It’s famous that the Greeks have many words for love where we have just one. My favourite distinctions are Eros and Agape. Eros – we all know what that is, but Agape? Agape is the unselfish compassionate love which just wants the best for people.
I found this distinction very helpful when disentangling myself from my marriage. It allowed me to understand that without sex, Eros is not what is being experienced and that Eros is required for married love if it isn’t to become just about family, conventionality and convenience. When I could accept that it was not about Eros for us and never had been at all for him; I could stop resisting, trying to force it … I could turn my love for my husband into Agape.
This lack of acceptance in prior years had turned me sour – closed my heart and accepting it immediately opened it again. Now our relationship is simply the best divorce you can imagine.
Now Agape is the guiding principle of my life. It’s not perfect – a work in progress and I am as prone as the next man to find myself so irritated by someone that it’s hard to love them – but most days my heart simply brims with love for my friends, my family and my work colleagues.
And then Eros comes along. And in the worst circumstances. A married man. My track record here is poor. As mutual Eros has eluded me my whole life I was desperate for it to work out. I became obsessed. horribly anxious. I recognised in him a similar marriage to my own and shared my experiences to try to short cut the 4 years it took me to reach that conclusion myself. It didn’t work . He’s gone back to her. My heart is broken once again.
I. who assert love to be a guiding principle of my life, do not want him to be happy without me. Try as I might and I know she has completely different qualities to mine which is partly why he was unable to chose, I cannot love his wife either.
Such is the selfishness of Eros.