The three forms of love: Eros, Philos, Agape

Paulo Coelho


The band struck up a waltz. People moved to a small paved area in front of the band-stand to dance. The alcohol began to show its effect and they all became merrier and drenched in sweat. I noticed a girl dressed in blue who must have been waiting for this wedding just for the moment of the waltz to arrive because she wanted to dance with someone she had dreamed of embracing ever since she entered adolescence. Her eyes followed the movements of a young man, well dressed in a light-colored suit, who was sitting with a bunch of friends. They were talking away merrily, they had not noticed that the waltz had started, nor had they noticed that a few yards away a girl in blue was staring at one of them.

I thought of small towns, of marriages with the chosen boy, dreamed of ever since childhood.

The girl in blue noticed me looking at her and moved away. And as if the whole movement had been rehearsed, now it was the boy’s turn to seek her out with his eyes. Discovering that she was close to other girls, he went back to his lively conversation with his friends.

I drew Petrus’s attention to the two of them. He watched them exchanging glances for a while and then returned to his glass of wine.

“They act as if it were something shameful to demonstrate that they love one another,” was his only remark.

Another girl was staring at us, she must have been half our age. Petrus raised his glass, made a toast, the girl laughed in embarrassment and made a gesture pointing towards her parents almost in apology at not coming closer.

“That’s the beautiful side of love,” he said. “Love that challenges, love for two older strangers who have come from afar and tomorrow will already have parted down a road that she too would like to travel. The love that prefers adventure.”

Then he continued, pointing to an elderly couple:

“Look at those two: they haven’t let themselves be affected by hypocrisy, like so many others. They look like they are a couple of farm workers: hunger and need have obliged them to overcome many a difficulty together. They have discovered love through work, which is where Eros shows his most beautiful face, also known as Philos.”

“What’s Philos?”

“Philos is love in the form of friendship. It’s what I feel for you and others. When the flame of Eros no longer able to shine, it’s Philos who keeps couples together.”

“And what about Agape?”

Tomorrow Agape will be posted here

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