Three Types of Love


The Greeks distinguished between three types of love: philia (friendship), eros (passion), and agape (selfless giving). You can sometimes feel eros toward a person, without philia or agape, in which case all you have is infatuation. Or you can have agape without philia or eros, in which case all you have is admiration. Or, more likely, you may just be experiencing philia with a little eros but without agape. The person makes you happy. But somehow the explosive burst of selfless love never erupts. This is a wonderful friendship, but not the basis of a lifelong devotion. If an enchantment is going to be one of your life-defining commitments, it will already have elements of all three: intimacy, desire, and self-sacrificial love.” –David Brooks, The Second Mountain.

Although this is not a blog about love, particularly, it is a blog about living intentionally and living an examined life. Even old George Washington said, “I have always considered the partner one chooses as the most interesting choice in one’s life, the foundation of happiness or misery.” 

I have always been fascinated with how the Greeks have multiple words for one word we have in English. 

For example, Aristotle broke down friendships into 3 categories: those of utility, pleasure, and virtue or excellence. Since then I have come to think of my different friendships within those buckets, and really investing in the types of friendships that involve all three or are particularly strong in virtue or excellence. 

So, we need to take George’s advice and build a foundation in happiness by choosing to invest in a relationship with philia, eros, and agape. 

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