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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  1. nikka says:

    i hate to have friends
    im afraid to fall .

  2. Sammi says:

    Love is a eternal theme for human being. I believe that true love should last forever though I haven’t found my true love…


  3. […] The three forms of love: Eros, Philos, Agape Paulo Coelho […] The band struck up a waltz. People moved to a small paved… […]

  4. THELMA says:

    Dear Pandora, the grocer was actually with his wife. Only, after so many years, the only feeling left between the two was …friednship!
    Yes, I think, we Greeks were/are so .. sentimental! To give names, it means that they have been traced and experienced! Every ‘nuance’of love.

  5. Savita Vega says:

    To discover “love through work” – that, I imagine, is the place where not just two, but three, become One: he, she, and the Divine Within. And by “work” I mean not just the “job” we do, or the “career” we pursue, but the Path we walk, the quest we each assume in seeking to fulfill our personal destiny.

    There are relationships of lust, which quickly use up all available fuel and burn out. Then there are “relationships of circumstance,” where two people meet and come together because they find common ground in their shared circle of friends, the places and events they frequent, or the activities in which they are involved. But then, as each person grows and evolves and is drawn to move on to the next step in life, there is nothing on a higher level to hold them together, and even that love fizzles out. And finally, there are those “fairytale loves” that seem like all we’ve ever dreamed of or wanted – he imagines her as the “princess” in tall tower, the treasure he’ll gain only after many trials are met and overcome; she imagines him as the “knight” who will save her from her demons, who comes blazing in on a white horse, slaying all her dragons. And all is well, indeed, until the roles they have agreed to play grow stale, the scripts they have assumed grow repetitive and boring. Then each takes off his or her mask to reveal the true self beneath, and the fairytale becomes a nightmare. These are the loves I’ve known, each and all, great or small: there is not one that I could not classify into one of these three categories. And yet I believe still that another form of love exists, in potential, something higher still than any of these….

    Out there, on the other side of that river I dare not cross…or over there, just across the room, at that table I fail to approach. Sometimes things are just too real to bare – too real to be looked upon directly – they cause us to turn away…or to continue on along that riverbank, looking for a shallow place, a footbridge or a log, to cross.

    On that other shore, time does not exist and age does not play a part. Circumstances, in terms of daily material existence, are irrelevant. And lust – that burning passion we, in our society, so applaud and seek after – becomes transformed into a shared lust for the Divine in every form. At that point, two paths do not merely cross and move on, but meet in mutual acknowledgment and run thereafter parallel…touching, as parallel lines do, only at the point of Infinity.

    There are many forms a love relationship can take, but true unity perhaps can only be discovered when two people dare to step over that boundary (cross that river or that room) and enter into the OtherRealm of the Spirit. And this is not the culmination of the journey – this is where the real adventure just begins.

  6. orly says:

    we have in our life more philos then eros and we should be really happy- we have our family to love- friends- children– just friend-good friend best friend and the philo love is really special,,, and the most important- my husband is my very special all!

  7. Pandora says:

    Dear Thelma

    Maybe in the past life they were not just brothers and sisters?

    But I have just read that the ancient greeks had 16 definitions for Love, and we english now have only 1, whereas on Wikipedia it says the Greeks have 5.

    So now I am thinking, that the heart knows the true meaning, and the owner of that heart knows which love it means from the start.

    So maybe that is what is meant by the saying, that Love needs no words?

    I am having a wonderful evening/night and it is still young….

    Buona Notte


  8. MIT says:

    I can not control my love .. I have to quit being such shows as it is in my, I can not control it, let it be, let it be, The Beatle lyrics

  9. THELMA says:

    Pandora, now you remind me of my father. He came one day laughting from the grocery.. He said he had asked the grocer man about a woman who was there helping him, if she was his wife. He looked at her scornfully and said: She is my .. sister! Whenever I touch her leg, it is as if I am touching mine!!! Thats .. friendship, filos, for sure!!
    Have a nice evening.

  10. Irina Black says:

    Filos-a potential way to the lost Eden.

  11. Pandora says:

    Can’t you have friendship and love, and still have your thread intact?

    Plus experience universal love as well?

    Amor, Amor, Amor….


  12. munrocea says:

    aaah – and i’m sure that the boy and the girl thought their world of love unseen – but for themselves..
    parents (and in this case, elders) – you gotta love them…


  13. Alexandra says:

    I was always sure that only one man that could be my best friend could be also my perfect mate.I had an experience close to that pattern,but not exactly the real thing…maybe in future.Is dangerous being first best friends,than falling in love.One might lose a good friend if the relation wont work.But we must have faith.Now I am reading “Brida”, finally.Is really good,interesting,more than I expected.Better that way.Anyways,was surprised to see how hard is to find one book of Paulo Coelho.In the library one must be fast to get one,people take them all.Last year some books were always on shelves,no you find one only with great luck.Yeah,is that way.Precious stuff your books,dear writer…

  14. THELMA says:

    It is so vivid the way you describe the girl with the blue dress and the boy in the suit, flirting. Whenever there is .. Eros and flirt in the air, you can sense this invisible thread between the two Souls. We may be busy talking to other people, pretending to listen to the conversation, but our full attention and energy is ..focused on our beloved person. That’s amore..
    PHILIA, Φιλία, friendship is the … substitute of EROS. Whenever the flame, the spark of passion fades then we it Philia or Agape. So we … console ourselves for the BIG LOSS. We land..
    We take our ‘wings’ off and ..walk again on earth. ;] The magical golden thread that connects two souls breaks.

  15. Cristina says:

    Fantastica spiegazione Gina, molto bella ed esauriente.
    Com’è bello che il nostro Dio sia stato capace di adeguarsi alle nostre limitate capacití .
    In questo modo egli ci dimostra che sa “scendere” verso di noi, pur essendo Dio.
    Assomiglia veramente al padre che si china per guardare negli occhi il figlio, pensando “Io ti riconosco e voglio mettere i miei occhi nei tuoi per stabilire un contatto d’amore”.
    buona giornata a tutti.

  16. Gina says:

    L’evangelista Giovanni a riferirci il dialogo che in quella circostanza ha luogo tra Gesí¹ e Pietro. Vi si rileva un gioco di verbi molto significativo. In greco il verbo “filéo” esprime l’amore di amicizia, tenero ma non totalizzante, mentre il verbo “agapáo” significa l’amore senza riserve, totale ed incondizionato. Gesí¹ domanda a Pietro la prima volta:

    «Simone… mi ami tu (agapí¢s-me)” con questo amore totale e incondizionato (cfr Gv 21,15)? Prima dell’esperienza del tradimento l’Apostolo avrebbe certamente detto: “Ti amo (agapí´-se) incondizionatamente”. Ora che ha conosciuto l’amara tristezza dell’infedeltí , il dramma della propria debolezza, dice con umiltí : “Signore, ti voglio bene (filí´-se)”, cioè “ti amo del mio povero amore umano”.

    Il Cristo insiste: “Simone, mi ami tu con questo amore totale che io voglio?”. E Pietro ripete la risposta del suo umile amore umano: “Kyrie, filí´-se”, “Signore, ti voglio bene come so voler bene”.

    Alla terza volta Gesí¹ dice a Simone soltanto: “Fileí®s-me?”, “mi vuoi bene?”. Simone comprende che a Gesí¹ basta il suo povero amore, l’unico di cui è capace, e tuttavia è rattristato che il Signore gli abbia dovuto dire cosí¬. Gli risponde percií²: “Signore, tu sai tutto, tu sai che ti voglio bene (filí´-se)”.

    Verrebbe da dire che Gesí¹ si è adeguato a Pietro, piuttosto che Pietro a Gesí¹! E’ proprio questo adeguamento divino a dare speranza al discepolo, che ha conosciuto la sofferenza dell’infedeltí . Da qui nasce la fiducia che lo rende capace della sequela fino alla fine: «Questo disse per indicare con quale morte egli avrebbe glorificato Dio. E detto questo aggiunse:

    “Seguimi”» (Gv 21,19).