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The concept of a lovemap was originated by John Money to assist a discussion of why people like what they enjoy sexually and erotically. According to Money, it is "a developmental representation or template in the mind and in the brain depicting the idealized lover and the idealized program of sexual and erotic activity projected in imagery or actually engaged in with that lover."
According to Money, the word lovemap was first used in 1980 in an article entitled: “Pairbonding and Limerence”. Before this time, as he states, Money began to talk about lovemaps, in precursory form, with his students in lectures.
Money describes the formation of an individual's lovemap as similar to the acquisition of a native language, in that it bears the mark of his or her own unique individuality, similar to an accent in a spoken language. A lovemap is usually quite specific as to details of the physiognomy, build, race, color, temperament, manner, etc. of the ideal lover (p. 29). Since its inception, the concept of “love maps”, applied to interpersonal relationships, has found apt acceptance and is frequently referenced in love / relationship / sexual-evolution theory books; as for example in Wilson and McLaughlin’s 2001 The Science of Love.
In "Gay, Straight, and In-Between: The Sexology of Erotic Orientation," Money suggests that love is like a Rorschach (ink blot) test, where if projections (shaped by a body/mind's lovemap) on the other are mutual, pair-bonding occurs, typically in a courtship phase of mating. (pp. 127–128) 
Money analyzed a large range of sexual predilictions and behaviors using this model of the "lovemap". In Lovemaps, some of the most notable concepts include:
- Heterosexual lovemaps – love mappings associative to persons of the opposite gender.
- Homosexual lovemaps – love mappings associative to persons of the same gender.
- Vandalized lovemaps – these occur when the love mapping process or neurological template development stage becomes traumatized, as when a young child is either exposed to, or forced to participate in such inappropriate behaviors as pedophilia, incest, or sexual sado-masochism. Such a lovemap is typically formed between the ages of two to eight. A vandalized lovemap is often an atypical lovemap.
- Paraphilic lovemaps – when lust is attached to fantasies and practices that are socially forbidden, disapproved, ridiculed, or penalized; sometimes as the result of residual imprinted memories from certain traumatic or unusual episodes from early childhood, or sometimes the result of various physiological anomalies such as the presence of a micropenis, a chromosomal abnormality (45, X/46, XY), or of accelerated growth (premature puberty).
- Native lovemap - by analogy with native language, is a lovemap that has become personal and inalienable/indestructible/immutable through assimilation as one's own, regardless of how many of its attributes are shared or not shared by others.
- Klismaphilic lovemap – specifies both in fantasy and performance that the person will be sexually and erotically aroused, and orgasm achieved, only if the partner participates in a scenario of administering an enema.
- Acrotomophilic lovemap – specifies a paraphilia of the stigmatic/eligibilic type in which sexual and erotic arousal and facilitation of attainment of orgasm are responsive to, and dependent upon a partner who is an amputee, or in extreme cases a thalidomide baby who has reached adulthood.
- Zoophilic lovemap – specifies a paraphilia of the stigmatic/eligibilic type in which sexual and erotic arousal and facilitation of attainment of orgasm are responsive to, and dependent upon engaging in cross-species sexual activities, that is, with an animal.
- Stigmatic/eligibilic paraphilia - loosely, a paraphilia in the class of paraphilias characterized by Money as incorporating lust into the "lovemap" by focusing sexual behavior only upon sexual objects undeserving of reciprocal respect, who do not belong to a group the person identifies as too pure to engage with in sexual relations (e.g., especially extreme manifestations of the Madonna-whore complex).
Notes and references
- Money, John (1986). Lovemaps - Clinical Concepts of Sexual/Erotic Health and Pathology, Paraphilia, and Gender Transposition in Childhood, Adolescence, and Maturity. New York: Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-8290-1589-2.
- Wilson, G.D. & McLaughlin, C. (2001). The Science of Love. Great Britain: Fusion Press. ISBN 1-901250-54-7.
- Money, John (1988). Gay, Straight, and In-Between: The Sexology of Erotic Orientation. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505407-5.
- Why We Love Who We Love - Dr. Joyce Brothers (Reader's Digest)