Defining Love – Part IV: Let’s Get Physical

Please feel free to read Parts I, II & III of this series previously posted.

In my last post discussing Philos or mental love, I stated it was chosen as the starting point as it was the lowest level of the three types of love. And I still think that is accurate. However, the next type of love “Eros” or physical love is probably the easiest to comprehend. Just think of the word “erotic”. Philos love requires some thought and can be expansive in its nuance and degree. Eros love is pretty straight-forward and most readers will readily understand physical love. That’s right, this is the juicy stuff. The love embodied in sensual touch, kissing, and sex. It is attraction, lust, desire, want, passion, and all things that are an expression of sexual or physical desire.

But as the first post of this series warns; do not confuse the physical act of sex with the emotional concept of desire. This love can exist and never be acted upon. You could have a physical desire or attraction to someone whom you will probably never have sex with. But you will rarely have sex with someone who you don’t have a physical desire for. I have chosen the wording of the last sentence carefully to say that it will “rarely” happen. I am leaving the door open for all those physical encounters that may have been fueled by low self-esteem, revenge, our inebriation rather than physical attraction. You can actually perform the physical acts of sex with someone you are not attracted to nor have any real Eros love for. I would not recommend this, but we must understand that it can happen. It reaffirms the separation of sex and love, where one is the physical act and the other is emotional desire.

That being said, it is easy to see why I have given Philos (mental love) a lesser degree than that of Eros (physical love).  Eros or physical love will most often include some degree of mental love. But strangely enough, in partnering relationships it is usually the Eros love that comes first. Remember this is the emotional part of erotic love, not the physical act. And we must recognize that we are first attracted to someone physically, which sets the ball rolling for whatever follows. This is not a function of being shallow or placing a greater importance on physical love rather than mental love. It is simply a representation of how we are hard-wired. Lest we forget, in this contemplation and intellectualization of our human emotions, we are still animals. And although years of intellectual evolution, societal constructs, and cultural norms have guided us to want physical attraction to be so much more, it is still our species means of procreation. And this is true for the LGBT community, as our innate drive in procreation is the act of sex, not the bearing of offspring. Due to that fact, we can be sexually attracted to persons we have not developed any mental love for. It is only after the initial physical attraction, that we may take the steps necessary to determine if there is a shared Philos type of love for one another. That is what the drudgery of dating is all about. We meet someone and are attracted to them physically, and then we spend time together hoping to develop the mental love that is needed for a long-term relationship. And, again, since we are talking about the emotional part of physical love, we are attracted regardless of whether the object of our desires is really a good “lover” in the bedroom. But oddly, our partner’s ability to physically express their passions and desires in our sex lives is very important. In fact, after determining we have a physical attraction to someone, then spending time dating to develop the so necessary part of mental love for each other, we will bail out of a relationship if our partner cannot “bring it” when it comes to sex. This is because, unlike Philos love which is a “give and take”, Eros love is all “take”.  You do not have erotic feelings for someone because you know you can rock their world. You have them because you are hoping they can rock yours. Physical love is about getting those physical needs met. That doesn’t mean that factors, stemming from a mutual Philos and Eros love, do not create a desire to meet your partner’s physical needs, it simply means that if yours aren’t also being met you are likely to lose interest in that person. If you are staying in a relationship that does not meet your physical needs, you are either unhappy, having or fantasizing about an affair, or placing a greater value on some other portion of the relationship. And that would be truly sad. Healthy and happy relationships should have all the love you want, not force you to miss out on some portion in order to have others. You rainbow should have all the colors, you deserve it.

Please return for the next in this series:  Defining Love – Part V – Conditionally Yours

© 2012  Commonsensibly Speaking ~ Brad Osborne

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