I am aware that what I am about to write could be a cop out....I hope it is something more than that.
I have been talking with a friend recently about the word love. He has a podcast called 'I Love You Man', which explores ideas about male vulnerability, the feminine side of being a man, and of men expressing their non-sexual love for their male and female friends.
I actually find the idea of telling another male friend that I love him to be confronting and difficult. In spite of this there are a few men who I have told that I love them, and they have returned the phrase to me.
I find the idea of telling a female friend that I love her with that same kind of love to be currently beyond my capability. The English word does not actually seem to allow for the simple expression of connection without the connotation of something more.
As I ponder this I start to wonder if at least part of the problem is to do with the fact we only have one word for love in our language. Many people would be aware that the ancient Greeks, for example, had six words for love, all with very specific meanings, conveying many of the different elements contained in our single word:
- Sexual love (eros)
- Deep friendship (philia)
- Playful love (ludus)
- Love for all (agape)
- Longstanding love (pragma)
- Self-love (philautia)
The words I want to use to express the love I feel towards my male and female friends are Philia and Pragma love - long-standing, deep friendship love.
If I had more specific words for the feelings I wanted to convey, would I be more willing to tell those I loved that I loved them; to let them know the kind of love I had for them?