Four Kinds of Love; Eros, Agape, Phileo & Storge

The Greeks had four words to describe what we call love, Eros, (romantic love), Phileo, (enjoyment, fondness, friendship), Storge (family loyalty) and Agape (unconditional love with stick-ability). I like to think of them broadly as;

  1. Eros-A love felt particularly within the body (trembling excitement, elation, joy), coloured and underpinned by deep and beautiful procreative urges. C.S. Lewis distinguishes Eros from natural sexual urges and lusts, because Eros is a state of the heart and while it is intimately related to sex, sex can exist, and often does exist, without Eros enlivening it. It leads to children, family, joy and laughter. It is good and right, but it is usually not enough to sustain a relationship long term. Eros is an exulted and beautifully idealistic love, usually between a man and woman, but can also be “platonic” and extend to deeply intimate friendships.  Socrates defined Eros as also working with the soul to recall knowledge of beauty, and in that capacity contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth;  While Eros can simply be an earthy thing, when Spirit infused and elevated to it’s true position, it speaks deeply of universal mysteries, and is usually most keenly expressed within the most sacred of all relationships, that between husband and wife. Eros suggests that even sensually-based love aspires to the non-corporeal, spiritual plane of existence; that is, finding its truth, just like finding any truth, leads to transcendence.  The elevated buzz of Erotic love is said to naturally fade within a year of its beginning. Perhaps it is too exhausting and all consuming? Perhaps we just get lazy? I don’t necessarily think it has to fade at all, and part of the purpose of this blog is to record my thoughts and experiences on Eros and how we can nurture and maintain this beautiful love in our lives.
  2. Phileo- If Eros is the love of the body, Phileo is the love of the soul. It is easy love and affection, it is bent towards our natural tastes and preferences. It embodies culture and beliefs. It’s about the friendship you feel towards people like you, with the same interests, social graces, and style. In the scriptures, this kind of friendship love is used to describe many relationships. God is said to have this kind of love for us and Jesus. Jesus felt this kind of love for his disciples, parents felt it about their children and children to their parents. It is not then a shallow love, but rich in emotion and feeling, like when your heart beams towards your child when they do something wonderful. However it is also described as a negative shallow love, natural and exclusive and conditional. Phileo is soul love, and it’s strength and value will depend on the elevation of the soul of the bearer.
  3. Agape-Is more of a parental, mature, sacrificial kind of love. The Thayer Lexicon describes agape beautifully when it says “to take pleasure in the thing, prize it above all other things, be unwilling to abandon it or do without it.” In a way it is as idealistic as Eros, in that it is a crazy love that will not let go. Agape loves, usually at cost to the bearer. Agape puts the beloved first and sacrifices pride, self interest and possessions for the sake of that beloved. This is the love that God has for us which inspired him to sacrifice His son and for His son to obey and sacrifice himself. It is the kind of love we are commanded to have for one another. It is a love of supreme greatness.
  4. Storge-This is the love of community and family. Often dutiful, sometimes unfeeling, but very strong none the less. It is a natural, carnal love, but powerful enough to be a real hindrance to spiritual growth, especially when family and culture are holding you down. It is a love that may pull you towards a lesser path. 

Obviously, all of these loves work together, but only Agape is free from the error of our humanity. Agape is the glue that holds the other loves fast and gives us the wisdom and patience when the other loves fail. If we make it our goal to always be forgiving and merciful and believe in doing good to all men, and then do it, the other loves will stand, and your life will be full of the rich blessings of Phileo friendships and intimates of the sweetest and loveliest kind. You will stand up in the midst of your family and people and call them back to walk on pleasanter paths and on smoother highways. So, seek first the high love Agape; that sacrifices, forgives and believes; the love of Christ, freely given to those who ask and receive. Drink deeply of Christs love for you, for the fathers love for you, of this eternal and perfect love and all these other loves will be added unto you.


51 thoughts on “Four Kinds of Love; Eros, Agape, Phileo & Storge

  1. Think about this. How do we truely love anyone in our lives. Love is not performance based in God’s eyes. True love of all is a matter of the heart. I pray for the Lord to heal our hearts, past hurts that have build a protective hedge around our hearts that blinds us from his love. And alters our ability to love others. All types of Gods love I pray will become as natural as breathing for me as I grow to know and trust him more and more. This is a process not an event. We can’t “do” love, we can’t “do” humility, this comes with from God’s grace as he transforms us and heals our hearts. Love you all, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart………………..

  2. Love this blog☺ I wanted to say love is a verb, therefore an action it’s not how you feel but instead how you act towards those that you love (what you do). It is often confused with lust or infatuation which are feelings. If it were a matter of the heart why would Jesus die for his enemies that were also sinners? It was a selfless act, an act of love!

      • Eros is not lust. It is love and it is from God. It is the bodies manifestation/registration of love which is the most encompassing and highest manifestation of love we can experience. Sex can be love infused/influenced or it can be infused by lust. Your sexual journey will be enhanced by recognising the difference and eliminating the selfish interests of lust. Many people are trapped lust/guilt scenarios. I hope you can experience love eros sex sometime.

  3. Is dere any way that uu can stop lovin someone u loved before! Cos am tryn to get someone out of my head n mind bt evry minute I try dt, it seems am hurtn myself n its like his footprint hs been printed in my heart, pls I need answers cos I love hhim jst too much! Tnk uu

    • I feel your pain. It’s happened to me too. What do we do with the love we feel for someone who no longer loves us? A lot of people turn that love into bitter hatred and resentment, usually towards the lost love or worse, yourself. But those of us who understand, cannot give any room to such negativity.

      After my marriage ended I fell in love hard… really hard. If Hollywood was right about love, if fairy tales were true, he was without a doubt my one true love. When we were together it was electric. He so inspired Eros in me that all night I would tremble. My heart was more alive than ever, there was no way I could sleep, my being was elated by the highest expression of all consuming love I could imagine possible. It was as if every other love was nothing and for the first time I was experiencing true love. Nothing changed that, I never lost those feelings, even after five very stormy years of his abusive, broken, off and on love for me. Eventually he married someone else and I was left processing what on earth happened and how to survive the pain of this unrequited love.

      One thing that helped me a lot was to identify with Christ’s suffering. He is the one who loves us in all purity, who is longing to share his rich and deep love with us, but is the most rejected and despised and misunderstood. Yet He continues to love and pray for us and seek our good. Christ is the rejected lover. I’ve rejected Him and so have you. Have no doubts, if anyone knows what you are feeling right now, it is Jesus.

      Agape is the high love that sustains Eros. Right now you are in great pain because you long for Eros. You long to share that kind of intimacy with the one you love. You can’t and possibly never will be able to experience that love with them again. People have their own wills and many avoid intimacy. The only true option left is to transform that love into a higher love, Agape. We do that by blessing them, praying for them and setting them free whenever we long for them. Time and time again, lift them up to God, but not asking to possess them, for you cannot.

      But what about the desperate craving you feel? What about the deep aching loneliness now that love has gone? You have experienced something, you have tasted love at its best and it is hard to be without it. I’m still processing my loss, I still miss and long for him, but I have learnt to let Christ be my lover. I rest in His arms and listen to His heart and He fills my longings. Ask and you shall receive. Read Song of Songs and open your heart to the great Eternal Lover. Let this trial be transformed by love and you will shine again.

      • This is a very deep experience for you. I’m glad you’ve learnt to identify with Gods love through Jesus. Jesus is the greatest lover of all. I’m just also thinking that you can share more of your experience with many more people who are aching because of a loss of Love. This peace you have written inspired and encouraged me alot. Weldone and thank you

      • You know many people find it difficult to discern between love and Lust. This I think has been the biggest challenge in relationships. You see a handsome young man, with all the physique heaven could ever release and he takes your breath away. It’s easy to say you love him most especially if he has his eyes on you and comes with some thought provoking semantic word play. But we must check what’s the underlining feeling I have. The first feeling sometimes are that of lust so one must check and keep checking. I’m a Christian and I’ve learnt to allow the Holy Spirit do the heart screening for me. Because when emotions are involved in might not always be thinking right. And the Holy Spirit is never wrong. I’m learning every day and I know that leaving the feeling detection in the hands of the Holy Spirit is the best option. Jesus is the best lover ever and walking With him I’ve learnt how to love and be loved right. I won’t have a heart break if He’s the one handling my heart. Thanks for the work on this site. God bless you

      • I understand what you are saying, but I have found that heart break comes and is often a necessary process that God chooses to enlarge and test our hearts. He may bruise us only to later heal us. Look at Hosea. His love for Gods chosen woman and the pain associated with that prepared his heart to understand how God felt about the spiritual adultery of his people. We experience great challenges as Christians, but in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer.

    • Hi, I don’t think so. Once I was in love with this man. The relationship in that manner could not happen. So I went to our loving Father and ask Him to take the love that I had for this man. Almost, right away, I could hear Him and say in such a loving voice, no He said if I take the love out, I take my self out. Right away, I said Lord no. He talked to me and told He was going to fix it and with time He made it much easier to deal with it. There was a change of love, it was different, it wasn’t difficult any more, but I still loved the person, only much different.

      • I agree with your conclusion. There is a time when we love someone and for some reason it cannot be returned or fulfilled. This is where we decide to continue to love while experiencing a dying to the self life which wants what may not be possible. It teaches us patience and surrender. Good work.

  4. Pingback: 2 ways to love in Turkey | Love.Life.Istanbul

  5. I’m 63. For the first time in my life I found true deep love. It lasted 9 months. Very long story to go into. I know God has no left me. But I have cried day and night for the past three months. First time for true love for both of us. I don’t know if I can explain this but, I have loist my soul to this man. I don’t feel bitterness toward the breakup because he took my heart and soul. It lives in him from now until death. He told me to always remember no matter what, whether he was there are any where that he loved me and always will. How do 2 people love so deep and be apart? I have forever changed. We both believed God brought us together to love each other, but circumstances had a different idea. He ask me once to wait on him and I promised I would. There are days I feel God speaks to me and says have patience my child, you will be together.

    • Wow. Do I get your pain! Not even Solomon with all his wisdom could understand what happens between a man and a maid. It is very deep and does inspire us to give all of our heart and soul.
      Firstly you are blessed to know such love, Eros. But we are not perfect and stuff happens, circumstances intervene and we are apart. All I can say is whenever you think of him, bless him despite the pain he has caused you. We must always forgive but especially in love. Second draw near to God and find him as the eternal lover, as he is. Give yourself time and even one day be courageous to love again if you are so blessed. Hugs sweet one.

      • I do pray for him always. I could never not love him as he said he could never not love me. I just have faith in God we will eventually be together. I also don’t see my question to your reply. Thank you so much for responding. I hope it was for me.

      • It was for you. I’m still figuring this software out, sorry. You sound so gorgeous. More hugs. It takes courage to love. Never let it go and it will become a butterfly, dissolved of all impurity, agape infused; all bitterness of the old flesh dissolved and replaced instead with a thing of great beauty; fragile; delicate; perfectly balanced and totally gorgeous. Your morphing!

  6. Human love is never enough to fill our love starved hearts. But God is love and because of the work Jesus did for us, you can be filled unceasingly with divine love which far transcends earthly love. If you seek for Him, you will find Him, when you seek with all your heart. When you are full with Gods love, you do not need and ache and hunger and thirst, instead you are free to give and if you receive it is to make your cup overflow. Join my blog and follow me through the Song of Songs and see the kind of love that it here for you NOW in Christ Jesus.

  7. I just stumbled upon this blog, site whatever U name it on LOVE……magnificent !!!!! To share & learn about LOVE……I have experienced Agape, Eros, & Storage.,LOVE… The ultimate LOVE is Agape..Pray the Lord would pair U with someone who LOVES Christ & is following Christ daily..This is Utopia for sure..May this bit of Wisdom set U on the road to the only love eternally.

      • Amen to that. It would be so amazing to love and devote yourself to a Christian man of God, who is willing to give you love in return. Only God knows what we need and when we need. I pray that God will always keep me for whomever he sees fit for me in fulfilling my life.

  8. We did a study on the four loves in church and home groups about 12 years ago. Yes, it does change your thinking, attitudes, willingness to accept and to be open to others. It is why I open my home, spare room and heart to others. Why I have 20 guests a year. Why I invite strangers to my city, home and life, despite disappointment when I see they don’t reciprocate, but the Bible says to never expect thanks, appreciation or likewise in return. Do unto others as you would LIKE them to do unto you.

    In September 2015, I had a Facebook message from an Australian FB friend whom I’d known for 10 years online, and whom I’d finally met and hosted over Easter 2013. He was revisiting Cardiff, Wales with a friend for an Australian rugby match. He asked if they could stay, with me, as hotels were either full or pricey. I replied immediately, to say that I was away in Uzbekistan, but he could find a hide-a-key and let themselves in for the night. He was thrilled and grateful at the prospect. They liked my cosy home so much, they asked to stay 3 nights, in the end. I was glad to show love toward them. I have just received similar kindness, hospitality and love in Indonesia and Malaysia: eros, agape, phileo and storge.

    • Practicing hospitality is a very practical way to build our love muscles. Yes, we sometimes get done over, but God loves a cheerful and forgiving giver and we are blessed beyond our losses.

    • Amazing that is, sir. Certainly God knew exactly what he needed us to fathom when he commanded that we should do everything we do as though we doing it for him. Our ways should be framed in a manner that pleases him and not our loved ones. And yes, while I’m acutely aware that man’s awakening is so flattering that whenever he puts his energy into something he automatically take that as lifetime investment, meaning, he expects to get something materialistic back to his beloved in future time. I’ve come to a very sobering understanding such that when this was revealed to me in a form of preaching I had to confront my demons from inside with reference to the subject at hand (LOVE). It’s these articulated kinds of love that awakened me and gave myself different insights and perspective. I’m so excited I stumbled across this. God is love, only through imparting lofe that we may draw closer to him and begin to know him, indeed.

  9. Reblogged this on Meek…Milly…Musing… and commented:
    Learning to Love 🙂 I was introduced to these forms of love a recent Sunday past and I wanted to share my thoughts but this write-up expresses it nicely. I was introduced to the various types of love one Sunday there was something about the way it was taught or the mere introduction to new terms made me discover that there is more to it than the way I had previously known it. The expression of love in Greek and particularly in biblical sense is far more complex than a romantic love which dominates our society today.

    I strongly believe that understanding the different types of love can help us understand how to express it as we should or in a more meaningful way. Isn’t it peculiar that in ancient languages such as Greek there are many different words for the expression of love
    I want to continue unveiling the truth about what love is. It is comforting to know that on some level we all are experiencing love all the time but I long for my expression to not be led by earthly misconceptions but to be conformed to the will of God and be pleasing to his Spirit even in my expression of the lower forms of love. I like how this post has described Agape as that glue that holds the other loves together that unconditional, willful decision to sacrifice for the benefit of others?
    I want to love rightly and not go about expressing something that is parading around as love when it fact it is nothing but a fickle lie. I want to live up to 1 Corinthians 13

  10. I was wondering some things about love, not about God’s love because I do not have any questions regarding His love for me. But I was wondering about Eros love and Agape love and how are they relate to a man and woman. I see how many couples or people I know have Eros and I thinking to my-self that the best and only thing I want is true love or unconditional love. I see how many get stuck at Eros and it just remains a physical thing and it might have a little of Phileo mixed but it was never Agape or it never becomes Agape and it ends. I think that might be a problem with many especially now. But true love is for ever and not just for the moment.

    • I agree Francisco, the Love of many has grown cold. I think it is hard enough for people to love even a perfect God, let alone an imperfect human being. Forgiveness is everything and will never lead you astray.

  11. This article goes to show that loves comes in many shapes and forms, for both mind and soul. Sometimes it’s as simple as not putting sugar in your morning grapefruit and remaining disciplined throughout the day.

  12. With strong will and discipline, anybody can overcome any obstacles. You just need to trim the fat and start each morning with confidence.

    • Hey, thanks. I wish I could write more about love. I do have plenty in the pipeline, but have been avoiding the computer recently and simply journaling. But it’s good to know that while I’m chastening my lack of discipline, the hours past spent are actively working. Blessings, rich and clear be yours my love.

  13. Lovely contributions, all of you, and thanks to her kindliness, “Itchycoo” has created a loving context, in which the content of all love aspirants who shared on this blog could be truly heard, sans prejudice & other distracting elements.
    Since all boys Episcopal boarding school, I have felt Gods Love, and through the rigorous and remote schooling, the scholarly priests early on, the Greek distinctions of love, missing in our American culture.
    GOD IS LOVE. Can we ask for anything more? Still the Greek distinctions of love can serve me greatly: AGAPE – Gods infinite Love for man, and mans more limited yet heartfelt Love for Him, through the beauty of edifices such as the Sistine Chapel and the breathtaking cathedrals of Europe standing centuries hard by, with acoustical genius for choir and sermon, all up raised in praise of Him. , not to mention the art of ages and all religions. Just to visit the inside of one of these buildings makes my heart soar and takes me to another level of spirituality, knowing that some monuments to the Lord took 1000 years to build, & just one pulpit took one craftsman his entire lifetime to carve the marbel, 3 – D biblical scenery on that one part. That, my friend is Agape.
    PHILEO – Brotherly love, and the endless love of a mother for her child, not romantic, but SUCH A DIFFERENT LOVE, so powerful, it’s not uncommon to hear of one giving their earthly body to save the other without hesitation.
    EROS – Most creatively popularized between man and woman in song and poem, so misunderstood, and yet God given, and the intimacy, and yes, closeness, passion, attraction, right up to the chemistry of climax, serves Gods purposes in ways no intellectual construct could come close to. How else are we to know the everlasting bliss that awaits those who choose to give and forgive and love unconditionally, the bliss being only hundreds of times greater than the few occasional seconds of ecstasy we desciples/students get a taste of this lifetime. And think of the opportunities it gives us in relationship to forgive, especially the “least deserving of forgiveness” & to align with each other in a common purpose blessed by our Lord and communicated through the Holy Spirit, that such power can permeate the Earth and raise the level of the “Spiritual”sea just one millimeter which is all it takes from each of us, because we all make a difference, when it comes to reflecting God’s purpose or function for us in this life.
    Finally, and perhaps least understood:
    STORGE – Among integrity and humility this is the one manifestation of love that separates the men from the boys. Can and will I do the right and life enhancing thing, with no audience? Will I make that choice each and every time even and especially when I don’t feel like it? Do I know who’s looking up to me in my family & community? Am I being a good ancestor? who’s looking to me for leadership and for proof that God lives through all of us? Am I a man of my word, in other words is my word and who I am equal and the same? This My Friend Is Love on the same level as the great avatars and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Spiritual genius that he was, showed us the big picture, warned us of the wolf in sheeps clothing, and yet left us with the spiritualbtools for these responsibilities to be met. Will we follow in his footsteps and lift the entire community as he did? Or will we be hiding in our closet but still praying out loud so people can hear?
    I believe the instructions are clear enough, and if we need help, I like to pray to the Holy Spirit for the miracle needed After all, I’ve turned myself over to God now, all of it, so I’m his problem, when somethings needed in His Holy Name.

  14. LOVE is Divine, and it has to do with various form of feelings. It is best to have the agape kind of love, because that is the only kind of love that is free from all forms human error.

    • I agree. The agape is the love which underpins all other loves. Indeed without agape and the personal presence and example of Christ the other loves can never truly be attained.

  15. I hope you don’t mind but I copied and pasted this to a forum I am a member of and we are discussing the commandment of love. I left all your credentials in the title in the paste. I looked at other explanations but yours is very easy to read and understand. Thank you for sharing!

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