“What is love?” is a question that has been asked throughout the ages, by philosophers, poets, and Haddaway–insert obligatory head tip here.  While that is a perfectly valid question, and you guys know how heart-eyes we are for proper definitions around here, I think instead today we’ll ask the ever so aLBoP question, “How can we use double-dichotomies and the Four Types of Information to better understand love?”  Because dichotomies are sexy, dontcha know? 😉

Conveniently, the Greeks had four main words for love.  Now, my intent is to use the Four Types of Information to help us break down love into component parts, to both understand it more fully, define it more accurately, and help us apply these four sides of love to our own lives and relationships in order to see where our relationships are succeeding, and where they might stand to improve.  As such, I might have to alter the definitions of the Greek terms somewhat from their originals.

The Four Types of Information are fundamentally equal, whereas it wasn’t the Greeks’ intent to make their four kinds of love equal, so it stands to me to fudge a bit.  But hopefully I can still do justice to what Plato, Aristotle, etc. meant by their terms.

Now this post will rely on information found in Super Simple Part 1 about the Four Types of Information (aka 4Toi), and on Type Specializations about Scope and Objective.  (And of course we go into more depth on Phase 2 and there will be Super Simple posts on Scope and Objective at some point.)

But a quick recap…

The 4Toi are:

Letters

IP – Introverted Perceiving

IJ – Introverted Judging

EJ – Extraverted Judging

EP – Extraverted Perceiving

Double-dichotomy

Specific Information

Universal Information

Specific Action

Universal Action

Type of Information

Data & Details

Principles & Trends

Action & Consequences

Observation & Motivations

Scope

Situations and Objects

World and Trends

Group and Experiences

Individuals and Reactions

Usual matching Objective

NT

NF

ST

SF

Now depending on how much aLBoP you’ve read, including Phase 2, some of this might be more or less familiar to you.  One concept that I intend to explain in more depth with Volume 2 of Super Simple, is that Objective usually lines up neatly with the 4Toi as much as Scope does (bottom line of this chart), as:

IP = NT

IJ = NF

EJ = ST

EP = SF

Which makes INTP, INFJ, ESTJ and ESFP the “corners” most of the time, like in this graph from Type Specializations:That just means that those four types are the most specialized by those types of information, which isn’t a good or a bad thing, it’s just a them thing lol.

However, in looking at the Double-dichotomy by which we’re going to break love down into segments, it seems the corners do not stay the same.  This actually happens when we apply the 4Toi to lots of categories, but I haven’t talked about many of them on the main site yet.  One example though, is Optimism, Pessimism and What We Do About It.

Sometimes different variables other than Scope even form the 4Toi corners!  I had a post I wrote for the pre-Wordpress forum that was all about types and approach to style/fashion/appearance, etc.  (Don’t worry, it’ll make its way to the main site once we release Facial Typing on the main site, since it was chock-full of real life examples… please don’t ask me how soon that will be though lol.  It will be sooner if everyone plays nice on the main site 😉 )  Anyway, the placement of the types in that graph ended up very oddly placed (with reasons behind them!) with variables including “FJs” and “ST for Judging half of the cognition process” which makes it look super wonky.

Long story short, as I went to determine what the four lurve corners should be, I wasn’t too shocked to discover they weren’t the typical corners.

And actually, they line up by Objective first, which shouldn’t be too surprising considering our approaches to Love are all about desire and what we want to get out of relationships.

And so a quick recap of the four Objectives:

Letters

NT – iNtuitive Thinking

NF – iNtuitive Feeling

ST – Sensing Thinking

SF – Sensing Feeling

Double-dichotomy

Use of Concepts

Meaning of Concepts

Use of Experiences

Meaning of Experiences

Objective

Expectable – Potential Use of What Could Be

Edifying – Potential Meaning of What Could Be

Practical – Protective Use of What Is

Enjoyable – Protective Meaning of What Is

Tends to think in…

Truth and Error

Justice and Mercy

Right and Wrong

Pleasure and Pain

Usual matching Toi

Data & Details

Principles & Trends

Action & Consequences

Observation & Motivations

Can I just get the stupid out of the way and talk about how annoying it is that many would assert that “Thinking” had nothing to do with love?!?!  Or, equally bothersome to me, they might imply that Thinking would make for the most “rational, non-subjective” forms of love, while Feeling would give you the most twitterpated “irrational” ones.  I declare bovine feces!

We have too many posts about that already, but I can’t talk about love and feelings without at least a brief mention that any type can have a good or bad relationship with their emotions, and that’s not what makes someone F or T.  Sorry to the regulars who hear that rant too often.

And while types are more likely to approach love according to their combination of these, that doesn’t mean any type, including the corners, need be unbalanced between the four types of love, and it also doesn’t mean that someone can’t lean unhealthily towards a type of love that isn’t their home type.  In fact, Type Angsts often make us feel like we need to prove competence in our weaker Toi.

There is danger in trying to prove anything with a relationship, be it that your home-type of love is superior, or that you can excel at types of love that you’ve been criticized about.  Love is too important to be a megaphone for any soapbox or vendetta. Talk about a waste of human interaction and a quick way to cheapen something that might have actually ended up being worthwhile.

So yes, ideally I think, a relationship of any kind, be it friends, family or romantic, will be able to find ways to apply all four types of love, although obviously in different forms.  While parent-child relationships shouldn’t have “Éros” in the traditional Greek sense (let’s not be Oedipus Greek, heh), I think they can have it as the type of love I describe below (which again, makes it much more equal and balanced… so there 😛 ).

Okay, after all that disclaimer-age, let’s talk about the double-dichotomy that defines the Four Types of Love 😀 Yay!

 

Protection vs. Growth – S vs. N

As usual, Sensing and experience are one and the same, and S is all about protecting what already exists, what is already possessed; what is.  And also as per usual, iNtuition is concept, the discovery, growth into, and addition of what could potentially be; what might be.

So, when it comes to love, the two S types of love center around protecting the love and relationships you already have, as well as making those relationships a safe haven where the individuals included feel protected.

And the two N types of love center around getting more and more out of a relationship, pushing and stretching relationships to new heights.  They also tend to focus more on how much excitement is happening within a relationship, as excitement is typically about newness and growth within a relationship.

Now we’ll get into later why the assertion that either of these is more important than the other is just dangerous and dumb.

Also, like all N things, the N types of Love focus on how things are connected in concept, so how the members of the relationship are either conceptually similar, or different.  While S things, including the S types of Love, focus on where the pieces fit with the rest of the world as it stands. So the S types of Love focus on how the relationship gives its members a place in the wide world experienced.

 

Use vs. Meaning – T vs. F

As always on aLBoP, Thinking is all about the usefulness of things, and love is no exception.  The two T types of love focus on what love can bring to the table for the benefit of all involved.  And with Feeling, as always on aLBoP being about the meaning of things, the two F types of love focus on the intrinsic worth of love in its own right, the happiness it brings with no need of additional benefit.

I found it fascinating and fitting, also, to notice that the F types of Love are the kinds you “fall into;” that grasp you up, take you by surprise, and just feel very natural.  T types of Love, in contrast, take joy from being a decision.  T Loves desire to decide where, when, and how they’re going to love.  When I was discussing this dynamic with Justin, he said profoundly, “Pikachu, I choose you!”  -_-  Uh, sure.  Like that.

Now that we know our dichotomies, we can see how they fit together to form four distinctive sides and approaches to love, and we can examine in detail how they are each essential when used correctly, narrow without access to all the others, and treacherous when twisted.  For the record, I decided to go alphabetical with these, so that’s where the order comes from, no ranking or anything.

 

Agápe – Meaning Love
Objective: NF – Corner: ENFP – Element: Air

Lifting the participants above the dimness of empty mediocrity, Agápe is the song of archetype, the thrill of being a part of something larger than yourself, a fairy tale worth telling.  It is the embodiment of ENFP’s Type Specialization: the significance of individuals in the context of all time.  It cares deeply about the worth of each member, their individual, intrinsic meaning, as well as the sum of both parts.

As such, Agápe tends to focus less on things like appearance, focusing instead on the excitement of relating over topics that are meaningful to both parties; shared views, shared hopes and dreams, and jokes and experiences shared together.  All about finding conceptual similarities and connections, Agápe enjoys the question, “how can we make life more meaningful together than apart?”

It includes the amazement that someone could care so much about little-old-you, and the feeling of adoration (hopefully for both of you) of putting the other person on a pedestal, because they’re just so gosh darn amazing!  Agápe includes “puppy love,” but it also motivates staying up with your best friend squeeing all night, or getting overwhelmed holding your newborn for the first time.  It’s fitting to me that Agápe without the accent is “agape,” because that’s how Agápe love makes you feel, mouth agape in wonder because the love you feel for someone else is just incredulously amazing.

As NF love, Agápe is about the joy of ever improving the meaning of your love, uncontent with stagnation.  As such, true Agápe never loses the giddy pleasure of initial love, because it’s always renewing its purpose, finding new ways to grow closer and new things to connect and relate over.  The heart of Agápe’s strength comes from communication.  Being able to open up to each other, whole souls, and be desired for that consistent, forever being that you are; what could bring more excitement than that?

I think a poor handling of Agápe tends to come from an oversimplification of the motives behind it–surprise, surprise, EP is a valid Toi ;)!  When people in “adult” positions poo-poo relationships as childish and over excited, they miss what makes the often young participants want this sort of relationship.  It isn’t just the rush of emotion, which stern onlookers may deem fleeting.  And tbh, if a relationship is based on only this type of love, it certainly will be.  But it’s the excitement of having something precious, something that matters, which makes Agápe a thrill.

But when Agápe does grow dangerous, is when its meaning grows exhibitionist and competitive.  Unhealthy Agápe feels the need to show not only how meaningful it is, but how much more meaningful it is than other individuals, relationships, worldviews, etc.  It feels the need to advertise its “love for the ages” or even proclaim that “no one else has ever felt meaning and feelings so powerful!”  This sort of relationship advertising suddenly subverts Agápe’s very power, taking away the emphasis on the intrinsic meaning of the relationship, and making it all about comparison and show.  In turn, this leads to shallow, cotton-candy relationships, which may be saccharinely sweet on the outside, but lack the substance required to produce long-term satisfaction.

At their most severe, these relationships that subvert Agápe end up producing meaning-competition between their own members.  Because as soon as a relationship’s purpose is to bolster the apparent meaning of the participants, then the connection becomes a matter of individual ego, which can quickly be turned into which individual in the relationship is more meaningful.

You find this often within “soft rocker” relationships, a term we use based on this song by Jonathan Coulton.  I love how painfully incisive that song is, as ISTP Jonathan Coulton seemed disgruntled by the trend of “nice guys” who use tactics like sensitivity and, honestly, weakness, as ways to get people to treat them like they’re more meaningful than others, to slowly manipulate people to do what they want, and to look caring while honestly having no respect for anyone.  Often with an unhealthy helping of bad Storge, luring people in with the promise of “I’m so safe, unlike those other guys,”  Soft Rocking uses competitive meaning to say, “if I can appear nice, then it doesn’t matter what my motives are.”

Another common symptom of these unhealthy Agápe meaning-advertising relationships, is in the pursuit of not only having a relationship become as meaningful as it can be, but to have a relationship that is more meaningful than others’, it is easy to find more meaning elsewhere.  Without enough of the other Types of Love to ground you, the wind can easily whisk you away to greener pastures, with the thrill of newness having an enticing meaning all its own.  While not always a side effect of unhealthy Agápe, it’s a wonder to me how often “loves for the ages” end up being broken up by Agápe-ish claims of “you just don’t understand me like he does,” “but I forgot how strong my feelings were for her,” or “but I think she’s actually my soul mate.”

But without Agápe, love can’t breathe.  Agápe gives hope to love and lives, makes the sun shine brighter and the heart sing louder.  Agápe makes us feel loved for the person we’re trying to be.  Without Agápe, the other types of love feel tied down and restricted, like you can never really hope for anything more than the here-and-now of your relationship.

In short, Agápe is the wind in the wings of love, that when healthy helps you soar, and when unhealthy makes you feel like a tumbleweed.

 

Éros – Passion Love
Objective: NT – Corner: ENTJ – Element: Fire

Like dancing flames, Éros is the excitement of the tug of wills; intelligences grasping at one another, the shock of an entity outside yourself.  Whether it’s the thrill of being grabbed up into a surprise kiss, the blush produced by that friend who knows exactly how to tease you, or the joy of seeing your toddler get a mind of her own and give you sass, Éros finds passion through two independent desires interacting.

While a lot of the classical meaning of sexual passion would be included in this NT Éros, that is by no means all that Passion Love is.  Sex may be pursued through any or all of these four approaches to love.  And Éros is the push and pull of strengths that, while often associated with the collide of two bodies, certainly isn’t limited to that.

With ENTJ being the Éros, Passion Love corner, we can see that it’s the collision of NT Expectable, and EJ Action and Consequences, as Éros is in so many ways the physics of love.  “If I move this way, what happens?  If I push here, let go here…?”

Whereas Agápe is all about finding conceptual similarities, Éros instead finds joy and humor in conceptual differences and contrasts; small and large, different shapes, masculine and feminine, muted and bright, leather and lace, old-fashioned and modern, sarcastic and serious, etc. etc.  They say “opposites attract,” but in truth, I think, that isn’t a hard and fast rule so much as a reflection that contrast and enjoying having differences is a necessary part of healthy relationships, one that demonstrates the appreciation that the other person is a whole *person* outside of you! 😮 That they have their own desires and thoughts and ideas, which can be excitingly foreign from your own thoughts.  A major purpose of aLBoP is sharing joy over the fact that not everyone thinks just like you do, and that that is a good, exciting thing!

One thing I love about interacting with Justin is that, after over 9 years of marriage, his humor still surprises me.  NT intelligence specializes in being able to predict what to expect (with ENTP specifically predicting reactions), so it makes sense that NT love would be particularly excited by not knowing what to expect.  I love how Justin, in his high-contrast of cloaked seriousness and seemingly random bursts of snarky color and silliness, never ceases to catch me off-guard.  And for someone who spends their life and mind-power predicting how people are going to react, being surprised is really exciting for me, and frankly pretty sexy.

The combination of future-aimed NT and swift-moving EJ, Éros is the most in-motion type of love, which brings a great deal of its passionate thrill.  And yet, with that comes the danger of things tumbling out of control.  In Avatar: The Last Airbender (tv show, tv show, tv show, not movie 😛), the rather jaded firebending master Jeong Jeong puts it this way, “Water is cool and soothing, earth is steady and stable, but fire, fire is alive.  It breathes, it grows.  …[A] rock will not throw itself.  But fire will spread and destroy everything in its path if one does not have the will to control it!”  And the same applies to Éros; while it brings great life and color to relationships, as the Love of passion it can quickly spin out of control and burn those in its path.

At its most dangerous, Éros becomes the subversion of its own pursuit, attempting to undermine the very human wills that made it exciting in the first place.  And that really seems to be at the core of the disaster whenever Éros breaks: not viewing the other will as as valid as one’s own.

Whether it’s a tawdry one night stand, the oppressiveness of a parent who claims “my way or the highway,” or in the most extreme cases, rape or other forms of physical or sexual abuse, Éros breaks as soon as at least one member of the relationship views the other’s will, or tries to force it, to be subservient to their own.  The reason we call empty physical relationships “cheap” in the first place, is because they try and get the benefits of other human beings without actually sacrificing anything to being vulnerable to the intelligence of another person.

True, healthy Éros enjoys the trust placed in someone else as much as it enjoys the trust someone places in you.  In fact, I believe the motives behind the subversions of Éros usually come back to fear of Éros itself!  While other wills are exciting, they are also scary because they’re out of your control, which is the heart of vulnerability itself.  Healthy, fulfilling Éros requires a degree of surrender on the part of both parties.

Because just like everything with EJ Action, when you’re interacting with a world and wills outside your own, you can control what you put in, but not what you get out.  You can choose what to do with your will, but you can’t control if someone else is going to want what you want, want to do what you want to do, care the way you care… or care way more than you do.  For better or for worse, playing with multiple, powerful intelligences is playing with live dynamite, although it might be the most worthwhile gamble you might ever take.

Because on the other hand, without Éros, relationships become cold, lacking the color, life and vigor they need to have power.  Éros is the warm firelight of contrast that sharpens relationships through heightened light and shadows, both parties given the excitement of surprise by the other’s own free will.  Without Éros’s push-and-pull of passion, the other types of love feel bland and under-spiced; without spark.

So Éros is the fiery burn of two wills doing their own unique dance, playing off each other like light and dark which, when healthy, brings surprise and excitement and passionate closeness, but when unhealthy burns like wildfire, consuming the very wills it was intended to love.

 

Philia – Dedication Love
Objective: ST – Corner: ISTJ – Element: Earth

I feel like I can stick fairly closely with the original Greek definition on this one, just because I really love it, as I understand it.

The bedrock of enduring relationships, steady and dependable as the earth beneath your feet, Philia is about nourishing your relationships as they’re planted, dedicated to the role that love has promised.  Defining the greatest, most legendary friendships of the ages, Philia is the love of most conscious choice.  While family is something that initially happens to you, the dedication of friendship is something you must choose for yourself.  Who will be there with you through rain and snow, heartache and loss?  Who will you stand by when all lights go out?  Philia is the Love of endurance, of good faith and strength through long nights.

An essential, lost art in many families, where love is taken as granted (see the bad version of Storge, below), or in relationships where the excitement of the N Loves sweep people up in the glittery and new, Philia is often undermined as stale and close-minded.  But I think that overlooks the powerful, inherent meaning and archetype demonstrated through the choice of intentional love.

Whereas the other types of love are more likely to be keen on outward demonstrations of love and often more showy displays of affection and commitment, in word, deed or intimacy, Philia is the type of love that knows that if sacrifice doesn’t really pinch, it’s not really sacrifice.  Philia is there without reward, without need of honors or high praises.  Philia is dedicated to the continual establishment of a safe and secure place for its members, providing a lasting, unyielding foundation.

The love that drives a young mother to be there for her little ones through long, thankless nights; the drive of a man-at-arms to be there for his captain; the quiet endurance of the spouse who stays even when their loved one’s mind doesn’t remember as it once did, or of the grown-up child who holds their parent’s hand as they slowly slip away; all these demonstrate Philia’s profound romance of solid, grounded, determination to choose love over and over again.  Philia is centered around the roles that its members play, as enduring archetypes: the father, the sister, the wife, the teacher, the protector, the best friend.  Philia takes these roles and makes them pledges, filled with honor and faithfulness.

The combination of ST’s practicality, working with the resources it already has, and IJ’s unending trends, Philia is the love of appreciating what you have, maintaining it with the attitude that you only have one of that relationship, so you better keep it polished, honed and protected like a diamond.

But as is always a danger when trying to protect what is already there, the dedication to what once was can often overlook the current state of what’s missing, and what might be.  When it becomes narrow and unhealthy, Philia forgets that the relationship protected must live up to its original meaning, not just be an empty Principle of what it woulda/coulda/shoulda been.  While Philia should stand firm against the flightiness of abandoning relationships as soon as they prove challenging, it needs to repeatedly check in and determine if the relationship is fulfilling its original intent.

When relationships rely overly on Philia to get them through, lives feel empty, people get needlessly hurt, and resentment builds.  Resentment is an emotion borne of disappointment, but shoved down until its owner feels torn and despises the source of the disappointment.  Philia turns into this unhealthy alternative when, instead of asking the relationship to grow into the other types of love, love becomes just an obligated shadow of its former self, relying on fear of what would happen if dedication was abandoned, as opposed to being able to enjoy the relationship for its own sake anymore.  Disappointment in a relationship needs to be properly looked at, or feelings of resentment will grow and sour love into a hollow chore, going through the motions.

Otherwise, unhealthy Philia ends up glaring at the very people it sought to protect.  Thoroughly disappointed in how the relationship isn’t fulfilling the meaning it hoped to have, but also without hope of anything changing, Philia grows cynical, rote, and despising.  It produces a pessimistic belief that “this is as good as things are ever going to get, so why even try to change them?” which in turn attacks the relationship itself, as an outlet, punishing the source of hopelessness, because “what point is there in trying to change anything?”

This pessimism leads not only to the resentment of one’s own relationship, but to the resentment of others’ relationships, placing a rigid, rooted limit on the height relationships in general are allowed to attain.  Because disappointed pessimism about one’s own relationship easily leads to an assertion that others shouldn’t be happy or feel fulfilled within their relationships either, usually implying either that others’ happiness is fleeting, shallow and destined to fail, or unmerited, and undeserved.  This jealous, unhealthy Philia can even lead to attempts, verbal or otherwise, to tear down others’ relationships in an effort to tamp down the awareness that other relationships are being more fulfilling than one’s own.

People often lean toward Philia because the consequences of doing so look less dire on the surface.  In an attempt to protect from the “flighty” extreme of Agápe, the runaway heat of Éros, or even the tumbling waterfall effect of Storge, it’s common to hide in this unhealthy extreme of Philia, deeming its negative effects less impactful than that of the others.  But that attitude overlooks how empty, tired, despondent, hopeless, and alone residents of bad Philia can end up feeling, dedicated to a path that feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, living with no real purpose, just life for the dedication of it.

This grinding sort of Philia ends up subverting its own purpose, of choosing love, by dismissing its ability to chose love as a forgone conclusion, dangerously planting its feet and saying, “I will stand here, no matter what,” without even daring to consider if that’s the best choice or not.  Even when Philia is difficult, even when it takes sacrifice and painful choices, its power comes from choice renewed.

Philia must be an ever-renewal of Principled purpose to bring joy and be effective.  Whether that purpose is the nurturing and protection of the other member of the relationship, or the protection of your own little kingdom of love and safety, or other reasons entirely, Philia draws its strength from deliberate resolve, understanding *why* it’s planting its feet.

Because when done correctly, Philia gives unmatched strength and stability to relationships.  Pylons of stone, healthy Philia gives a wise and understanding core to its tenants that makes their unification merrily unbreakable.  Without Philia, the other types of love feel flimsy, cheap, and ill-defined, lacking the fiber to weather life’s bumps and hurricanes, and without the enduring peace and sanctuary that Philia keeps within its unaffected walls.

Philia is the love most determined and planted, its unyielding boulders unmoved by time or travail, which can either protect and provide a foundation for enduring love, or can stubbornly stop a relationship from rolling forward to its purpose.

 

Storge – Safety Love
Objective: SF – Corner: ISFP – Element: Water

As constant and reliable as the tides on the shore, Storge is the promise of safety, calm, and belonging.  Like the path of a stream, winding its way around obstacles and settling comfortably into every crevice, Storge is the most natural, unplanned type of Love, taking joy at a love totally unforced.

The combination of IP moments and SF enjoyment, Storge sits as the comfy corner, embracing people as they are.  While the ancient meaning implied people you “have to” love, and that meaning does fall within Storge’s borders, this definition of Storge is far more about a love you “can’t help” but have.

Whether it’s high school sweethearts who have always been there for one another, that friend’s house where you always have a place to crash and a fridge you can stick your head in, or your parents who will always take you back no matter how prodigal you are, Storge tells the recipient, “You don’t have to exert yourself, or change; you have a place here no matter what.”  Storge knows who you are, where you’ve been, and helps you feel like you belong for all your quirks.

There’s a verse in the song “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service, co-written by ISFP Ben Gibbard, that says, “I’m thinking it’s a sign that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images, and when we kiss they’re perfectly aligned.  I have to speculate that God himself did make us into corresponding shapes like puzzle pieces from the clay” (actually, I thought it was “puzzle pieces from on high” until I looked up the lyrics just now, but “from the clay” is pretty too).  I love that very ISFP sentiment; you and I fit together like the most perfect, comfortable match ever, clicking together so everything fits in harmony.

Storge is the love of peace, being a tender oasis of safety from the past, the future, pains and bad memories, where its members can be in the moment and heal through feeling thoroughly cherished.  In a world where it’s hard to find anyone without so much painful baggage, where it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t feel broken in some way, we all need the soothing balm of Storge to tell us that there’s still pockets of safety in the world, still people who want us when we don’t feel put together, and still someone to put their arms around us and tell us that despite how dark things can sometimes seem, there’s still love and support to get us through it.

But Storge’s ultimate desire for safety and comfort can end up actually undermining the needs of its protectorates.  When Storge grows unhealthy, it can take two very different forms, which can sometimes overlap.

The first form of unhealthy Storge is like a stream that has set its course and refuses to deviate, demanding calm and composure of its participants, treating peace as if it’s something that comes only from not ruffling feathers.  This kind of unhealthy Storge often goes to the point of acting like legitimate problems that members of the relationship have get in the way of the safe atmosphere if brought up, so issues go unaddressed and un-dealt with, everyone just pretending that things are okay, as if that actually makes them so.  It often takes love for granted, assuming that because things have been in a repetitive rhythm for so long, surely everyone knows where they stand, not realizing that just because things fall into places, doesn’t mean they fell into the right places, just by chance.  Just because a relationship’s monsters lie beneath the surface of a calm lake doesn’t mean they aren’t there, waiting and lurking.  Likewise, emotions shoved to the side for the sake of a “happy home” or relationship, lie ready to break the seemingly calm surface tension when least expected.

This form of unhealthy Storge, while it may seem to provide a tranquil atmosphere for its members, actually undermines the very safety it provides, by making members feel like if they feel things outside the relationship’s given parameters, they’ll irreparably break the relationship’s status quo, so they better just pretend like everything’s okay.  When people feel unable to open up about their worries, angers, anxieties, joys, and frustrations, for fear of rocking the boat, they can’t truly feel safe, no matter how good the facade created.

The other form unhealthy Storge most often takes is like a gushing waterfall of love, needing and smothering oppressively, so that neither member of a relationship can truly breathe.  When Storge’s sweet and ardent desire to cling and find safety together turns sour, often one member treats the other like the air they need to breathe, hanging on to the other like they’re drowning, pulling them down like a siren into the deeps.

When a relationship defines safety by the time spent together, and refuses to find peace and comfort outside of each other, unhealthy symbiotic relationships form.  #Badsigns include members of a relationship insisting that they’re only happy when they’re together, or that it physically hurts when they’re apart, worrying or growing jealous when one member of the relationship spends time with anyone outside of the relationship, guilting in order to get praise or to get the other person to do what makes them feel safe, or even insistence that death or suicide is imminent if the other person was to leave.

But when one person requires the subjugation of another’s will in order to feel safe… a) that’s not true safety, and the smotherer will never truly feel the peace and security they claim the other person provides for them, and b) the Éros of the other person having the right to their own will is totally lost, their will becoming just a means to the end of the first’s comfort, which must break or explode at some point.

Both of these unhealthy forms of Storge, while they can start from sweet intentions, can end up dangerously controlling and manipulative when they become twisted, forcing others to adhere to one version of “safety,” while making them feel anything but.

Storge is subverted into something truly ugly when it uses everything that once felt like a sanctuary of being known, into ways to needle and twist everything to its own comfortable advantage.  No tidbit of the past, no like or dislike, or known insecurity, is safe when twisted Storge is being used to extract revenge on members of its own relationship, forcing them to get back under the water or be cast out in shame.  Usually this ultimately ugly version of Storge combines the worst of both the unhealthy versions, taking all the “let’s pretend it’s okay” from the first form, and the “love me or I’ll die” from the second form, and uses everything about the relationship as a compilation of tactics to grasp whatever it wants, willing to take the relationship over the waterfall’s cliff with it, if necessary, all in the name of security and keeping the relationship within one’s own comfy control.

But without healthy Storge, love feels scary, unprotected and unsettled, nomadic and discordant.  Storge is the life preserver of its members, giving buoyancy to the heavy heart and a safe harbor to its members from the tireless storm outside. (I’m having a little too much fun with these water metaphors, did you notice? 😀  Interestingly they seem much easier to produce in great abundance than air, fire or earth analogies. 😉 )  Healthy Storge provides a lighthouse that is always waiting for you, wanting you for who you are, and saying “Welcome home.”

In short, Storge is the love of utmost comfort, which when healthy provides smooth and happy sailing, and a peaceful cove of your very own, and when unhealthy threatens to drag you down with its heavy, clinging arms, into its very depths.

(Darn, I should have used a mermaid metaphor somewhere!  Don’t know where, but pretend there’s a mermaid somewhere, okay?  Mermaids are the bestest.)

 

So there, we have the Four Types of Love, in their effulgent splendor when healthy, and in their soul-ripping terror when unhealthy.

I find that most over-leaning into a Type of Love comes from pendulum swinging away from Type(s) of Love we’ve been burned by in our pasts, ways we’ve been hurt, scared, invalidated, or left alone in our lives.  When you’ve been hurt by Agápe, Philia, Storge or Éros in the past, it’s hard to get back on the bike.  But my hope is that, in seeing how the healthy versions of each Type of Love are so unmistakably different from their twisted counterparts, you’ll be able to shoot for the good of each in all your relationships, while simultaneously acknowledging that the bad that hurt you was not okay.

And while it isn’t always the case that we overcompensate into the Type of Love opposite from the one we’re avoiding (opposite meaning opposite Objective/Corners–so Agápe being the opposite of Philia and Éros being the opposite of Storge), it is common.  And it is usually helpful, when we’re leaning too far into one Type of Love, to work on understanding its opposite in order to regain balance.

Justin and I like to joke about the two extremes in Japanese culture and how utterly ISTJ vs ENFP they are, with the “honor, zen, dedication and precision” on the ancient, ISTJ extreme, and the “OMG Kawaii!!!!!!!!!!” anime culture on the ENFP extreme, which seems to have risen up in direct response to the first culture.  I think these examples perfectly sum up the attitudes behind Philia/Dedication love and Agape/Meaning love, and can benefit in a similar way from the appreciation of the other.

Those who lean toward Philia can end up treating Agápe as childish and silly, and Agápe-leaners can treat Philia as stiff and unenlightened, both treating the other as if they don’t qualify as “love” at all!  But as the precise endurance of Philia’s cold steel finds balance in the exciting bubbly color of Agápe’s rush, it can be given a new kind of hope and meaning in its everlasting dedication.  And as the eye-popping rainbow of Agápe’s thrill finds balance in the steady sturdiness of Philia’s consistency and patience, it can be given the ability to stay the course of its highest purposes.

Likewise, proponents of Storge can treat Éros as a danger to everything safe and secure, and fans of Éros can treat Storge as boring and cowardly.  But as the quiet content of Storge finds balance in Éros’s smirking spark of contrast, it can find its members *more* able to be comfortably themselves.  And as Éros’s prodding flames find balance within Storge’s soothing calm of still waters, it can know exactly where to push and pull while keeping its members safe from fear of being consumed.

And in this same way, the S/N Loves can learn from the other, and the T/F Loves can learn from each other as well, and we can often lean too far to one side or the other for feelings of security.

 

Types of Love and Type Angsts

As I looked at the effects of leaning toward one Type of Love to the minimizing of the others, I realized that each extreme brought with it the Type Angst of its native corner!  Because Type Angsts are weaknesses that come from trying to gain each type’s strength, and it’s much easier to gain another type’s weaknesses than its strengths, without proper balance in all four Types of Love, any type will gain the Angst of the type they’re becoming like.

 

Too much Agápe, at the expense of the other Types of Love, results in ENFP’s Type Angst, McFly Conviction, which is the fear that your feelings are worthless, invalid and stupid.  So overly Agápe relationships are rife with the fear that the relationship may be invalid, immature, worthless, or exaggerated.

When McFly Conviction gets out of hand, a common way to cope is by attempting to prove the validity of one’s own emotions and self-worth, sometimes even to the belittling of others’ emotions and self-hood.  Following the same pattern, when Agápe relationships go too far to prove themselves valid, they can find the need to imply that their relationship is *more* meaningful, *more* powerful, lasting, beautiful, archetypal, enlightened… etc. etc., than others’ relationships.  Unhealthy Agápe relationships can often be found with an inability to shut up about how noble, sweet, adorable and fairy tale-worthy their relationship, or the members within it, are compared to others.

But it’s important to note that this comes from the insecurity of fearing that the relationship *isn’t* meaningful, worthy, lasting or enlightened, that all the powerful Agápe feelings are for naught.  But as Agápe gets tempered with all three of the other Loves, it is able to overcome the fear of insubstantiality, and stop feeling the need to prove.

 

When there’s too much Éros, at the expense of the other Types of Love, it results in ENTJ’s Type Angst, The Great and Powerful Trixie Tantrum, which is, at its core, a fear of not being listened to or having your will truly heard, which usually leads to feeling like you have to push and assert if you want to get your way.  In the same way, overly Éros relationships end up making one, or usually both members feel like if they don’t get pushy about their own desires and the direction they want things to go, they won’t be heard by the other.

It makes sense that, as the heart of Éros is the wills of its members–the exciting rush of each person being individual–when relationships grow overly Éros, one’s own will often feels in jeopardy, as members of a relationship, be it couples, family members or friends, want different things, pulling in different directions.

When Great and Powerful Trixie Tantrum gets out of hand, those who experience it often cope by growing louder, pushier, and even refusing to let others get their way at all, insisting that if others don’t compromise all the way, then they’re not compromising at all.  Controlling other wills, instead of letting them spark freely, feels much safer to runaway Trixie, and likewise when the members of overly Éros relationships feel unheard, it can be tempting to find the other person’s will scary and out of your own control.  But again, Éros’s exciting fire comes from enjoying differences and contrasts in will, even differences in desires.

As Éros is strengthened by the other Types of Love, it’s able to find its love deepened in richness and happiness, actually far more benefitted by others’ wills being fulfilled, for each member of the relationship to be strong independently, which leads to having a stronger relationship together.

 

Too much Philia, at the expense of other Types of Love, results in ISTJ’s Type Angst, Thranduil Denial, which is the fear that you’ll never have a place in the world that’s truly your own, where you belong, that you’ll never find a place that will last, where you are the puzzle piece meant for your one and only spot.  And with Philia’s focus on the roles that a relationship provides its members, overly Philia relationships end up full of the fear that if the relationship were to be lost, the opportunity to have that role in the world would be lost forever.

It’s an excellent side of Philia, treating relationships like a precious metal that you only get one of, but Thranduil Denial can lead to anxious, panic-filled relationships that keep their members from branching out, growing, and really living life, for fear of losing the only place they ever felt that enduring wantedness.  It can also keep people in toxic relationships where they really shouldn’t be, for fear of never being able to interact with the world in that same role again.

But as Philia is cushioned with the other three Types of Love, it’s soothed with the adaptability of the others, given the power to find hope of new beginnings, new friendships and find places anew to feel wanted, treasured, and given a place to apply its forever dedication.

 

Too much Storge, at the expense of the other Types of Love, results in ISFP’s Type Angst, Banner Trepidation, which is the fear that the world is too big, scary and dangerous, to be able to have any hope of keeping the precious things you care about from breaking.  Relationships with too much Storge feel “exposed, like a nerve” to the world outside, so determined to be safe that nothing feels safe enough.

Banner Trepidation run wild leads to excessive clinging, and building forts around the things you love, to the point of smothering them, and even breaking them yourself in a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Likewise, as Storge runs amok, people end up building bomb shelters for their relationships, afraid that any exposure to the outside world will hurt the relationship or the people in it.  Whether it’s outside dangers, outside relationships, or outside influences, it can feel like anything has the power to come break the things most important.

But as Storge is bolstered by the other three Types of Love, it can be shown that true love isn’t fragile, and can withstand all the elements, given the perspective it needs to be the refuge it can be for all involved.

 

I found it quite remarkable how much each overcompensation ends up in that corner’s Angst.  In fact, I believe a reliable way to identify if you’re starting to lean too much toward one Type of Love, is to look at each relationship individually and ask yourself if you feel any of the following fears about that relationship:

  • “I fear I have to prove this relationship, or the members of it, are as valid and meaningful as others’, or else feel like they’re being minimized and invalidated as mattering at all.” — If yes, then too much Agápe in that relationship, at the expense of other Types of Love

  • “I fear that I have to push to have my will heard and my desires met, I feel like what I want is just too far outside what they want.” — If yes, then too much Éros in that relationship, at the expense of other Types of Love

  • “I fear that if I lost this relationship, I would lose the role it gives me in the world; be it spouse, romance, friend, sibling, parent, child; if I lose this relationship, I’ll never be able to interact that same way in the world again.” — If yes, then too much Philia in that relationship, at the expense of other Types of Love

  • “I fear that I can’t keep the members of this relationship safe, so I feel like I need to protect this relationship from outside influences, be it physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, cultural, etc.; I have to keep them safe or things will get broken.” — If yes, then too much Storge in that relationship, at the expense of other Types of Love

I hope that gives a useful guide to seeing if you’re leaning too far in one direction or another with any of your relationships.  For example, I feel pretty balanced in my marriage now, but I can look back at when we were first going out, and can see that we initially leaned too far into Philia (surprisingly), and needed more of the “sweep you away” kinds of love, and actually that’s something we’ve continued to work on over the years.  We’re a good “through rain and snow, hell and highwater” couple, but we’ve struggled on and off with the other three.

And looking back, I was in fact afraid when we were in that early stage, that if I lost Justin I’d never have the opportunity to interact with the world the way I did with him.  Which, while that was somewhat true, was a fear borne out of not having the other Types of Love to give me other reasons to be there.  You don’t want the role a relationship gives you to be the only reason you stay.  Which is the exact reason why Justin and I broke up for a while, while we were dating.  Long story, whole big thing. 😉

We grow within relationships, and the same relationship will require different balancing at different times, but also different relationships within our lives will need different things.  I have some relationships that provide me with a lot of Storge, some that provide me with more Agápe, etc., but ideally I want to always be finding more balance within each of them.

 

Okay, and finally, what are the natural, home-base approaches to love for the 16 cognitive types?  Let us look at our handy-dandy graph and find out!

We have our four Objectives, called by the attitude nouns we acquired from our Four Types of Love, above, and then we combine them with our four Scopes, called by the approach that Scope takes to love, which is an adjective.  So we end up with a Type-of-Love-Noun from our Objective and an Adjective describing how we approach that love from our Scope, and the two make for, I think, adept descriptions for how each cognition approaches love, typically.  That description made it sound way more complicated than it really is.  Roll the film, er graph…

(I have to get used to the corners being oddness on this one, it looks wonky to me with the Scopes not in their usually Toi spots, but I’ll survive.)

NT = Passion EJ = Fervent
NF = Meaning EP = Earnest
ST = Dedication IJ = Enduring
SF = Safety IP = Steady

Now if you’d like more depth on these approaches, I’d be happy to do more posts on this topic in the future (I think this post is already long enough, don’t you? 😉 ).  But for now, the short version is that, besides the corners, each type tends to approach love by prioritizing a combination of the two Types of Love that form its Objective + Scope, with the corners getting a double helping of their Type of Love (thus corners 😉 ).

{Subtype, which we talk about on Phase 2, follows this same pattern, fyi, with (ep) matching with Agápe ToL, etc.  If the Phase 2-sers want a specific ToL and subtype post, I can do that… but it pretty much just follows the same pattern lol.}

These patterns seem to be each type’s “home base” approach to love, which comes naturally and healthily to them, and it’s okay if you find yourself an especially big fan of your native ToLs.  But again, any type can grow unbalanced in any of the Types of Love, based on life experience, both nurture and environment, and personal choices.  Just like the Four Types of Information, we all need all Four Types of Love, and sometimes we might need to get help and perspective from the people in our lives who we find excel in the areas where we struggle.  Find people who have relationships that you feel exemplify good Storge, Philia, Éros, and/or Agápe, and learn from how they make it work in their relationship!

We can even learn from powerful fictional relationships!  See what you can glean from Merida and Queen Elinor learning to balance Merida’s Éros wild will and Elinor’s dedicated Philia, in Brave.

Watch how the tug of wills and meaningful excitement that Rapunzel finds through Flynn in Tangled, as they start with Éros and grow into Agápe, are able to free and heal her from the twisted, guilting Philia, and clingy, overprotective Storge that Mother Gothel raised her with.

Enjoy the tenderness of enduring Philia and Storge in the montage at the beginning of Up, but learn with Carl that losing the one you love doesn’t mean you have to lose your place in the world, and that Agápe’s out there!

Watch the transition as Lightning McQueen in Cars realizes that life and love aren’t more satisfying if you constantly pursue Éros’ flashy newness, and that a feeling of Storge belonging, and choosing Philia by realizing who your real friends are, gives you a place in the world that you wouldn’t exchange for any stupid cup.

(And now I’m going off analyzing in my head how Anna, in Frozen, started out with bad Agápe, fueled by desperation and loneliness, and how Elsa was pushed by guilt to consider only Storge and Philia to be safe kinds of love, when really she needed to embrace her own NT Éros will, and love herself, and that in the end it’s Anna’s ability to combine all four Types of Love for her sister that saves the day… *ahem*  Going off there.  I’m done now…. Except to say that the frost trolls’ song about “Fixer Upper” borders on bad Storge, settling and not helping people change, so that’s one of my not-so-favorite parts of the movie.  Okay, I’m really done now.)

Apparently all the examples that came to mind were Disney/Pixar CGI films, but I hope that gives you a sampling of how we can use story to teach us about balancing all types of Love, in our own relationships.

(And now Justin is talking about how HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey could have used being programmed with more Éros, because his Philia dedication was too powerful.)

Obviously we could have so much more fun with examples, but I hope that giving this foundational overview, defining and exploring sides of the Four Types of Love, will give you enough information to start seeing these patterns around you, especially in your own relationships.  It was helpful to me to be able to see all four distinctly different sides of love, and how much, together, they can bring more balance, hope, harmony and excitement to all our relationships.  Because maybe it’s true that all you need is love… so long as you have all the different loves, interplaying together.

With our powers combined, it becomes Captain Planet!  Er… I mean full love, in balance. (So Heart!  Okay, now I’m embarrassed to have linked that video.  I swear that show wasn’t nearly so “gah” as a kid… although the Fire guy was always cute. 😏)

But anyway, the Four Types of love; since we’re all better together than apart, with our wills strong, our dedication firm, and our peace secure.

Much Love (of all Types),

<3 Calise