Love Styles & Interpersonal Communication

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  • 0:01 The Colors of Love
  • 0:58 Primary Love Styles
  • 3:21 Secondary Love Style
  • 5:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Our communication is often defined by our relationships. In this lesson, explore how the different styles of love can impact communication, and test your understanding with a brief quiz.

The Colors of Love

Think back to your earliest days of art class in elementary school. You learned two basic principles of art: how to make images using macaroni noodles and the difference between primary and secondary colors. You know, our eyes perceive the three primary colors of red, blue, and yellow, and those mix to become the secondary colors of purple, green, and orange.

Well, in the 1970s, Canadian psychologist John Alan Lee realized that love is a lot like color. In his book, The Colors of Love, he described the primary and secondary love styles. Each is different, depending on expectations and goals for the relationship, and your love style greatly influences how you communicate. So, love is like color. But is it also like macaroni art? Now, there's a book I'd like to read!

Primary Love Styles

Let's start with the three primary love styles, the most basic ones. First is eros. This type of love is erotic, passionate, and based on physical attraction or chemistry. Basically, this is the love at first sight, head-over-heels puppy love of Hollywood films. This sort of love style focuses on beauty, enjoyment, and romance, but can also be unrealistic, setting impossible standards or fading once the honeymoon phase is over. People with this love style may rely on communication styles that express passion or romance, but may not handle conflict well, since conflict is not part of the fantasy.

The second primary love style is ludos, from the Latin word for sport. This style of love is the conquest, viewing a relationship as a game to be won. People who have many romantic partners for short periods are experiencing ludos. Let's just be honest; these are the players. They're not interested in serious relationships or commitments; they just want to have a good time. Ludos love comes with communication that is informal and often superficial. If establishing a physical relationship is a game, then communication is just a tool to get there, a means to an end, not a meaningful development of trust.

The third of the primary love styles is storge, which actually comes from the Greek word for friendship. This love style is affectionate, growing slowly over an extended time, and is based on shared interests. Storge love is not as passionate as eros love, but these relationships tend to be longer lasting, since they rely on intimacy and trust rather than pleasure or chemistry. Unlike the other two love styles, where sex is an immediate priority, people experiencing storge love are generally friends for a long time before becoming romantically involved, so the relationship is not built on sexual attraction or compatibility. However, communication in storge love is generally open, honest, and intimate.

Secondary Love Styles

Okay, so eros, ludos, and storge are the three primary love styles. But, just like you can mix red and blue to get purple, you can also mix primary love styles to get secondary ones. The first of these is mania, a mixture of eros and ludos. This is the obsessive love and the typical roller-coaster relationship. It has really high highs and really low lows, is driven by passion, and is often characterized by jealousy or possessiveness. Communication is often abrasive, direct, and driven by emotions, not logic.

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