We’ve all dreamed about finding true love. During times when we've been single, we've watched romantic movies and longed to find someone just as ‘perfect’ as the film’s romantic lead.
But is this kind of ‘true love’ real? Or is it just a figment of the imagination. Perhaps this romantic passionate love is just a myth that has been created by Hollywood script writers?
Psychologist John Alan Lee set out to find out if there are different kinds of ‘love’. Over a period of 10 years, Lee collected 4000 literary quotes. Each quote was a description of love. He also interviewed 1000 people, asking them questions about their love lives.
Does the Hollywood passionate love really exist?
It turns out that true passionate, intimate love does occur. And it is consistently associated with relationship satisfaction. In this article, we will discuss the context in which lasting passionate love occurs. And we will look discuss the factors that are likely to increase your chances of finding passionate love.
However, not everyone will experience such 'Hollywood passion' in their relationship. In part 2 of this mini-series, I will discuss a second kind of love that has also often been associated with relationship satisfaction.
Before we discuss passionate love, let's firstly have a quick look at the different kinds of love Lee discovered during his research.
Lee found 5 ‘Styles’ of love
Lee was hoping to discover a handful of love ‘types’. A good way of understanding 'types' is to consider animal species, or dog breeds.
- Type. A dog breeder may have a definition for a pure Labrador. Now many Labradors may not be ‘pure’. However, it is useful to have a definition of the typical Labrador in order to help distinguish typical Labradors from other dogs.
Of course some dogs may be crossbreeds: a mixture of two different breeds. Perhaps a particular dog is a cross between a Poodle and a Spanial. But knowing what a Poodle and a Spaniel look like, helps us to better understand Poodle-Spaniel crosses.
So it is with ‘lovestyles’.
Lee found five different ‘styles’ of love which consistently emerged in his studies. These 'styles' are similar to 'breeds'. They represent certain very clearly recognisable ways in which people tend to engage in love relationships.
The 5 ‘types’ are relatively distinct from one another. In a relationship, individuals typically have one lovestyle that they adopt as their primary style. However, they may also adopt some other behaviours typical of one of the other lovestyles.
People also often adopt different lovestyles in different relationships. It is therefore important to consider your lovestyle within a specific relationship
. You may well find that within different relationshps, you have adopted different lovestyles.
Which is your ‘lovestyle’?
So here are the 5 Lovestyles that Lee identified.
- Find out which is your 'Lovestyle'. A short 4-question quiz has been developed which is designed to measure how well each 'Lovestyle' matches your style of love. Click on the links next to each description if you want to do the Lovestyle quizzes.
Try to answer each question with one of your past or present relatioinships in mind. If you have never been in love, answer in terms of what you think your
responses would most likely be.
There are 3 primary styles. These are Eros
. In a moment we will discuss Eros in detail. So first, I will briefly outline the other 2 primary lovesyles.
Find out if you are a Storgic lover. CLICK HERE to take the Storge quiz.
- Love in a manner similar to the way you might show love towards a sibling, or a close friend. Storgic lovers equate love with familiarity. Partners know each other deeply
- Don’t really ‘choose’ their partner. The relationship just feels like a natural progression from friendship
- Do not experience intense emotions associated with their love. They do not express their love with strong passion. And they are typically not overly sexual
Find out if you are a Ludic lover. CLICK HERE to take the Ludus quiz.
- Experience love as a playful game. They enjoy the chase.
- Maintain a certain emotional distance from their partners. A partner must remain disposable. They are self-sufficient. They typically are not looking to settle down
- Experience more enjoyment if their partner is also a Ludic lover
- Will leave their partner when she ceases to be interesting or amusing
- Are happy to lie to their partners
- May have more than one partner at the same time
- Usually have an air of unavailability e.g. after a date that takes place on a Wednesday the Ludic lover might say ‘I’ll see you next week then’
- Have a wide range of tastes in terms of the kinds of people they are attracted to
Lee identified 2 other lovestyles. He considered these to be ‘secondary’. They contain elements drawn from the 3 primary lovestyles.
Find out if you are a Pragmatic lover. CLICK HERE to take the Pragma quiz.
- Have a list of qualities that they look for in their lovers
- Do not need excitement in their relationships
- Look for partners who are socially compatible and fit well with their careers
- Look for partners whose family background, friends and colleagues are a good fit
- Pay close attention to the opinion of others
- May well hope love will grow over time
- May leave a partner if circumstances change and partner is no longer a good fit
- Simply look for a partner who will meet some basic practical needs
- Are least likely to break up with their partner compared to all other Lovestyles. (Note this does not mean pragmatic lovers are necessarily satisfied – just that they stay together. A decline in ‘love’ feelings is not seen as a necessary reason for breaking up)
- May have an arranged marriage (an arranged marriage is a ‘pragmatic’ relationship)
Find out if you are a Manic lover. CLICK HERE to take the Mania quiz.
- Centre all of their thoughts around their partner. They also dedicate all of ther time to their partner where possible. They typically cannot get their partner out of thier mind. They constantly want attention from their partner
- Experience many physical ‘syptoms’ with love: e.g. sleeplessness, loss of appetite, pain in stomach
- Experience great jealously
- Are depressed and lonely whenever their partner is away or angry. However, they experience momentary joy when partner is happy
- In many ways don’t really like their partner
- Are lonely and insecure prior to their relationship. They often have no friends and hate work. They feel they are worthless until someone loves them
- Have typically had an unhappy childhood and are on bad terms or out of contact with their parents
- Will accept almost anyone as a partner since they are so desperate for love. They often have little in common with their partner and the partner is often a stranger before they meet
- Typically experience bad endings to their relationships. However, after the break-up, they also often feel that the relationship was of some long-term benefit. Many manic lovers feel that the experience showed them how much they could care about someone
- May continue to be troubled by thoughts of their partner for years after they break-up
‘Erotic’ and ‘Storgic’ love is associated with relationship satisfaction
Researchers have investigated whether there is a link between any of the 5 lovestyles and the likelihood that a couple will have a happy relationship.
- Relationship Satisfaction Studies consistently show a link between the Eros lovestyle (which I will describe in a moment) and relationship satisfaction. Some studies have also shown links between the Storge lovestyle and relationship satisfaction.
However, in the 5 studies I looked at, Ludus was consistently negatively related to relationships satisfaction. This means that people in Ludic relationships were typically unsatisfied with their relationships.
So relationship satisfaction has been consistently associated with Eros. However, as will become clear in a moment, many people will struggle to find Eros love.
Eros is associated with strong self-esteem. It is also associated with people who are comfortable and happy sharing personal information about themselves with others.
Eros is also associated with 4 major personality triats: Erotic lovers are typically more extraverted, agreeable (they have a tendency to like people) and conscientious. They are also typically more emotionally stable. Storge (friendship) lovers are similar, except that they are not necessarily as ‘agreeable’.
On the other hand, Ludic lovers typically demonstrated almost the exact opposite personality traits: they were typically less willing to share personal information, less agreeable, less conscientious and more emotionally stable.
Since Erotic love is unlikely to be found by everyone, I will also publish an article about Storge love in the future. As already outlined, Storgic love has been associated with relationship satisfaction in some studies.
In the remainder of this article I will now discuss the lovestyle that John Alan Lee called Eros (‘Erotic’ love).
The Erotic lovestyle does
appear to look remarkably like the passionate, romantic, intimate love so often depicted in the typical ‘Hollywood’ love story.
The Eros lovestyle is marked by five key traits, which I will now describe.
Few people will experience pure eros. Most somewhat 'erotic' relationships will also incorporate a little Storge or Ludus. So bear this in mind as I describe Eros that this is pure eros. Even if your relationships are marked by an erotic lovestyle, it may also be that you typically mix this lovestyle with elements of Ludus or Storge.
Find out if you are an Erotic lover. CLICK HERE
to take the Eros quiz.
Here are the 5 key features of the Erotic lovestyle.
- Are first and foremost, physically attracted to their partners
- Experience strong, immediate, physical attraction towards their partners
- Have a definite preference for certain physical features in their partners
- Struggle to find a partner who meets their physical ideals
- Experience physical excitement when they first lay eyes on someone who meets their physical ideals
- Can be very turned off by physical features that do not meet their ideal
- Are physically attracted first. Only after this initial attraction has occurred do Erotic lovers then attempt to find out if the other person's personality is compatible with their own
- Experience intense feelings towards their partner and share their emotionls openly
- Experience emotionally intense feelings towards their partner & are emotionally open
- Want to see or speak to their partner every day
- In the early stages, require frequent physical and emotional contact with their partners. A few days separation early on typically destroys the relationship
- Will shower their partners with attention. However, they are not demanding or constantly requiring of reassurance
- Are willing to share their feelings ‘openly, unashamedly’ and ‘with great honesty’
- Are willing to let their defences down and allow themselves to be hurt. They drop their defenses in order to ensure that they are emotionally open with their partner
- Experience a sense of inevitability about their relationship developing even in the very early stages
- Are prepared to discuss a possible future with their partner
- Typically require a slight shift in lovestyle over time. This is because the intensity of Erotic love is difficult to maintain for a long period. Ludic or Storgic elements can be added to help maintain Eros
a) Ludic stimulation: involves making the partner feel slightly jealous
b) Storgic tempering: involves shifting some of one’s time to more ‘friendly’ pursuits instead of 'erotic' ones. Spending time with other friends can provide a break from the intensity of Eros. The addition of children to the relationship can also help develop this dynamic quite naturally.
- Can be thrown into emotional turmoil if they begin a liason with someone who meets their erotic ideal but who does not return their Erotic feelings. This could occur if the new partner is simply looking for a casual relationship. Erotic lovers become emotionally vulnerable very quickly. If the new partner does not respond in an erotic manner, then the erotic lover has made herself emotionally vulnerable, but has not had her feelings returned.
- Embrace touching and sex as important elements in their relationship
- Are eager to sleep with their partners within the first few encounters
- Are experimental in the bedroom
- Experience love as sensual and sexual. However, they do not see sex as something that holds the relationship together. Making love springs from desire rather than need
- Either they, or their Erotic lovers have usually had previous sexual partners and are very comfortable and experienced with sex. Lee believes that ‘Being at ease with your body, sensitive to the needs of another body, and free of any puritanical guilt during sexual intercourse are qualities which can be learned.’ However, if two potential erotic lovers are not able to sexually communicate with one another then the spark of potential erotic intensity may pass before it has lit
- Require physical contact with their partner. Erotic lovers are also typically very tactile in other spheres. They typically have intense responses to artistic beauty and process information in a very tactile way
- Enjoy caressing and touching
- Typically find that their partner does not meet their personality 'ideal'
- Typically find that their partner’s personality is not all that they might have hoped for (since they are aroused by physical form before beginning to get to know the person further)
- Are always conscious of the positive and negative qualities in their partner and do not ignore or deny either
- Struggle to find someone they are attracted to who also returns their feelings
- Potential Erotic lovers may eventually settle for someone that does not meet their physical ideal and therefore have to settle for a relationship that is less purely Erotic than they would have liked
- Are content with life, not posessive of their partner and have strong self-esteem
- Are not desperate for love but are contented with life (though not apathetic)
- Enjoy their work and have some close friends before they meet their partner
- Have already experienced fulfilling love relationships (including relationships with family)
- Have strong self-esteem but are not egotistical, boastful or vain.
- Are either
a) Not jealous of their partner, or
b) Avoided being possessive. However, if they do experience some jealousy, then they expect absolute fidelity. In this case, if a partner were to cheat they typically say that they would end the relationship.
Erotic lovers in the a) category have typically never experienced a failure in love. Those in the b) category have typically experienced 1 or 2 failures in the past
- Do not try to force their partner to show more love. They prefer to show love through ‘gentle warmth’. They hope their lover will respond to this
- May have relationships with a number of people before they find their ideal erotic partner. However, they typically are not bitter towards their former lovers. In fact some past lovers may remain friends with the erotic lover
Certain charactaristics were typical of Eros relationships that failed
What stands out to me about erotic lovers is that they are happy and satisfied with their life before
they meet their partner. Out of all the Erotic lovers Lee interviewed, those who ended up having unsuccessful relationships had a number of things in common.
Unsuccessful erotic lovers,
- Were anxiously looking for love
- Were not optimistic about their chances of success. Because of this they ended up 'acting up' when they enetered the relationship
- Were not as fast to become emotionally or physically intimate. Lee believes this was because they were less confident and secure in themselves. However, they were so attracted to their partner that their emotions initially helped them overcame their insecurities
- In short, they were not entirely comfortable with their feelings and they struggled with their insecurities.
How can you increase your chances of finding Eros love
In order to answer this question, we need to fully understand the nature of Erotic relationships. Lee explains that Eros relationships are not an easy ride.
The rapid disclosure of self, early sexual experience, honesty of emotion, and intensity of feelings all make this a difficult lovestyle.
All of this means that the successful Erotic lover must be emotional secure. She must also have the capacity to manage emotional intimacy. Lee suggests,
A would-be erotic lover should if possible first put his own psychological house in order, enjoy his work, surround himself with good and close friends, and have a good relationship with his parents, before attempting an erotic approach to love.
Crucially, an erotic lover is not looking for love in order to feel fulfilled. She already has a rich and meaningful life. When she finds an erotic lover, she simply finds someone else with a fulfilled life who wishes to share it with her's. Lee says,
The successful erotic lover must not need to be in love. Rather, he finds someone to love, and then allows himself to need that person.
All of this suggests that if we wish to find erotic, intimate love we should do the following. The best thing we can do is to invest our energies into ensuring that we are living a fulfilled and satisfied life.
We would do well to work on nurturing our own emotional wellbeing. And we should not worry about finding love. After all, according to Lee, it can take many years before we find aperson who fulfils our erotic ideals and whom also returns our affections.
But surely this is good advice for all of us, whether we are looking to find pure Eros love, or are looking to enter into a less emotionally intense kind of relationship? I believe that any romantic relationship will be enhanced if we have concentrated on ensuring we are living a fulfilled and satified life before
we enter into a partnership.
Live Life Satisfied
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