- Eros – Classic romantic, idealized love
- Ludus – Multiple love interests where they are in complete control. Lying, cheating and deception are common for people who experience love as Ludus
- Storge – Love based on Storge takes time, it requires genuine liking and understanding of a partner, friendship leading to romance.
- Agape – The overwhelming desire to want to take care of a partner—a parental or nurturing type of love.
- Mania – Crazy, impulsive and needy. They fall in love quickly, but their love tends to consume them leading to burning out before it can mature.
- Pragma – Based on common sense, reason and careful consideration. Practical concerns underlie this type of love.
These are the 6 classic love styles as understood by current psychology. When first exposed to these I thought that’s awesome! I’ve never looked at it this way before, they really help to make sense of things that usually remain mysteries. For example as someone who often matches the Storge description, deep feelings mostly arise for me out solid liking and trust and not until there is solid liking and trust. Being approached by a partner in full Eros mode would thrill me with their interest and passion. That same passion could overwhelm me with speed, leading to an impression of hesitation from that, in turn, made them feel less certain. The ability to recognize the style of love approaching makes it at least possible to better anticipate how things unfold and better job of reacting.
When people encounter this taxonomy of loving, they often relate to it as a “personality type” tool where they are to pick themselves out of the list. I bet you can guess what they pick: Most people according to themselves, are Eros types. In second place comes Agape with nobody in a close 3rd. The idealized romantic Eros style is clearly what you’d want to be out of this list. It sounds like true love expressed in the healthy, normal, successful way…that movies show. Agape is the popular second choice because so many people feel like they are the more generous, giving one in the relationship and possibly the unfairly unappreciated one. Obviously, most people are wrong about these choices and just trying to feel good about themselves. Ludus, storge, mania, and pragma are the “Not so fantastic four” in this lineup. Storge is the most acceptable of this group because it’s kind of relatable and it doesn’t seem wrong on the face of it, just not very romantic. Pragma next because it’s that, or Mania and Ludus. Pragma feels like the opposite of romantic love, all business, dry and transactional. To choose Pragma as your “type” seems like admitting it just didn’t go well for you, and here’s how you settled. In a popularity showdown between Mania and Ludus, Mania wins because people would rather be messed up than evil.
But it isn’t a personality type list. Looking at it that way oversimplifies it and taking it at that face value, it sounds dumb and arbitrary. Among better-informed people, it’s seen as a way to understand your main or dominant expression of love style and one or two others that balance or synthesize with it. This is a more accurate portrait of anyone and therefore more useful. Imposing one of these styles on a person is obviously wrong. Using a mix of them is more right, but also wrong. Nobody IS one of these. None of these adjectives is a noun.
I do believe in a “more often than not” connection between a person and a style because personalities can be clear cut, with a dominant “theme”. But the six styles aren’t eternal truths, somebody made them up and not that long ago, as a tool for recognizing and naming something when you see it. Without some categories of behavior to choose from you cannot pinpoint and explain a behavior seen in the wild without starting from scratch every time in your own words. The styles have a role to play as a quick understandable reference.
I think the way these work most beautifully is as styles of behavior that shift and flow through us in a constant lifelong flow. They can overlay phases of our lives or describe our reaction to an influence. Nobody is Eros toward everything, a very specific person brought that our in them. perhaps the situation around them made love possible or impossible.
I see all these states as a result of combining the self we generally are with the unique chemistry of someone we grow close to. Added to the effect of the situation we find ourselves in.
It’s a Third Mind way of looking. As an example, in this light we can understand someone expressing Agape love, meeting a person who brings out Eros in them placed in a very stressful or deeply conflicted situation and responding with a Ludus reaction. Their lover, if broken-hearted by this Ludus behavior might have a Mania response, feeling desperate, and out of control.
It’s a great way to describe what people bring out in each other and how it plays out in time. The love styles are much better at describing what you are going through, than who you are. Knowing this, you could see yourself going in a bad direction, becoming secretive and controlling for example, and use that information to correct your course before it controls YOU and becomes embedded in your life. We tend to feel that we have no choice in these things but an awareness of a trend can mitigate it.
Nobody should be shoved into the LUDUS box forever without really earning it. Most of the Ludus behavior I have observed has been evoked from a weak spot in someone added to a bad situation. The person expressing Ludus is in hell for the duration (along with the people in his life of course). He witnesses himself paralyzed as if unable to behave differently, systematically mistreating those he loves. Metaphorically unbuilding his life brick by brick. He was not unkind, unloving or dishonest by nature but the situation and his weakness brought these out in him. And until it collapsed completely he was unkind, unloving and dishonest toward those he claimed to love. When a Ludus nightmare is completely destroyed, nothing left but shreds, that person may feel freed at last from a compulsive trap. Ludus behavior can feel like a panicky, impulsive sleepwalk, almost like a branch off of Mania. It isn’t that they are innocent, they just aren’t having any fun and the insane need to control other people is desperate and full of vertiginous terrors of being exposed at any second. There’s a gambling high in here somewhere, with an obsessive drive to reach the bitter end. Which is the end they will reach.
Admittedly, there are people who express Ludus as their default with the classic spider-hearted indifference to their victims but I think this correlates very highly to narcissistic or sociopathic disorders.