About this time last year, I was working for a publisher in North Carolina. This business seemed to have a special relationship with the local children's hospital; we often did things for them on holidays. Around Valentine's Day, some admins left supplies on our conference table so we could make valentines for children in said hospital.

As some colleagues and I worked on valentines one afternoon, a thought struck me. This is what I wrote on my valentine:

Roses are red, But violets aren't blue. That poem makes no sense, But someone loves you.

My goal was to make the recipient smile, and I hope it worked.

On Valentine's Day, we typically focus on the love shared by romantic partners. I think just about everyone wants this type of love--it's part of being human. But I think we often overlook other important types of love and the roles they play in people's behavior. This Psychology Today article describes seven different types of love (who knew there were so many?). I think if you dig deep enough, you can find some form of love that's motivating human behavior in any fictional or real-life situation:

Eros (romantic love):

  • The love triangle of King Arthur, Queen Guenivere, and Sir Lancelot in Arthurian legend

  • Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon in Renaissance Spain

Philia (love between friends):

  • Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings

  • John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in the early years of the United States

Storge (parent-child love):

  • Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy

  • Lon and Preston Pyper in this episode of Impact: Stories of Survival

Agape (altruistic or charitable love): 

  • Bishop Myriel and the reformed Jean Valjean in Les Misérables

  • First responders, the Flight 93 passengers, and many ordinary people on 9/11

Ludus (playful, uncommitted love): 

  • The relationship described in Michael Bublé's "Everything"

  • A former coworker of mine who, much to the delight of our entire team, became completely and utterly twitterpated after meeting a new man (whom she subsequently married)

Pragma (reason-based or dutiful love): 

Philautia (self-love, whether healthy or unhealthy):

  • Nora at the end of A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen

  • Adolf Hitler throughout his rise, reign, and fall (a classic example of hubris, i.e., unhealthy self-love)

We're weird in Western society, aren't we? We value both reason and love, and yet we act as if they're complete opposites.

Well, we'll save that puzzle for another day. For today, show yourself a little philautia and just embrace all of you--even the odd, contradictory, less-than-admirable parts. And if you're ready to extend that to your writing, click here to book a call so you and I can give your work some love together.

Write on and happy Valentine's Day,


(Thanks to Dan Gold for sharing their work on Unsplash.)