The Other 3 Loves – [Ludus, Pragma, & Philautia]

First, we have ‘Ludus.’ Ludus is playful, juvenile, or uncommitted love. Ludus is commonly found during the beginning stages of a relationship (a.k.a. the honeymoon stage) and often involves activities such as teasing, flirting, seducing, and toying with someone. The focus is on fun, and also on the conquest, with no unwanted strings attached. Physical intimacy may be commonplace, though it is not necessarily so.

Ludus relationships are casual, undemanding, and uncomplicated, but typically land at extremes: they are either over very quickly or they endure for an extremely long time. Ludus works best when both parties are mature and self-sufficient (not to mention not jealous). But problems typically arise when one party mistakes Ludus for Eros, whereas Ludus is, in fact, much more compatible with Philia.

Next, there is ‘Pragma.’ Pragma is a kind of practical love founded on reason, duty, or one’s long-term interests. Sexual attraction takes a back seat in favor of compatibility, shared goals, and an earnest willingness to “make it work.” You and your partner focus on projects, challenges, and the like. You understand each other as being an integral part of the team.

In the days of arranged marriages, Pragma must have undoubtedly been very common. Although unfashionable to some, and at a polar opposite of romantic love, it remains widespread, most visibly in certain high-profile celebrity and political pairings. One can think of Anna Nicole Smith and her husband or Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. There are numerous other examples available throughout history, especially the Middle Ages.

For those marriages that last (either arranged or otherwise), Pragma serves as a unique bonded love that matures over many years. It’s an everlasting love based upon a couple’s decision to put equal effort into their relationship. Instead of “falling in love,” you are “standing in love” with the partner you want by your side indefinitely.

Philautia, finally, is self-love, which can either be healthy or unhealthy. Unhealthy self-love is akin to hubris. In ancient Greece, people could be accused of hubris if they placed themselves above the gods, or, like certain modern politicians, above the greater good of the community. Many believed that hubris led to destruction, or nemesis. Today, “hubris” has come to mean an inflated sense of one’s status, abilities, or accomplishments, especially when accompanied by haughtiness or arrogance. Because it does not accord with the truth, hubris promotes injustice, conflict, and enmity.

Healthy self-love, on the other hand, is akin to self-esteem, which is our cognitive and, above all, emotional appraisal of our own worth. More than that, it is the matrix through which we think, feel, and act, and reflects on our relationship to ourselves, to others, and to the world. Therefore, Philautia is a healthy form of love where you recognize your self-worth and don’t ignore your personal needs.

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