The Seven Forms of Love and Twin Peaks

Quotable Peaks - Love is Not Enough - Twin Peaks Blog

Love is a prevalent theme in Twin Peaks.  There’s so many songs about it in the show. The name of the fake soap opera within the show has the word Love in the title. There’s even a great fear of one of the most prominent characters that love may not be enough. Is he right. Is love not enough, considering how many relationships within Twin Peaks fails?  But love is such an inexact term in the English Language.  For example, how many of us truly believe that the love that Albert announces for Harry is romantic, but it most definitely isn’t?  Because love means only one thing to many of our heads…romance.  That’s the problem with the English language, one word has to cover multiple nuanced meanings.  The Ancient Greeks were far more nuanced in their terms, they had seven words for love which covered multiple meanings.  We will explore these seven terms of love in the context for a character or character relationships within Twin Peaks.  Perhaps then, maybe we could see what kind of love was Major Briggs talking about?  Maybe we can also analyze different character fates as to which form they prioritized in their lives.


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This is the most talked about love on Twin Peaks.  Eros is erotic, sexual, passionate love. It’s the romantic love that we all are familiar with. (Burton) These are the relationships between Shelly and Bobby, of Norma and Ed, of Josie and Harry, of Cooper and Caroline.  But I think the character that epitomizes eros the most, is Shelly.  Shelly is always about her passionate relationships with the bad boys, and that is why when the relationship gets too stale and away from the initial thrill of sex, she bails. According to Burton, “Eros has also been contrasted with Logos, or Reason, and Cupid painted as a blindfolded child.” So most of her love is without reason, just because it thrills her. Is that why she is constantly stuck in a form of self destructive love?  Is she always trying to have eros in her life and not fulfilling many of the other forms of love that a full and healthy life requires?

Is this what is the matter with a solely eros love? “It is powerful, passionate, and can dissipate quickly. Relationships that are built solely on Eros love tend to be short-lived.” (Smith)  It starts too fiery.  It is interesting to note that besides Ed and Norma none of the relationships that had their basis in eros lasted.  This kind of love isn’t enough.  Perhaps because there is no sacrifice in it.  It is whatever the other person can get out of it.  It can quickly turn the other person into an object.  Cooper sort of turned Caroline into his totem of failure when their eros almost killed her and almost killed him.


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Philia is friendship.  The kind of relationship based on shared goodwill, companionship, dependability and trust.  They relate to each other well through openness to change the other and be changed in return. (Burton)  This is the kind of love that Albert loves Harry with (not eros people, not eros!) Of note, this is one of the root words in the name of Philadelphia.  The relationship that marks this the best in Twin Peaks is obviously Cooper and Harry.  They have a shared goodwill to each other.  They change each other beneficially.  Cooper opens up more to his failures and his past mistakes.  Harry shows him that it’s okay to be human.  Harry also warms up to the breath of fresh air that Cooper brings into his life.  However, the relationship wasn’t enough to pull each other through the darkness.  Why is this? Perhaps, as according to Tracy Smith, they didn’t have equal footing.  Harry always deferred to Cooper, even when Cooper was working for him.

So who was the epitome of philia.  Also according to Smith, “Philia love is shared among those who have similar values and experiences.” Therefore, the best Philia could possibly be that shared between Shelly and Norma.  They not only bring out the best support for each other, but they both share horrific marriages.  They are both working class women.  They support each other. Smith accentuated this by adding, “The Greek philosophers considered Philia to be an equal love and valued it higher than Eros love.” So Norma and Shelly are equals (though Shelly is Norma’s employee).  What real boss would allow Shelly to run off like that mid-shift to see to Becky?


The Complicated Relationship Between Bobby Briggs and Major Briggs

Storge is the familial love, the parental love, but it can be very unilateral at times. (Burton)  Storge is the most poisoned of love in Twin Peaks.  We know that through the Palmers and the Hornes, even though some families are positive like the Haywards and the Briggs.  Perhaps many of these are doomed because it is unilateral and not unconditional or overly dependent. Therefore the epitome of the Storge type of love is the Briggs family.  For according to Smith, “This type of love describes the unconditional love that parents have for their children. It is defined by unconditional approval, acceptance, and sacrifice. This type of love helps a child to develop through attachment, encouragement, and security.”  Both parents want to see Bobby do well, but their love is not dependent on Bobby being a good boy.  The Major still loves Bobby even though he has to reprimand him, sometimes harshly.  I explore more of the Briggs relationship here. 


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A playful sort of love, Ludus is sort of like friends with benefits.  Or a teasing sort of seduction.  Flirting and undemanding. (Burton)  This could be a good sort of playfulness like the flirtations between Albert and Constance. Which works according to Smith because it is at the beginnings of their relationship.  It can also signal a reawakening of eros in the Jones marriage when Janey-E became playful with Dougie.  “It can only work when both parties are mature and self-sufficient.” (Burton)  Therefore, the fact that Laura treated both her boyfriends with the ludus type of love meant that it was destined for failure and thus became poisoned.  Both boys, James and Bobby, treated it too seriously.  Neither boy were mature and self sufficient enough to make the ludus work with any way uncommittedness.  They were both eros-ing over Laura and she did not want that.  That’s why we knew that we loved Constance and Albert together (well many of us) because they were both mature and self-sufficient enough for it to be playful. And that is why we knew the teenage relationships couldn’t work.  


Both authors consulted for this article have different views of what pragma means.  According to Burton, this relationship is the basis of all arranged marriages everywhere.  It is based on duty and shared goals. (Burton)  A marriage, sort of, based on Philia.  It can be solid and well meaning for each other and work.  However most of the pragma relationships in Twin Peaks were soured because of different expectations of each.  It seems that Pete wants more play (ludus) out of his relationship with the pragma-minded Catherine.  The Hurleys, too, have different expectations of the relationship: Ed wants pragma where Nadine wants eros.  It seems Sylvia has settled into a form of pragma with Ben who is completely over the marriage, perhaps letting it all devolve into hate eventually. The Jones, before the Dougie deflation, had a version of pragma as well as Janey-E falls into the role of caring for the oft absent Dougie, but stays together because of tha pragmatic form of love.  As Burton points out, this love seems to be okay, but it can devolve into problems and to the feelings of rote. Sort of like the scene where Janey-E is mindlessly getting breakfast ready and ignoring how ill-prepared the person, Cooper, who is standing in for her husband is for the world.  Therefore, perhaps it again, is not enough. 

However, Smith disagrees with his definition. “Long-lasting love is evident in couples who have been together for a long period of time. This type of love continues to develop throughout the years and portrays synchronization and balance. This type of love can only survive with constant maintenance and nurturance.” Therefore, pragma to her, is most definitely the Briggs, who are equals and a perfect match. 


Nadine Hurley | Twin Peaks Wiki | Fandom

Is self-love.  We all need to love ourselves.  Laura certainly needed to learn to love herself, (which she eventually did).  Many characters did have self love.  However It can devolve into a form of hubris like Hank had.  He loved himself so much that he became the only thing that counted. Many characters needed self-love or self esteem to dig themselves out of their own problems.  Nadine certainly did. Moreover she, according to Smith, who said, “ true happiness could only be achieved when one had unconditional love for themselves,” gave happiness to Ed and Norma only when she was able to love herself. But self love only works coupled with the form of love below.  (Burton) 


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This is universal love.  The love for all.  This is charity.  This is unselfishness. (Burton)  Smith defines it well by saying, “Greek philosophers felt that this is the type of love that people feel for other humans, for nature, and for a higher power. This love can be most easily expressed through meditation, nature, intuition, and spirituality. Agape love can be used interchangeably for charity and care for others.”  Margaret had this in spades.  Major Briggs sacrificed his familial love for the love of all by giving of his own life for the White Lodge’s cause.  This is the love that is enough.  It does last.  It does save.  It saved Laura.  Not only did her putting on the ring deny BOB the ability to go into her, but it also could have saved Ronette.  If BOB went inside Laura, she would have begun destroying, perhaps starting with Ronette, but who knows where she would have stopped with the killing.  So she showed a supreme act of agape for total strangers by not allowing BOB to touch yet another family, yet another soul with his evil and malice.  Agape love is enough for the Major.  That is why he gave everything up for the greater good.  Agape is the love that works. 

Definitions of all forms of love come from these articles:

Burton, Neel. “These Are the 7 Types of Love.” Psychology Today. June 25, 2016 Accessed March 24, 2021. 

Smith, Tracy. “What Are the 7 Types of Love.” E-Counseling. February 2, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2021.  

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