Love Versions

It was the only time I had stayed at school late, well past when classes let out, rather than rushing out. I knew he would be there waiting for a pickup. Together, we would sit and talk, but people hesitated what to call us. Some would say we spent enough time to be dating; others saw what I saw: a burgeoning friendship. The type that starts with a certain type of strategic plotting. The friendship that starts as regarding academic concern, then slowly becomes a non-academic one. It eventually became what the closest of friendships become: when we start hanging out, because why not?

After all, the emotion involved between a friend crush and a romantic crush is love. The ancient Greeks had this idea that the two main kinds of love between humans was eros, a romantic or lustful love, or philia, a brotherly or friendly love. Eros is supposed to be concerned with some sort of beloved; we like our beloved for the kind of attention they give or can give us. Our crushes, concerned with the kind of attention we can potentially give, are merely one of the thousand futures we can pursue, whereas philia happens because of the positive experiences we’ve had with our friends. Philia happens because of experiences we’ve already shared with that person. A crush is merely a possibility, but friendships are connections that have already happened.

The question never really came up about whether he and I were in an eros or philia situation. Even today, some philosophers suggest the line between eros or philia only involves sexual attraction. They argue it is about an attitude we take with a person. If you care about someone, why does it matter how? It matters how I defined our “situation” because of the social capital we place upon romantic love. I can legally or religiously get married or update a Facebook status with someone I am in eros love with. However, I don’t update my bestie status with someone. Currently, the country lacks any formal legal designation for someone who is not blood-related to me or is romantically involved with me. There is no place for me to declare my philia companionship with. Society lacks value in my philia connections with others.

The lack of recognition for philia starts early. Even at a time, middle school, when the only real connections I had were philia connection, I was taught of the importance of eros love. For example, the game “Truth or Dare” would always circle back to what person I was crushing on at the moment. I was not immune to wanting to know the tea on other people and their superficial hormonal crushes. The question asked was never about the friend drama or the shifting fabrics of our social groups. Who cared what J and A were arguing at the moment? The more intriguing things was what A and D were flirting about outside on the field.

Sure, gossip is frowned upon by most of us. The implications and accusations often contain baseless lies about other people, yet Oxford University professor Robin Dunbar argues human social cohesion necessitates gossip. He writes in a paper “gossip, in the broad sense of conversation about social and personal topics, is a fundamental prerequisite of the human condition.” Then what we gossip about should say a lot about what our culture values. The gossip about crushes focuses too much on our eros desires, not on our already established philia connections. To shift the narrative from an obsession with the romantic, we then have to shift what we gossip about to who truly matters in our life: the philia friendships we already have.

By Amelia Dogan

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