A style of loving is a manner in which one portrays himself based upon a set of beliefs developed over time. Their actions correspond with their style of loving and many times, without conscious understanding. John Lee (1974) proposed a theory that described six different styles of loving that characterize intimate relationships. My take on these styles of loving are: Romantic, Game-Playing, Possessive, Compassionate, Altruistic, and Pragmatic. The following article explains each style and how people with those styles tend to act.
1) People with a Romantic Love Style (Eros) tend to place their emphasis on physical beauty as they search for the ideal mate. Romantic, erotic lovers delight in the visual beauty and tactile and sensual pleasures provided by their lover’s body, and they tend to be very affectionate and openly communicative with their partners.
2) People with Game-Playing Love Style (Ludus) like to play the field and acquire many sexual “conquests” with little or no commitment. Love is for fun, the act of seduction is to be enjoyed and relationships are to remain casual.
3) People with a Possessive Love Style (Mania) are inclined to seek obsessive love relationships that are often characterized by turmoil and jealousy. These people live on a rollercoaster style of love in which each display of affection from the lover brings ecstasy and the mildest form of rejection produces painful agitation.
4) People with a Companionate Love Style (Storge) (STOR-gay) are slow to develop affection and commitment but tend to experience relationships that endure. This style is love without fervor or turmoil, a peaceful and quiet kind of relating that usually begins as friendship and develops over time into affection and love.
5) People with an Altruistic Love Style (Agape) are characterized by selflessness and a caring compassionate desire to give to another without expectation or reciprocity. Such love is patient and never demanding or jealous.
6) People with a Pragmatic Love Style (Pragma) are inclined to select lovers based on rational, practical criteria (such as shared interests) that are likely to lead to mutual satisfaction. These individuals approach love in a business like fashion, trying to get the best “romantic deal” by seeking partners with social, educational, religious and interest patterns that are compatible with their own.
So what happens then when two people who are in a relationship have very different styles of loving? According to Lee, he suggests that relationships fail to thrive over time because “too many people are speaking different languages when they speak of love” (Lee 1974, pg. 44). Even though two people in a relationship say that they want the same thing, their hard work is often thrown to the wolves when they try to merge incompatible love styles. In contrast, satisfaction and successful loving relationships depend on the ability to find a partner who “shares the same approach to loving and the same definition of love” (Lee 1974 pg. 44). This isn’t to say that opposites don’t attract, as contrived as that sounds, and that over time, two people can shift their style of love to adopt parts of the other. However, this effort requires a large commitment to each other to endure the test of time that creates a positive result.
My recommendation: Don’t jump to conclusions regarding the one you are with or meet. It takes time for styles of love to become readily apparent since other factors can interfere. For example, a woman who has a Game-Playing style of love through college may find her style altered when she meets someone who has an Altruistic love style and feels enough empowerment over time that playing the field no longer seems desirable. Couple that with a desire for steady work and family, and thereafter, Altruism may seem that much more appreciated. Again, this is only an example. My point is that love is a constantly changing and developing feeling that is affected by our constant interactions with one another and the influences of the outside world. Given this, you never know when that one lifelong love will show up – and it may very well be the one you are with, you just have to pay attention, see the signs, and be willing to accept whether or not they are right for you.