Styles of Love, Lee's Color Wheel Theory

Social psychologist Alan Lee suggested that there are different styles of love or amatory archetypes. These styles define the most prominent features of each type of love. There are three basic archetypes: eros, ludus, and storge. From these three, emerged three secondary archetypes.
Styles of Love, Lee's Color Wheel Theory

Last update: 08 June, 2021

Everyone knows that love is a complex phenomenon. Indeed, it manifests itself in many different forms and intensities. John Alan Lee, a social psychology researcher, proposed a classification of the different styles of love. He wrote a book called The Colors of Love: An Exploration of the Ways of Loving. In this book, he introduced the idea of amatory archetypes.

His goal in defining styles of love or amatory archetypes was to establish some common traits in the different ways of loving. He aimed to classify the different kinds of love into groups. In fact, he wanted to make this feeling less mysterious and more understandable.

“One is in love when one realizes that the other person is unique.”

 -Juan Luis Borges-

Lee defined three basic styles of love. He called them archetypes. Firstly, he established a main category. In this category, he included eros, ludos, and storge. From this group, he formed a subgroup of secondary archetypes. He identified each archetype with a different color.

A happy couple.

Styles of love

1. Eros

Lee said that Eros was the most essential and primary form of love. He identified it with the color red. This is the most sensory style of love. It’s characterized by the search for beauty and sexual activity. Its main feature is the passion involved in emotion.

Erotic lovers often choose their partners by intuition or the chemistry between them. As a matter of fact, they don’t think too much about their choices, they just get carried away. While they value their partner a great deal, they don’t get obsessive about them. This style of love is usually exhibited by extremely self-confident people.

2. Ludus, love as a game

Lee identified ludus with the color blue. It corresponds to people who seek not to become fully involved in romantic relationships. Nor are they particularly interested in looking to the future of the relationship or seeking stability as a couple.

However, ludic lovers aren’t necessarily dishonest or frivolous. In fact, they tend to clearly state the rules of the game they’re playing. They like to have open relationships and don’t want to feel constrained within the limits of one relationship. Nevertheless, they’re sincere people and good company.

3. Storge, love as companionship

Lee identified storge with the color yellow. It corresponds to people looking for, above all, companionship in a partner. They like to talk. In fact, they often fall in love due to similar interests and intellectual compatibility. They don’t fall in love quickly.

Storgic lovers are prudent and they seek long-term commitment. They look for shared interests and friendship and affection. Physical appearance and sexual desire often take a backseat.

A happy couple.

The styles of love: secondary amatory archetypes

As we mentioned above, Lee classified three subgroups from the three primary archetypes. He called these secondary archetypes. There are also three of them. They’re called mania, agape, and pragma. Their characteristics are the following:

  • Mania. Lee identified it by the color purple. It corresponds to irrational lovers. Manic lovers become obsessed with their partners. In fact, they’ll tend to force themselves onto their partner even if the partner’s not overkeen or fully committed to the relationship. Manic lovers are extremely afraid of being lonely and abandoned. For this reason, they’re prone to extreme jealousy.
  • Agape. Lee identified this by the color orange. It corresponds to altruistic love. Agapic lovers love selflessly and unconditionally. Furthermore, they feel happier giving than receiving. In fact, agapic lovers will give up their own interests for the benefit of being loved.
  • Pragma. Lee identified this by the color green. It’s a practical kind of love. Indeed, pragmatic lovers have their feet firmly planted on the ground. They choose their partners based on the common ground between them. In addition, they know how to accept their partners as they are. Consequently, they don’t idealize their relationships but they build them up.

We should finally mention that John Alan Lee claimed that people could move from one archetype to another over time. However, one of the styles will always tend to dominate in each individual, because it forms part of their temperament.

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