What the world actually needs is an accurate and correct understanding of love. True love is based on understanding, mutual trust and respect. It is not an expression of mere emotions.
Love is defined in so many ways. It comes in different forms, with quite different expressions. Here I have given Five important expressions of love.
1) Parental love
It is the first one to start with. Parental love has two special traits. We can classify it as ‘unmerited’ and ‘unequal’.
Unmerited love means parental love that comes naturally from birth. For example my father and mother love me from the moment I was born, not because I did something for them or because I was better-looking or better-behaved than other children. The simple reason for their love is that I am their child. I need not do anything to win their love. This we can see when a child is ill or handicapped. Even when others blame or reject the child the parents love their child.
Unequal love means that I will never be able to love my mother or father as they have loved me. I can love them, but I cannot have for them the parental tenderness that they have for me.
2) Brotherly or sisterly love
This kind of love also can be marked by two specific traits. First, it is a love of equals. I can love my brother or sister as he or she loves me. Secondly, it is a non-exclusive love. My love towards my brother or sister does not prevent me from loving others. This kind of love is applied to larger groups, like members of a community, etc.
3) Erotic love
This is the love between a husband and wife, or attraction that people experience when they fall in love. This is an exclusive love. I can have several brothers and sisters but I cannot have several wives. ‘Exclusive’ does not mean ‘possessive’. The wife or husband is not the property of the spouse. She or he is a person with her/his own dignity, needs and rights. Thus, if a husband forbids his wife from visiting her ailing mother, it becomes possessive. Possessiveness will actually suffocate love and damage marriage and friendship.
4) Love of friendship
This is an affection or love between two or many. The awareness of being mutually close constitutes this friendship. Friends love each other, and they know that they love each other. Another quality of this kind of friendship is that it can overlap other forms of love. Thus, my father or mother can be my close friend. A man or a woman can find that their spouse as their closest friend. There can be a healthy friendship between a teacher and a student, or between colleagues of the same college, etc.
5) Filial love
This is a love of response. The children respond to the love of their parents. As we grow up, this love can be developed. It is not an automatic response but comes out of genuine love. In fact, one of the saddest things in today’s life is to see the abandoned parents, who are neglected by their son or daughter. Some times we the opposite of this also as some parents do not care about their children while they are growing.
We have also more kinds of love for example, Divine love. It is such a deep concept that our little and narrow minds cannot grasp that infinite love. God’s love is infinitely great.
Each of us is capable of all types of these loves. But it should be handled for good results. Each form of love has its own charm and challenge. God is love. We too can share His Divinity by sharing our love with others finding in them the image of God.