When it came to love those Greeks sure had everything covered. This next style they differentiated was called ludus. Ludus, is a game-playing love based on low levels of commitment and seeing relationships as fun, playful and casual. Now hold on right there if you have already turned your nose up to Ludus thinking “Well, this isn’t true love then. Love is committed! Love is not all about games and fun!” I understand. I may have said the same thing before I became an “expert” on love and marriage.
I’m fifty-seven now. I want more than to ludus my spouse but that wasn’t always so. When I first fell “in love” in high school I was totally in ludus with my sixteen-year-old boyfriend Scott. We had a lot of fun together! Gracious, I remember riding the buses to sports activities together and just laughing and goofing off on those buses. We’d go out at night and sit on top of the tallest building on the UW Milwaukee campus and do cartwheels together under the moon. (The building door lock was broken so we could sneak in at crazy hours unnoticed). We hung out with friends, we were both on the Spirit Squad (I, of course, got voted Most School Spirit my Senior year so I was all about being goofy and having fun) and thus, Scott was not afraid of being too goofy either. But lest I make you think this was just a low-level boyfriend-girlfriend relationship that was all play and no seriousness, you would be wrong. Scott was my first true love. I dreamed of marrying him. I thought of him 24/7. I loved him very deeply and believed he loved me, too, back then. Thus, when he broke up with me a half a year later, I was devastated. I mean absolutely devastated. I sunk into a deep depression that lasted probably another six months afterwards until I finally started coming back into my own clear head space again. I say this just to let you know that though ludus may sound like a silly little puppy love it is not.
The biggest difference between this type of love and the deep, committed type you may be envisioning is just that: commitment. For some, they only want the fun and happy side of love and don’t want too much to do with commitment, at least not at this time. It often happened that one is hoping for the relationship to go the next step and the other simply has no more to give. I am sure that we can consider various reasons for this. Maybe the one that only seeks ludus was once hurt by a previously committed relationship. Maybe they are widowed and have no intentions of starting a new life with new person that requires a lifetime commitment and a lot of sacrifice. Maybe they simply have no more to give. These persons want the best parts of the relationship (the fun and play) without the potential for hurt. Only God knows why but nonetheless, to ludus someone has its purposes…for a season.
I may be incorrect, but it seems realistic to me that over time at least one of the partners would want, dare I say need, more in the relationship than just fun and play. Relationships are built by getting to know each other at the deepest levels, by becoming vulnerable and sharing in not only the good times and good situations in one’s life but also the bad times and the tough times too. Perhaps, because I am no longer able to converse with Aristotle or Plato to get a fuller understanding of this word, ludus has always been intended to have a short season. Perhaps it is only the precursor to something better, richer and something more fulfilling. Nonetheless, to coin a phrase that is relatively new to the English vernacular, ludus is what it is.
To be honest, I am not so sure I am ready for my teen aged grandson to want a richer love than ludus at this point. I want him to find a girl with whom he can first have fun, play with and laugh. I want him to begin his future love life with a friendship love that doesn’t have too many strings attached because, let’s face it, the breakups hurt. I do still want him to know what it’s like to admire, appreciate and respect his beloved. I will have no problem if any of my grandsons come to me one day and say, “Grandma, I met a nice young lady and I really ludus her.” My response? I’m happy for you, young man. Love is a beautiful thing. Love never fails.