Love styles

Love styles

Love styles are MOs of how people love, originally developed by John Lee (1973,[1] 1988[2]). 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
  • Mania – obsessive love; experience great emotional highs and lows; very possessive and often jealous lovers
  • Agape – selfless altruistic love; spiritual

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 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. 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.

Examples of Eros in movies include The Blue Lagoon, Return to the Blue Lagoon, Pretty Woman, Working Girl, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Star Wars and Titanic.

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.[3] 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.[4]


Ludic lovers are players. More interested in quantity than quality of relationships, ludic lovers want to have as much fun as possible. Ludic lovers choose their partners by playing the field, and quickly recover from break-ups.

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[citation needed] of this love style is the likelihood of infidelity. In its most extreme form, ludic love can become sexual addiction.

Examples of ludus in movies include Dangerous Liaisons and Cruel Intentions.


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[citation needed].

Examples of storge in movies include Love & Basketball, When Harry Met Sally, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno.


Pragmatic lovers think rationally and realistically about their expectations in a partner, and select them via comparison shopping or shopping-list love. 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, and carefully weigh the costs and rewards of a relationship. Pragmatic lovers view sex as a reward or a means of procreation, and view marriage and children as potential liabilities and assets.

The advantage of pragmatic love is practicality and realism. The disadvantage is un-demonstrativeness and lack of emotion. Pragmatic love should not be considered as negative type of love attitude. In collectivist culture where arranged marriage is practised, 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.

Examples of pragma in books and movies include Ordinary People and Charlotte in Pride and Prejudice and Shahid Kapoor and Amrita Rao in the Bollywood film "Vivah".


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 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.[citation needed]

Extreme examples of mania in movies include Misery, Fatal Attraction, Play Misty for Me, Swimfan, Taxi Driver.


Agapic love is self-sacrificing, all-encompassing love. Agapic lovers are often spiritual or religious people. Agapic lovers view their partners as blessings, and wish to take care of them.

Agapic lovers will remain faithful to their partners to avoid causing them pain, and will often wait patiently for their partners after a break-up. Marriage and children are sacred trusts, and sex is a gift between two people. 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. "Greater love (agape) hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." - John, 15:13, Christian New Testament. Martyrdom for principle may be acceptable; martyrdom to maintain a relationship is considered psychologically unhealthy.

Examples of agape in books and movies include The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, Penelope in Odyssey, The Mission, Somewhere in Time, Titanic, Untamed Heart, Forrest Gump, The Bible[citation needed], and Shakespeare's play "Romeo and Juliet".


Hendrick and Hendrick (1986) developed a self-report questionnaire measure of Lee's love styles, known as the Love Attitudes Scale (LAS).[5] A shortened version of the LAS, presumably for researchers trying to keep their surveys as concise as possible, was later published,[6] 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). 

Biological view

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.[7]


  1. ^ Lee JA (1973). Colours of love: an exploration of the ways of loving. Toronto: New Press. ISBN 0-88770-187-6. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ "NCBI Gene summary for DRD2 (interim reference)". 
  4. ^ "Milkshake study reveals brain's role in obesity". Reuters. 
  5. ^ Hendrick C, Hendrick SS (Feb 1986). "A theory and method of love". J of Personality and Social Psychology 50 (2): 392–402. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.50.2.392. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ 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. 

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