This is an analysis of how the six love styles pertain to sexual styles, personality, and relational satisfaction. The research explains a positive relationship between relational and sexual satisfaction with certain love styles and that love styles can change over time, since love is learned. The studies also show relational satisfaction with couples who have the same or similar love styles proving the rule of proximity and homogeny. This analysis will show love styles, sex, and personality are inextricably linked along with communication in order to have a satisfying relationship.
“Love can be among the most intense of human emotions, and is certainly one of the most sought after. People have been known to lie, cheat, steal, and even kill in its name, yet no one knows quite what it is (Arnold, 1996, pg.1).” The quantitative and qualitative research involved can help society understand the depth of love and how it affects human interaction. Humans are loving and sexual beings; they are both primitive functions of humanity. This also leads to relational satisfaction and which love styles would prove to be the most rewarding to a couple. This analysis can also give insight into how people view their own relationships and how it relates to love styles, sexual styles and satisfaction.
The love styles can also be linked to sexual styles. “Sex and love are inextricably linked to survival, so it should not be surprising to find a relationship between one’s approach to love and one’s approach to sex (Frey, 1998, pg. 1).” Because sexuality is such an important piece of a relationship and the love styles themselves, the sexual analysis cannot be left out.
In Dating Partner Preferences (Hahn, 1997) the authors say that people are attracted to others with the same or similar love style as themselves. And, they are also repelled by those who have dissimilar love styles. This follows the rule of proximity. “Erotic lovers, however, are quite high in supply, but relatively low in demand according to the results of this study (in fact, they were as preferred as pragmatic individuals). This finding was unexpected; it was hypothesized that erotic stimulus people would he the most consensually desired. Hahn (1997).”
In Sexual-Moral Attitudes, Love Styles, and Mate Selection by Lacey (2004), the study focused on attitude differences based on liberal or conservative viewpoints. Gender was also a consideration because of the Hendrick and Hendrick (1995) theory that men have a greater tendency to report the ludus style and women are more likely to report storge as a love style. Although the study found women actually also exhibit eros more often and express a greater propensity to choose a more attractive partner than previously hypothesized.
In Love Style Perceptions in Relation to Personality Function by Arnold and Thompson (1996), that love styles do not predict personality disorders on the basis of which style the person employs. The study also could not find significance in being able to predict certain love styles. This would coincide with the data from Differences in Love Attitudes Across Family Stages by Montgomery and Sorell (1997). The latter study found that love stages change throughout the course of a person’s life. There is a greater chance of ludus, no matter the gender, between young single adults. Eros is also more common among the young, but not exclusive. The study found that men and women with families would tend to value storge and pragma until the children were grown and out of the house. Once the children were “launched,” eros would once again come into play. This study surveyed men and woman of all ages, both married and single. The researchers wanted the most diverse data set possible to support the hypothesis that love styles change throughout the course of a lifespan.
Frey (1998) asks the question “Are Love Styles Related to Sexual Styles?” with the title of his journal article. According to the study, the simple answer to his question is yes. There was a positive correlation between eros and sexual role playing with women, but the same was not founded for men. The opposite is true for storge. The study reported that there is a positive correlation between men and sexual trance, but not for females. Frey says, “Mania, storge, agape, pragma, and eros were all positively related to preferences for partner engagement, whereas ludus was negatively related to preferences for partner engagement.” Partner engagement according to the authors is a special kind of intimacy, so the authors also allowed for sexual experience and gender to come up with mania, storge, and agape as the positive correlations for partner engagement. This is because mania involves being with only one lover, with storge there is already a close and bonded friendship, and agapic lovers are selfless in their relationships, which generally takes time to develop.
In Romantic Relationships of Hypercompetitive Individuals (Ryckman, 2002) ludus, pragma, and mania were found to be associated with a greater need to control one’s partner, greater levels of possessiveness, jealousy, and mistrust. The study also found when these characteristics are present they do not lead to relational satisfaction. Instead, the study found that couples may seek to continue the relationship on the comparison level of alternatives and the level of investment in the relationship. It also confirmed the other three styles are more consistent with relational satisfaction.
Waller and Shaver (1994) did a twin-family study to study the nongenetic influences on romantic love styles. The study found that love styles are not an inherited trait, but are due to shared experiences, environment, and personality. This is significant because children are not stuck with a parent’s love style, especially if they are subjected to mania or ludus. While the environment could lend them toward one love style, it is not inherited and can be influenced by other factors giving the opportunity for greater relational satisfaction.
Leak and Gardner (1990) focused on Sexual Attitudes, Love Attitudes, and Social Interest. The study found that people with high levels of social interest tend to have “nonpermissive sexual attitudes, while endorsing a companionship love style and disdaining approach to love characterized by egocentric game playing (p. 59).”
“Certain love styles lend themselves to relational satisfaction (Hendrick, 2000, p.210).” A mixture of eros, storge, and agape tend to be positive predictors of satisfaction. Of the six love styles, ludus is the only style that, on its own merit, does not relate to relational satisfaction. In small doses, it can be satisfying, but not as a dominant trait in a relationship. It is also the most independent of the styles because of the need to stay detached while game-playing. It has the least amount of disclosure (Arnold, 1996).
In contrast, this love style can be satisfying when compared with sexual styles in relationships (Frey, 1998). Hendrick (2000) also related love styles to sexual attitudes with permissiveness or casual sex, responsible sexuality, idealistic sexuality, and biological sexuality. Hendrick then related this to three factors. The first factor includes game playing love and can be characterized as casual relating. Factor two includes erotic, altruistic, and manic love along with idealistic sexuality and can be characterized as intimate relating. Factor three includes practical and friendship love and can be characterized as stable relating.
Wood (2002) states there are a number of things to keep in mind when it comes to love styles: most people are not just one love style, but a combination instead which generally eliminates the extremes, also that love styles are not necessarily permanent and that we can learn to change in order to gain relational satisfaction, and lastly that love styles are part of an overall system of communication and it’s affected by other parts of the relationship. Because everyone is made up of a combination of styles they are not necessarily good or bad, but what helps to make each person an individual.
The different love styles can be related to the dialectics theory. This theory deems relationships as managed rather than maintained. There are both internal and external manifestations which can be applied to the different poles needed in a relationship. This is similar to love styles because for a healthy relationship, a bit of everything is needed, but at different times. A compassionate lover might be needed one day, and an erotic the next, and an altruistic the day after. Relationships need the option of being cyclic, selecting a specific style that works for the couple, remaining in the middle or being neutral, and also reframing. Because it needs to be managed there can be a constant negotiation on how the styles are imposed on the relatioship (Johnson, 9/29/04).
The six love styles are composed of the three primary styles and three secondary styles. The primary styles are eros, storge, and ludus.
Eros is also known as physical love. “Erotic lovers are attracted to people who are physically attracted to them. They are eager to develop intense, passionate relationships, and they often experience fairly intense emotional highs and lows. (Guerrero, 2001), ” Erotic lovers also have a need for physical contact and closeness. This is also the beginning intense stage in a relationship when both people want to spend all their time together and show a great amount of affection toward one another. Eros are generally open and honest and are more likely to fall into a more conservative sexual group.
Storge can be considered companionate love. “Storgic lovers have relationships based on friendship, shared values and goals, and compatibility. Physical attraction is not as important as security, companionship, task sharing, and joint activities (Guerrero, 2001).” Storgic lovers like what’s comfortable in a relationship. This kind of love can also be characterized with platonic friendships and family relationships. Storgic lovers fall in love with their friends and don’t necessarily know when the line blurred into love.
Ludus is the game-playing type of love. “Ludic lovers see relationships as fun, playful, and casual; they view relationships as games to be played. They avoid commitment and prefer to play the field rather than settle down with one person (Guerrero, 2001, pg. 145).” They are also more likely to endorse casual sex and more liberal sexual attitudes in general. They can also be distant in a relationship and want to keep the other person guessing about their commitment level.
The secondary love styles are agape, pragma, and mania and are composed of combinations of the primary styles.
Agape is also known as selfless love. Agape is a combination of eros and storge (Arnold, 1996). “The agapic lover is more focused on giving rather than receiving. These lovers are motivated by an intense concern for their partner’s well-being. They are willing to make sacrifices for their partner, even at the expense of their own needs and desires (Guerrero, 2001, pg.146).” These individuals tend to be very committed and conservative in their values. They will also be more sexually conservative.
Pragma is also known as practical love. Pragma is a combination of storge and ludus (Arnold, 1996). “Pragmatic lovers search for a person who fits a particular image in terms of vital statistics, such as age, height, religion, and occupation, as well as preferred characteristics, such as being a loyal partner or the potential of being a good parent (Guerrero, 2001, pg.147).” This is like a shopping list kind of love. It is very careful and deliberate. This type of person will also not likely endorse casual sex.
Mania or what is also known as possessive love. Mania is a combination of ludus and eros (Arnold, 1996). “Manic lovers are demanding, dependent, and possessive. They often feel a strong need to be in control and to know everything the partner is doing (Guerrero, 2001, pg. 145).” A manic lover will strongly disapprove of going outside of the relationship for sex. This person wants total attention and devotion from the partner.
These studies are all very subjective. They rely on the subjects own definition of how they interpret the Hendrick love scale. Many of the studies didn’t consider age, ethnicity, or religious background which could have an impact on love styles. Culture is known to have a great impact on social behavior and must be factored in. These studies also only consider heterosexual couples. This assumes that homosexual relationships are the same. Most of this data is also collected from college-age students. Adults of this age may be experimenting with their relationships and may not have an actual love style yet. There is also little experience with relationships for perspective and objectivity. A broader sample of all ages, professions, and sexual orientation would make for a better data set.
In determining relational and sexual satisfaction, all six styles must be present and that certain aspects of communication were also required. “Passion and friendship/companionship are not consecutive in a romantic relationship but rather are concurrent. Both play a part in relationship initiation and development as well as in relationship maintenance (Hendrick, 2000).”
In conclusion, there is no right or wrong way to love, but only a combination of extremes that lead most people somewhere in the middle with one or two more dominant styles. These are also not the only factors in what determines a healthy and satisfying relationship. It’s the whole package, which unfortunately cannot be accurately studied because of the unimaginable variables that would be involved.
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