Philia: Love In Friendships

By: Stephanie Kirby

Updated February 11, 2021

Let's talk about love! When most people hear the word "love," they instantly think of romantic relationships. That's what love is, right? Well, kind of. There are actually several different kinds of love. One of the kinds that probably gets thought about the least is philia love.

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What Is Philia Love?

To understand philia love, you need a quick background in the different types of love.

Agape love is unconditional love. This is the greatest type of love and what people seek most often. It's a love that accepts you for who you are, despite your flaws and imperfections. This is known as the highest form of love. It is pure and completely unselfish.

Storge love is also known as familial love. This is the type of love that happens naturally within most parent-child relationships. This is the love that allows a parent to instinctively love their child, no matter what.

Eros love is the intense and passionate love. This is where romantic feelings come from. It is the love that is present in the beginning of relationships that's connected with sex and emotions. It's not necessarily a lasting love, but it can turn into that.

Philia love is the love of friendship. In Greek, Philia means brotherly love.

A Little More About Philia Love

While philia love is brotherly love, it's also an important part of marriage and long-term relationships.

To have a successful long-term relationship, it's important that you are friends with the other person, too. This means that you need to enjoy doing things and share similar interests. It does not mean that you need to share everything in common. But think of your friendships; you most likely aren't friends with people that you don't have things in common with. For the same reason, it's important that you have this type of love for your spouse or significant other, as well. But let's get back to how philia love impacts your friendships.

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Why Philia Love Is Important In Friendships

Aristotle established that there were three main types of friendships. These types were established based on what someone was getting from the relationship.

  1. Useful - This is when you’re friends with someone because there is a connection and you're getting something from that. It's leading to something that you desire, such as a job, business contact, or medicine.
  2. Pleasurable - This is when a friendship is based on just the pleasure that's coming from it. This could be hanging out and talking with your friends, or going out for drinks.
  3. Virtue - This is when a friendship is based on true friendship and not what someone is getting out of the relationship. This is a deeper connection and includes you considering the welfare of the other person.

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Healthy friendships are an important part of life. Obviously, the best type of love to have within a friendship is the type that is mutually beneficial. This is where you form your connections with another person and build a relationship based on trust and companionship.

This is important in friendships, because this is what allows your relationship to be healthy and long-lasting. Both people are able to benefit from and contribute to the relationship. This is how deep friendships are formed that help you to better yourself and grow as a person. Such a relationship is also important because it allows you to have someone that you connect well with and enjoy spending time with.

Tips On Building Healthy Relationships

It's important to have friends in life. Even if you're in a romantic relationship, it is unrealistic for you to expect that one person to meet all of your needs. For example, if you love going shopping and picking up new clothes and your significant other can't stand it, it's a great time for you to spend with some friends that have something in common with you.

Real friends are also incredibly valuable because they provide you with a safe place to bounce ideas back and forth. Real friends will not judge you or look down on you for your imperfections, and they won't be afraid to call you out on behavior that you have that isn't quite right. This isn't always easy to find. In order to build a healthy friendship, you should work on the following:

Building Trust

With close friends, you should be able to share things that you might not be able to share with other people, and know that they are going to keep it to themselves. You need to be able to trust them and have confidence that they are not going to judge you or talk about you with other people after you have confided in them.

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Balance And Equality

It's not a healthy relationship if one person is gaining from the relationship and the other person is constantly giving. Oftentimes, people that have low self-esteem find themselves in relationships where they are the doormats. They're constantly doing things for the other person without getting much in return. This is not a healthy form of friendship.

Being Empathetic And Compassionate

Compassion is an important part of friendship. A good friend is someone who will stay alongside you when you're going through a difficult time. Even if they don't understand exactly what you're going through, they will work to try to understand it the best that they can. When they don't know exactly what to do to make the situation better, they will still be there for you the best way that they know how. Friends work to support each other and are there for the other person even when others aren't.

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Honesty

Real friends don't just tell each other what they think the other person wants to hear. Instead, they work to be open and honest with each other, even when it's not something that the other person wants to hear. They know that the truth is more important than just trying to keep the other person happy.

This is such an important part of friendship and something that many friendships are missing. Your true friends are going to know you better than most other people will and so it's important that they're able to be honest with you to help you see the truths about yourself that you may be missing. You should be able to do the same for them, with one caveat: real friends also know how to do this in a way that doesn't hurt more than it needs to.

A Little Independence

Just because you are good friends—even best friends—with a person does not mean that you need to solely rely on them or spend all of your time with them. Independence is an important part of friendships, and it's often what keeps friendship strong.

Many times, when people are trying to spend all of their time together, they end up burning out on each other. It's important to know that you can have more than one friend. There may be some friends that you were closer with for some reason, and others that you're closer with in different areas of your life. That's perfectly okay and normal. If you want to maintain good friendships in a healthy way, make sure that you're not trying to smother the other person.

When A Friendship Is Turning Into Something More

There are a lot of differing opinions on whether a relationship can be successful when you start out as friends. Some people believe that the best relationships start out as friendships. Then, there are people who believe it's impossible to have a friendship with someone that you're attracted to, which is an important part of a healthy romantic relationship. Therefore, they don't think you can have a relationship that turns into something more.

But if you find yourself in a friendship that you feel like is starting to become something more, the first thing that you need to do is be honest about your feelings. Your friendship will not continue to be healthy if you are hiding feelings that you have for the other person. Therefore, you need to discuss the change that you're experiencing with your friend to see how they respond. If they're feeling the same way, then your relationship can naturally progress into new areas. And if not, you've been open and honest and the two of you can decide how to continue your friendship.

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Getting Help With Love

Research shows that online therapy can help people cope with difficult-to-process emotions associated with relationships, including friendships. In one broad-based report, the overall efficacy of online counseling when addressing a wide range of mental health concerns was examined. Researchers combined over 90 studies—covering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and other disorders—with nearly 10,000 total participants, concluding that online therapy was an effective means of providing mental health treatment. The study specifically notes that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) was the most effective method. CBT works by helping individuals reframe negative thought patterns that may be underlying unwanted thoughts and behaviors—such as difficulty cultivating loving relationships.

When you are having trouble connecting with friends, family, or romantic partners on a deeper level, online therapy can help. With a BetterHelp online counselor, you’ll have the opportunity to reach out 24/7. When you want to discuss something from your session, have a question, or simply want to talk, just send your therapist a message and they will get back to you as soon as they are able. The mental health professionals at BetterHelp have helped thousands in learning how to create stronger relationships. Read below for reviews, from those who have sought help in the past. 

Counselor Reviews

“I feel real care and compassion from Dr. Sawyer. She read through and between the lines of the background information I gave her, and in our first conversation she quickly focused on my real needs and gave me effective work to do. I immediately felt a sense of hope and direction. I am very confident that I will improve my life and my relationships.”

“I am so happy I got paired with Ruthie Brooks. My sessions with her have been a positive and insightful experience. She provided me with worksheets and shared valuable knowledge that helped me get closer to my goals each week. As a result, I can see my relationships improving and I have a better understanding of myself. She is very professional, kind, and great at what she does.” 

Conclusion

Love is not an easy thing, even when it's in friendships. If you find that you're struggling with forming healthy relationships, it can help to talk to an experienced therapist. They can help you to identify any areas that are holding you back from forming good friendships and to spot any areas that you need to work on changing.

It's helpful to have people in life that you can turn to in times of need and laugh with during the good times. Even if you're already in a romantic relationship, having good, healthy friendships is still important—making philia a vital part of a healthy, full life.


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