Philia: What Is It And How Can You Benefit From It?

Updated March 9, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When most people hear the word “love,” they instantly think of romantic relationships. There are several different kinds of love, though. One of the kinds that probably gets overlooked the most is philia love.

What Is Philia?

To understand philia love, you need to first understand 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. It allows a parent to instinctively love their child, no matter what.

Eros love is the intense and passionate kind of love. This is where romantic feelings come from. It is the love that is present in the beginning of relationships and is connected to 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. It originated from Aristotle's ethics but has been used in different contexts since. We do have many synonyms or different words for love: attraction, romance, attachment, and affection. These synonyms for love all represent different experiences and feelings.

Is Philia Missing From Your Life?

Why It Is Important In Friendships

Aristotle established that there were three main types of friendships. These types were established based on the potential benefits of the relationship.

  1. Useful – This is when you’re friends with someone because there is a connection and the potential for the friendship to lead to something that you desire such as a job, business contact, or other benefit.

  2. Pleasurable – This is when a friendship is based on simple pleasure and enjoyment.  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. It is marked by a deeper connection and includes you considering the welfare of the other person.

Healthy friendships are an important part of life.  Perhaps, 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. The fondness and warmth that come from having a good friend cannot be replaced.

This is important in friendships because it is what allows your relationship to be healthy and long-lasting. Both people can benefit from and contribute to the relationship. This is how we form deep friendships that help us to better ourselves and grow as people. Attachment in such a relationship is also important because it allows you to have someone who you connect well with and enjoy spending time with. 

Tips On Building Healthy Relationships

It’s important to have friends in life. On the one hand, even if you’re in a romantic relationship, it is unrealistic for you to expect that one person to meet all your needs. For example, if you love going shopping but your significant other doesn’t, then this may be a good opportunity for you to spend some quality time with friends who also enjoy this activity.

Real friends are valuable because they provide you with a safe place to be yourself. Genuine, caring friends will not judge you or look down on you for your imperfections, and they won’t be afraid to call you out on bad behavior either. This isn’t always easy to find. Consider these strategies for building a healthy friendship:

Building Trust

You need to be able to trust a friend and have confidence that they are not going to judge you or talk about you behind your back. 

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 who 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 make an effort 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, even if it means just listening. Friends work to support each other and are there for one another, even when others aren’t.


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 in the long run, the truth is more important than just trying to keep the other person happy for the moment.

A Little Independence

Just because you are good friends—or even best friends—with a person, that does not mean that you need to solely rely on them or spend all your time with them. Independence is an important part of friendships, and it’s often what keeps friendship strong. If you want to maintain good, healthy friendships, make sure that you’re not smothering the other person.

When A Friendship Is Turning Into Something More

Is Philia Missing From Your Life?

If you find yourself in a friendship that is starting to become something more, the first thing that you need to do is be honest about your feelings. Your friendship will not likely 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. If not, then the two of you can decide how to continue your friendship. 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 romantic relationships start out as friendships. Others 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. 

Getting Help With Love

Love is not an easy thing, even 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.

Talking about love while sitting across from a stranger can be an intimidating prospect, even if it’s platonic love. This keeps many people from attending traditional therapy sessions with an in-person counselor. Online therapy may be a better alternative for individuals who experience challenges opening up about their feelings. 

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. 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.”


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. If you’re experiencing challenges in this area of your life, take the first step with a BetterHelp counselor today. 

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