Affection and friendship

Can one have affection for another without eros getting in the way?

What is friendship?

There seems to be no understanding of friendship or minimal understanding of what friendship is. Friendship is a sharing of common interests. Persons carry their whole lives with them and reveal small pieces to one another. There is a trust in friendship. One can admire the other as a friend and even have a great affection for them that is removed from eros.

We tend to confuse affection with always containing eros. Does affection contain eros? Of course. But, for instance, a man loves his wife with an affection that is similar to friendship, but also with eros.

A friendship that contains affection may contain eros, but it does not always. We confuse ourselves. Just because I may be attracted to someone of the opposite sex, does not mean I have eros toward her, but I will have an affection toward her.

Affection is a great admiration. A joy that springs from getting to know one another. Affection is a recognition of beauty that contains truth and goodness. It is a meeting face to face where truth comes to pass in freedom and grace (Hans von Balthasar).

So friendship contains affection, but will not always contain eros. Of course, eros can come into the “equation”. But it doesn’t have to.

Eros is a very strong and powerful love. It is no wonder it gets easily mixed into friendships. Of course, eros is not a bad thing. But when put out of its order, problems usually ensue.

Affection is love as well. But is distinct from other loves. The other loves being philia (friendship), eros (romantic), agape (divine love). God, who is love, has made all these loves, and he has put them in the correct order. We are the ones who mix them up.

Affection is an excellent thing in its right place.

I am not saying I do these things perfectly or that we must. But I am saying that there are distinctions. Lord, have mercy.

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