I Think I'm In Love, And I'm Freaking Out

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By Autumn Morris

Ben had the BIGGEST crush on me in the 7th grade. I was flattered, truly. He passed me love notes every day in class and would give me compliments ALL of the time. It was great. Until one day he fucked it all up. He said the treacherous words, “I love you.”

WHAT DOES THIS EVEN MEAN?!? Naturally my response was “so you like… ‘love me’ love me????” I consider this an appropriate response for a 13-year-old. What other language would I have in my arsenal at this age to help me digest what little Benjamin was feeling?? At this time in my life, my context for love was the love my parents had for me, that my sisters had for me, and that my friends had for me. I knew enough to comprehend that this feeling he had, was not that of my family or friends. However, I was also confused because the verbiage was the same.

Most of the people I’ve talked to have had a similar experience when hearing “I love you” for the first time from someone outside of their family. Love is a large word at the gateway of a multifaceted emotion. At 13 years old, I didn’t have an arsenal of language to help me better understand what he felt. Now I do: the four types of love. These four types of love are:

Agape Love – this is a general appreciation for someone. Kind of like how Miley Cyrus loves her fans. She doesn’t know each and every one of her fans, but, she understands the role they play in her success. This is the type of love that describes what people mean when they say “I love you as a person.”

Phileo Love – this is a friend-like love. With this type of love, you have invested more and experience more than just a general appreciation. This love features platonic attraction and affection.

Storge Love – this love is used to express love to family. It features a sense of tribe and belonging that is instinctive as apposed acquired.  

Eros Love – this is romantic love. Someone who feels this love typically experiences a collection of the previous three types of love along with lust and passion.

There have been plenty of times when I felt the urge to say, “I love you” to someone that I didn’t think I had romantic feelings for. This can be pretty scary. You begin to question your emotions, your attachment, and your relationship to that person. Understanding the facets of love has helped me decipher the type of love I have for everyone. Additionally, having language to attach to the type of love I feel makes me feel confident and in control. Now I know that what Ben probably felt was Eros love. And the love I had in return for him was more along the lines of Phileo love.

So, I hope you take this arsenal of language and use it to beautifully depict your feelings and adoration for others. Don’t let the L-word scare you. Loving is human and language makes it easier.

Happy loving!