Six Types of Love

In a classic book titled Colors of Love (1973), J. A. Lee defined six varieties of relationship that might be labeled love.

What six different types of love did J. A. Lee define?

Eros is romantic, passionate, love—what Tennov labeled limerence. In this type of relationship, love is life's most important thing. Lee said a search for physical beauty or an ideal type also typifies this type of love.

Ludus is a game-playing or uncommitted love. Lying is part of the game. A person who pursues ludic love may have many conquests but remains uncommitted.

Storge (STORE-gay) is a slow developing, friendship-based loved. People with this type of relationship like to participate in activities together. Often storge results in a long-term relationship in which sex might not be very intense or passionate.

Pragma is a pragmatic, practical, mutually beneficial relationship. It may be somewhat unromantic. A person who leans toward this type of relationship may look for a partner at work or where the person is spending time. Sex is likely to be seen as a technical matter needed for producing children, if they are desired.

Mania is an obsessive or possessive love, jealous and extreme. A person in love this way is likely to do something crazy or silly, such as stalking. The movie Fatal Attraction was about this type.

Agape (a-GOP-aye) is a gentle, caring, giving type of love, brotherly love, not concerned with the self. It is relatively rare. Mother Theresa showed this kind of love for impoverished people.

What have researchers found, in studying Lee's six types of love?

Hendrick, Hendrick, Slapion-Foote, and Foote (1985) found that men were more likely to show the ludic type of love, while women were more likely to be storgic or pragmatic.

Studies of couples happily married for over 30 years showed that couples who rated their marriages as highly satisfactory described their relationship in terms which resembled erotic love more than the other five types. This might be surprising; in view of the earlier-mentioned finding that limerence type relationships tend to flare out quickly among college students. However, it might be the case that long-term relationships that contain both friendship and a passionate spark are more likely to endure and provide satisfaction to both parties than relationships that are low-key and pragmatic.

Which type of love was least familiar to students in an introductory psychology class?

In a classroom poll, conducted in two American introductory psychology classes of over 250 students each, the first five types were all familiar to over 80% of the students from their personal experience (their own relationships or people they knew). However, less than 10% of students knew somebody who expressed agape.


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