you receive from your family, your peers. Your best friend’s offensive jokes that do not offend, your little brother’s headbutt, those cheeky kind of love becomes nostalgic. Philia and Storge are the most accessible types of love, it is literally all around you. Use that down-time after a relationship to reconnect with valuable people in your lives, send them a funny meme, get some Thai dinner, or invite them for a sleepover. You won’t even realise how their presence and affection means a lot to you, for some, it can become the best medicine for those breakup blues!
Find Someone New (…potentially a new Eros)
Pain. should. be. temporary. And you don’t have to dwell in it. Honestly, the best remedy is to start going out again. You won’t magically meet anyone if you cry yourself a river every night, listening to Kodaline’s All I Want – no really, don’t do it, it’s too sad. Most times after a breakup, you aren’t ready to ‘mingle’ and that’s fine, take your time, but don’t withdraw yourself from new opportunities. You’d be surprised how fun it is to start again from zero, when the early butterflies flutter. If it doesn’t work out, then who cares, as long as you’re enjoying the entire process again. It’s always liberating to pop out of that exclusive bubble you had with a partner, and discover the many interesting people you haven’t met. If it goes well, you’ll be able to re-experience the whole Eros again, and who wouldn’t want that?
Whatever type of love you are missing right now, remember that there are other types of love you so deservingly can get. Some are easier to obtain than others, but all are available for you to experience. Take these types of love as valuable pieces of yourself. It is up to you, to recollect the pieces when one seems lost.
If you’d like to learn more about the four types of love, Eros, Philia, Storge and Agape, they are beautifully introduced and discussed in the book “The Four Loves” by C.S. Lewis. A highly recommended read!