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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 – is a passionate physical and emotional love of wanting to satisfy, create sexual contentment, security and aesthetic enjoyment for each other, it also includes creating sexual security for the other by striving to forsake options of sharing one's intimate and sexual self with outsiders.
- Ludus – This style is used by those who see love as a desiring to want to have fun with each other, to do activities indoor and outdoor, tease indulge and play harmless pranks on each other. The acquisition of love and attention itself may be part of the game.
- Storge – This style of love grows slowly out of friendship and is based more on similar interests and a commitment to one another rather than on passion.
- Pragma – This love style is based on the perceptions of practicality. People who prefer this style approach their relationship in a "business-like" fashion and look for partners with whom they can share common goals.
- Mania – This style usually flows out of a desire to hold one's partner in high esteem and wanting to love and be loved in this way seeing specialness in the interaction.
- Agape – In this style of love one derives one's definition of love in being altruistic towards one's partner and feeling love in the acts of doing so. The person is willing to endure difficulty that arises from the partner's circumstance. It is based on an unbreakable commitment and an unconditional, selfless 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". Their study found that men tend to be more ludic, whereas women tend to be storgic and pragmatic. However, it should be noted that the study was conducted using students as the subjects - as the Hendricks state in their paper: "The questionnaires were administered to groups of students taking introductory psychology at the University of Miami.". Whilst the ludic love style may predominate in men under thirty years of age, studies on more mature men have shown that the majority of them do indeed mature into desiring monogamy, marriage and providing for their family by the age of thirty.,. 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 that the hormones and emotions cause lovers to bond with each other, and feelings of lust and feelings of love alternatively reinforce each other. It is very relaxing to the person doing it. It affords a sense security to both partners who recognize and see sexual complementation in each other and a sense of life's purpose. Sexual contentment lies at the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy of needs along with hunger and shelter. It requires both partners to accord validity to each other's sexual feelings, work on sustaining interest and maintain the sexual health of the relationship. A disadvantage is the possibility of the decay in attraction, and the danger of living in a fantasy world. In its extreme, eros can resemble naïveté. A partner not as sexually inclined may also feel one's physical body being taken for granted and may perceive eros lover as looking for carnal gratification.
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. Ludic lovers want to have as much fun as possible. When they are not seeking a stable relationship, they rarely or never become overly involved with one partner and often can 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. The expectation may also be that the partner is also similarly minded. If a relationship materializes it would be about having fun, playing pranks on each other and indulging in activities together. 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.
Storge is familial love. There is a love between siblings, spouses, cousins, parents and children. Storge necessitates certain familial loyalties, responsibilities, duties and entitlements. The dwelling is to be sanctuary for its members and all members of a family are to pull through together in difficult times. Except for marriage, all other relationships have existed often by blood for as long as the individuals have known each other. In marriage, a couple, who formerly did not accord each other this love, promise to extend and build this love and form a new bond of kinship. Family members hold each other in good esteem to the outside world. Trash talk undermines the connected family reputations. In many judicial systems a family member cannot be asked to testify in court against a member of one's immediate family for a crime external to family. Storgic love often develops gradually out of friendship, or out of extended duration of cohabitation. The friendship in some cases can endure beyond the breakup of the relationship.
Pragmatic lovers have a notion of being of service which they perceive to be rational and realistic. While they may be sincere about being useful themselves it also translates to also having expectations in a partner and of the relationship. They tend to select and reject partners accordingly based on what they perceive 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.
The practicality and realism of pragmatic love often aides longevity of the relationship, as long as common goals and values remain shared for the duration. Excessive thinking along these lines causes a relationship to be seen for its utility or as a trade or exchange. The attitude can become disdainful and toxic if one sees the other as a burden. Emphasis switches to earning, affordability, child care or home service. Pragmatic love, as a form of cooperation or symbiosis 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). Values are likely to be shared by a couple in developing countries, where survival and wealth building are often prioritized over other life pursuits.
Examples of pragma in books, movies, and TV include Ordinary People, Charlotte in Pride and Prejudice, and Frank and Claire Underwood in House of Cards. Political marriages are often a real-life example of Pragma style lovers.
Manic lovers often hold their partners in very high esteem relative to themselves 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 value finding a partner through chance without prior knowledge of financial, educational, or personality dispositions.
Insufficient expression of the love of mania by one's partner can cause one to perceive the partner as aloof, materialistic and detached. In excess, mania becomes obsession or codependency and could come about as being very possessive and jealous. 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, magnanimous, altruistic 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.
Agape requires one to be 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. There is the potential to be taken advantage of. 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:10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.522.
- 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.