Lee’s Love Typology: Love Styles

Another psychometrically-produced typology of love is John Lee’s “colors of love.” LikeSternberg, Lee found three primary styles of love, or “primary colors,” which Lee called eros, ludus, and storge. He found that these styles combined to form three secondary styles or colors, for six love styles total:

Erotic love: Immediate, powerful, exclusive, preoccupying, sexual

Ludic love: Love as entertainment, for pleasure rather than for bonding, commitment-phobic

Storgic love: Stable, not intense, based on bond and shared interests

Pragmatic love: A combination of storgic and ludic love, which Lee called “shopping for a suitable mate.”

Manic love: A combination of erotic and ludic love, obsessive, jealous, self-defeating

Agapic love: A combination of erotic and storgic love, unconditional devotion, difficult to maintain

Here’s a visual of the typology I stole from dating-relationships.co.uk:

(First published June 1, 2011 on Nathen’s Miraculous Escape.)

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Husbands, Stop Rehearsing Distress-Maintaining Attributions

One of the ways that John Gottman says people talk themselves out of their marriages is “rehearsing distress-maintaining attributions” in between arguments. That is, instead of making up stories about how their troubles are passing and circumstantial, they make up stories about how their troubles have to do with permanent flaws in their partner’s character. Over time, this version of the story solidifies and they reinterpret the entire history of the relationship using that filter.

This is another of Gottman’s gendered findings; it is mostly a problem because the men (in heterosexual marriages, at least) do it. It’s a problem when women do it, too, they just don’t tend to as much.

The alternative to rehearsing distress-maintaining attributions is rehearsing relationship-enhancing attributions, and this is exactly what Gottman found that the people in marriages that ended up happy and stable did. It’s probably a good idea, then, to practice rehearsing relationship-enhancing attributions if you can. Try thinking about the strengths of your relationship, good times, things you are proud of, ways that current conflict is passing and circumstantial. If that is difficult to do, think instead about couples counseling.  If you want to keep your relationship, you probably need help.

[First published on Nathen’s Miraculous Escape, March 2, 2011.]

Two Models for Relationship Development

Last term I read Metaframeworks, a book about Bruenlin, Schwartz, and Kune-Karrer’s integration of family therapy models. It’s a fun read, but don’t run out and buy it unless you are like me, very nerdy about family therapy and a sucker for good theoretical integrations.

Metaframeworks presents two models for how relationships can grow over time. The first is a model from the 80s, by a family theorist named Wynne. In it, people in relationships develop four capacities, in this sequence:

1) Attachment/cargiving: We have “affectional bonding” with each other.

2) Communicating: We have “communicational codes” in common.

3) Joint problem solving: We have the ability to work successfully together on complex tasks.

4) Mutuality: We have the ability to renegotiate the relationship.

Metaframeworks criticizes Wynne’s model as “epigenetic,” meaning that each stage is related to the next in the way that our genes are related to our bodies: Each stage is the source and foundation of the next. If their analysis of Wynne is correct, then Wynne thought that you can’t really communicate in a relationship until you have achieved “affectional bonding.”

The authors’ scheme is similar but more complex. It has six processes that happen in relationships, and the relationships between them are “recursive,” meaning the product of each process affects the other processes. They are ambiguous about the sense in which their processes are a developmental scheme. My best guess is that they mean that each of these processes can develop in relationships, and the better developed they are, the better off we are. They say a few things that hint at a stage model, that each stage flows from the previous, and that inadequate development of an earlier process constrains later ones. But they don’t use words like “earlier” or “later” and they are very clear that the processes are related in a web-like fashion. Very postmodern. Anyway, here are the processes:

1) Attraction: We feel drawn together.

2) Liking: We appreciate and value each other.

3) Nurturing: We create safety by exchanging care.

4) Coordinating meaning: We can agree on what it means when we do and say things.

5) Setting rules: The rules by which we operate are functional.

6) Metarules: We have ways of changing our rules when we need to.

It is interesting that both Wynne and Metaframeworks consider and then reject intimacy (where “each person comes to believe in and experience the relationship as completely safe”) as a highest stage or most complex process. Wynne, apparently, does so because it is “difficult to achieve.” Metaframeworks does so because that trust can be lost, and because some couples with functional relationships never get there.

I’m not convinced. I really value intimacy in my own relationships, and I think that if we stop short of intimacy, at “stable and successful,” in our close relationships, we are missing out. And why reject a developmental stage because it is difficult to achieve?

[First published on Nathen’s Miraculous Escape, January 17, 2011.]