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Love styles are modi operandi of how people love, originally developed by John Lee (1973, 1988). He identified six basic love styles—also known as "colours" of love—that people use in their interpersonal relationships:
- Eros – a passionate physical and emotional love based on aesthetic enjoyment; stereotype of romantic love
- Ludus – a love that is played as a game or sport; conquest; may have multiple partners at once
- Storge – an affectionate love that slowly develops from friendship, based on similarity (kindred to Philia)
- Pragma – love that is driven by the head, not the heart; undemonstrative; pragmatic love with the purpose of achieving a common goal, as in a coalition
- Mania – obsessive love; experience great emotional highs and lows; very possessive and often jealous lovers
- Agape – selfless altruistic love
Clyde Hendrick and Susan Hendrick of Texas Tech University expanded on this theory in the mid-1980s with their extensive research on what they called "love styles". They have found that men tend to be more ludic, whereas women tend to be storgic and pragmatic. Mania is often the first love style teenagers display. Relationships based on similar love styles were found to last longer. People often look for people with the same love style as themselves for a relationship. These styles are akin to the Greek types of love.
Akin to limerence, eros is literally the love of Beauty. It is a highly sensual, intense, passionate style of love. Erotic lovers choose their lovers by intuition or "chemistry." They are more likely to say they fell in love at first sight than those of other love styles.
Erotic lovers view marriage as an extended honeymoon, and sex as the ultimate aesthetic experience. They tend to address their lovers with pet names, such as "sweetie" or "sexy". An erotic lover can be perceived as a hopeless romantic. The erotic lover wants to share everything with and know everything about their loved one, and often thinks of his/her partner in an idealized manner. The erotic lover’s reaction to criticism from his/her partner is one of hurt and intense pain. The erotic lovers reaction to separation from the partner is agony and despair. Those of other love styles may see erotic lovers as unrealistic, or trapped in a fantasy.
The advantage of erotic love is the sentimentality of it. It is very relaxing to the person doing it. The disadvantage is the inevitability of the decay in attraction, and the danger of living in a fantasy world. In its extreme, eros can resemble naïveté.
In a genetic study of 350 lovers, the Eros style was found to be present more often in those bearing the TaqI A1 allele of the DRD2 3' UTR sequence and the overlapping ANKK1 exon 8. This allele has been proposed to influence a wide range of behaviors, favoring obesity and alcoholism but opposing neuroticism-anxiety and juvenile delinquency. This genetic variation has been hypothesized to cause a reduced amount of pleasure to be obtained from a given action, causing people to indulge more frequently.
Ludic lovers are players. More interested in quantity than quality of relationships, ludic lovers want to have as much fun as possible. They rarely or never become overly involved with one partner and often have more than one partner at a time. They don’t reveal their true thoughts and feelings to their partner, especially if they think they can gain some kind of advantage over their partner. Ludic lovers choose their partners by playing the field, and quickly recover from break-ups, as they immediately look for replacements.
Ludic lovers tend to view marriage as a trap and are the most likely of the love styles to commit infidelity. They might view children as a sign of fertility of the parent or of the masculinity of the father. They regard sex as a conquest or a sport, and they engage in relationships because they see them as a challenge.
The disadvantage of this love style is the likelihood of infidelity. In its most extreme form, ludic love can become sexual addiction.
Storgic lovers are friends first. Storgic love develops gradually out of friendship, and the friendship can endure beyond the breakup of the relationship. Storgic lovers choose their mates based on homogamy, and sometimes cannot pinpoint the moment that friendship turned to love. Storgic lovers want their significant others to also be their best friends.
Storgic lovers place much importance on commitment, and find their motivation to avoid committing infidelity is to preserve the trust between the partners. Children and marriage are seen as legitimate forms of their bond. Sex is of lesser importance than in some of the other love styles.
This involves respect and understanding for another person.
The advantage of storgic love is the level of intimacy between the partners. The disadvantage is the lack of passion.
Pragmatic lovers think rationally and realistically about their expectations in a partner, and carefully select partners accordingly based on desirable, compatible traits. Pragmatic lovers want to find value in their partners, and ultimately want to work with their partner to reach a common goal.
Pragmatic lovers will avoid infidelity to avoid adverse consequences, or else view infidelity as unaffecting the core relationship. Pragmatic relationships carefully weigh the costs and rewards of the partnership. Pragmatic lovers view sex as secondary in importance, as a reward or a means of procreation, but not the primary function of the relationship, and view marriage and children as potential liabilities and/or assets. The values of Pragmatic relationships are very socially, culturally, societally, and occasionally economically, oriented.
The advantage of pragmatic love is practicality, realism, and enduring longevity, as long as common goals and values remain shared. This form of love is unvolatile and relatively stable. The disadvantage is a lack physical and/or emotional attraction between partners, as this form of affection is mainly cerebral in nature, putting the relationship in potential danger should either partner develop a more passionate Love Style towards an outsider to the partnership. Pragmatic love should not be considered as negative type of love attitude. In collectivist culture where arranged marriage is practiced, pragmatic love is very common at the time of mate selection (Chaudhuri, 2004). One must be culturally sensitive to have an understanding regarding pragmatic love.
Manic lovers often have low self-esteem and place much importance on their relationship. Manic lovers speak of their partners in possessives and superlatives, and feel they "need" their partners. Love is a means of rescue, or a reinforcement of value. Manic lovers often discover their partners by haphazard means.
Manic lovers will avoid committing infidelity if they fear discovery. They view marriage as ownership, and children as either competition or a substitute for their lover. Sex is a reassurance of love. Manic lovers are often anxious or insecure, and they can be extremely jealous. Manic lovers respond well to therapy, and often grow out of this style.
The advantage of manic love is intensity. The disadvantages include jealousy, possessiveness, and insatiability. In its extreme, mania becomes obsession or codependency. One example from real life can be found in the unfortunate John Hinckley, Jr., a mentally disturbed individual who attempted to assassinate US President Ronald Reagan, due to a misperception that this would prompt the actress Jodie Foster to finally reciprocate his obsessive love. Hinckley's continuing behavior to date would seem to show that he has not been able to transcend his obsession, and this would again seem to be consistent with a deviant form of manic love.
Agapic love is self-sacrificing, all-encompassing love.
Agapic lovers view their partners as blessings and wish to take care of them. The agapic lover gets more pleasure from giving in a relationship than from receiving. They will remain faithful to their partners to avoid causing them pain and often wait patiently for their partners after a break-up. Marriage and children are sacred trusts, and sex is a gift between two people.
The agapic lover is very forgiving, patient, understanding, loyal, and willing to make sacrifices for his/her partner. Agapic love believes itself to be unconditional, though lovers taking an agapic stance to relationships risk suffering from inattention to their own needs.
The advantage of agapic love is its generosity. A disadvantage is that it can induce feelings of guilt or incompetence in a partner. In its deviant form, agape can become martyrdom. Martyrdom for principle may be acceptable; martyrdom to maintain a relationship is considered psychologically unhealthy.
Hendrick and Hendrick (1986) developed a self-report questionnaire measure of Lee's love styles, known as the Love Attitudes Scale (LAS). A shortened version of the LAS, presumably for researchers trying to keep their surveys as concise as possible, was later published, and other variations appear to have been used by some researchers.
Respondents indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with the LAS items, examples of which include "My partner and I have the right physical 'chemistry'" (Eros) and "Our love is the best kind because it grew out of a long friendship" (Storge). Depending on the version of the LAS one administers, there are from 3–7 items for each of the six styles described above.
The article referenced following illustrates the use of the LAS.
- Fricker J, Moore S (2002). "Relationship Satisfaction: The role of Love Styles and Attachment Styles". Current Research in Social Psychology 7 (11).
In 2007, researchers from the University of Pavia led by Dr Enzo Emanuele have provided evidence of a genetic basis for individual variations in Lee's love styles, with Eros being linked to the dopamine system and Mania to the serotonin system.
- Lee JA (1973). Colours of love: an exploration of the ways of loving. Toronto: New Press. ISBN 0-88770-187-6.
- Lee JA (1988). "Love styles". In Barnes MH, Sternberg RJ. The Psychology of love. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press. pp. 38–67. ISBN 0-300-03950-6.
- "NCBI Gene summary for DRD2 (interim reference)".
- "Milkshake study reveals brain's role in obesity". Reuters. 16 October 2008.
- Hendrick C, Hendrick SS (Feb 1986). "A theory and method of love". J of Personality and Social Psychology 50 (2): 392–402. doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1992.
- Hendrick C, Hendrick SS, Dicke A (1998). "The Love Attitudes Scale: Short form". J Pers Soc Psychol. 15 (2): 147–59. doi:10.1177/0265407598152001.
- Emanuele E, Brondino N, Pesenti S, Re S, Geroldi D (Dec 2007). "Genetic loading on human loving styles". Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 28 (6): 815–21. PMID 18063936.