What Is Fraternal Love?

Friends demonstrate fraternal love by being there for one another.
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English has one word to describe the emotion and action of love, but other languages have different words to describe the various kinds of love. Different types include fraternal or brotherly love, erotic or sexual love, storge or family attachment love and agape or unconditional love, according to clinical psychologist Linda Cohen, Ph.D., in a Psychology Today article titled “The Psychology of Love.”

1 Brotherly Love

The Greeks had a word for brotherly or fraternal love -- phileo. This was the kind of love and affection friends share for one another. It can develop into romantic or erotic love over time, or it might continue for many years as an enduring friendship that sees you through the ups and downs of life. In a committed relationship or marriage, brotherly love encourages you to be a friend to your partner and look for ways care for one another, counsels Paul Staup, a pastor and licensed marriage and family counselor, in his article “The Three Sides of Love.” It can be the kind of love that keeps you together after the spark of passion burns down to a steady ember.

2 Global Fraternal Love

Fraternal love is also the kind of love that encourages compassionate actions toward others around you. It compels you to do something when you know there are needs around you. It encourages you to offer friendship to someone new or help build bridges between social groups in your community or around the world. It can exist even if you have never met the person who benefits from your fraternal love.

3 Fraternal Love in Action

Fraternal love is easy to see when you express it. Your heartstrings are tugged when you see a news item about a family whose house burned and you donate clothing or household goods to help them rebuild. You hear about a disaster somewhere and you donate money to help them rebuild or you pack a bag and join the rebuilding effort. You see a homeless man on the side of the road and you hand him your sandwich or a bottle of water. You have compassion for those in need and you find ways to make a difference.

4 Global Need for Fraternal Love

The world needs people who care for others and are willing to put that feeling into action. It can build a bridge in a diverse community so that people look out for one another. It ensures that there are social services in place for those who need food, clothing and shelter. It encourages people to think beyond themselves and reach out to those around them. By expressing fraternal love, you make this world a better place to live.

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.