Different Words For Love And How To Express It

Medically reviewed by Lauren Fawley , LPC
Updated September 21, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

You may have experienced the power of the words “I love you.” If you’ve had the pleasure of having a romantic partner say them to you, you may never forget how it sounded or how it made you feel the first time you heard it.  

Love has an expression in hundreds of languages around the world. Love may also be an unspoken language where lovers communicate their feelings with the gaze of their eyes, the softness of their touch, or the kindness of their actions. At times, the word “love” is tossed around without deep meaning. 

The ancient Greeks were thought to be the first population to study the concept of love in detail. They theorized that people express love in eight different ways. You may find new words to add to your love dictionary by exploring each category.

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Is What You’re Feeling Love Or Something Else?

Types Of Love

The ancient Greeks came up with eight words for love, including:

  • Eros 
  • Philia
  • Storge
  • Ludus
  • Mania
  • Pragma
  • Philautia
  • Agape

Each word of love in Greek may be reserved for different types of relationships, whether with romantic partners, family, or friends. Some types of love extend to multiple people, while others may not. 

Learning the meanings behind each kind of love could allow you to express your emotions more openly with the people you care for.

Words For Eros Love

Eros was named after the Greek god of love and fertility. Eros love is often referred to as erotic love or sexual love. It may speak to strong primal love and sexual feelings of desire that rise without warning naturally. Eros love is also often called an unharnessed expression of love. Some would say that it’s love out of control. 

To express yourself in terms of eros love, you might use the following phrases: 

  • “You’re so hot!”
  • “You smell amazing; it’s really turning me on.”
  • “You’re spicing things up tonight.”
  • “You look so sexy.”
  • “You look incredible in that dress.”
  • “You, the music, and the wine are so seductive.”

Words For Philia Love

In the Greek language, philia love is affectionate or brotherly love. It can mean love for a friend or fellow human being. Philia love was highly valued in Greece because it described the love between equals. Philia love means showing benevolence, friendship, and camaraderie. 

When you speak to your partner in ways that show care, compassion, love, and respect, you may be speaking in philia love. Regarding couples, philia love can mean you consider your partner a trusted, loyal friend. 

Express philia love to your partner by sending a loving text or saying something sweet, like the following phrases:

  • “Can I get you a cup of coffee?”
  • “Did you sleep well last night?”
  • “I want you to hold me right now.”
  • “Can we take a walk and hold hands along the way?”
  • “You look tired. Why don’t you go take a rest?”
  • “There’s no need to worry. I’ve got this.”
  • “Take time for yourself and do whatever you want today.”
  • “Thanks for being my best friend.”

Words For Storge Love

Storge love is familiar love. It doesn’t have to do with chemistry or sexual attraction. Instead, it’s often focused on kinship, family, biology, and instinct. It may be described as a comfortable love that feels safe. 

Examples of storge love could sound like this:

  • “I’ll have dinner ready when you get home from work.”
  • “I put gas in your car for you because I know you’re running late.”
  • “I can tell you’re not feeling well. I’ll grab a bite to eat on the way home so you can rest.”
  • “I love you, mom.”
  • “You’re such a good parent to our children.” 

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Words For Ludus Love

Ludus is playful love with a dash of eros love. Young lovers are often described as playful and flirtatious. Ludus love can be about showing your partner that you can have fun. 

Couples may lose some of that ludus spirit the longer they’re together. If your relationship feels stuck in storge love, you may be able to spice it back up with ludus love. 

Here are some ludus words that can be meaningful to your partner:

  • “The meal was wonderful, but you are even better.”
  • “I’m going to shower and would love some company.”
  • “I’m tired. Will you come along to tuck me in?”
  • “I’ll wash your back if you wash mine.”

Words For Mania Love

Mania is often described as obsessive love. It is not to be confused with the symptom of mania that may be experienced by someone experiencing bipolar disorder.

In this sense, mania love doesn’t necessarily mean that your love causes your behavior to spiral out of control or harm you or others. It often means you are consumed by the feelings you’re experiencing as someone in love. 

Mania love may sound like this:

  • “I love you more than words.”
  • “I can’t bear to go without you.”
  • “You are my world.”
  • “You are my everything.”
  • “I have to have you.”
  • “My whole world revolves around you.”

Words For Pragma Love

Pragma love is described as enduring, mature love that has been nurtured and taken many years to develop. It’s the kind of love that many couples may actively work on. Pragma love can require a considerable level of trust and patience. 

According to studies, commitment and communication are two necessary ingredients for long-term, lasting connections, and they don’t do well without each other. 

With pragma love, you may accept and love someone just as they are, flaws and all. You might grow to love their flaws as well. Express pragma love to your special someone by saying something like: 

  • “Let’s take a vacation where we can spend quality time together.”
  • “I don’t care what we do as long as I am with you.”
  • “After all these years, I still love you.”
  • “I wouldn’t want to live this life with anyone but you.”

Words For Philautia Love

Philautia love can mean understanding that you need to have some degree of love for yourself to be present with others. It’s not a love of money or possessions that make you happy. 

Instead, philautia often describes feeling happy and content with yourself so that you’re open to loving others in the same way you love yourself. Philautia gives you a sense of freedom in love. 

Here are some examples of phrases that express philautia love:

  • “I have it in my heart to overlook your poor choice of words.”
  • “I understand that your actions were unintentional.”
  • “I know what it’s like to be in your shoes.”
  • “Wherever I go, I’ll bloom where I’m planted as long as I’m with you.”
  • “I put everything I have into this relationship with you.”

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Is What You’re Feeling Love Or Something Else?

Words For Agape Love

Agape love is often considered the most wholesome, unconditional type of love. Some individuals may describe agape love as spiritual. Agape love doesn’t necessarily bring any expectations, conditions, or ties into the relationship. It may feel boundless or all-encompassing.

Agape love may make you feel that if you love someone, you will try your best not to envy them, make them angry, put them down, or hurt them. Agape love is said to persevere through the most severe trials.

To express agape, consider using phrases that express unconditional love and commitment, such as: 

  • “I love you just as you are.”
  • “I promise to love you all the days of my life.”
  • “My love for you knows no bounds.”
  • “I promise to love you in times of joy and sorrow, in times of failure and triumph, as long as we both shall live.”
  • “You are the love of my life.” 

When Love Becomes A Struggle 

If you’re having issues in your relationship or struggling to express love to those in your life, speaking with a therapist may help. Talking about your relationships with others in your life might feel too personal or risky. You may worry that they’ll tell your concerns, secrets, and doubts to others. A therapist can help ease those fears by giving you a supportive individual to turn to.

If you’re unsure if you have the time for counseling, consider online therapy. Online therapy can be highly effective for those wanting to improve their relationships, individually or as a couple. A recent study focused on individuals in romantic relationships and found that both anxiety and avoidance dimensions were reduced as they participated in online therapy. They also found that the individuals’ self-esteem significantly increased and psychiatric symptoms lessened.

Whether it’s relationship hurdles or individual struggles you’d like to work on, consider trying an online platform such as BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples. 


Love can be complex, but the ancient Greeks broke it down in a way you might use to understand how you show love in your life. Though love might change as you go through various phases of life, how you speak to those you love could make a difference. If you’re struggling with an aspect of a relationship or want to learn more about how to love and be loved, consider reaching out to a professional counselor.

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