Can you recognize yourself in one of these ways of building (or not) a relationship?
The Canadian psychologist John Alan Lee formulated in 1973 the so-called Colour Wheel Theory of Love, which categorizes love in six main models – three primary and three secondary – to ‘draw the contours of a relationship‘.
Lee decided to pick up some Greek and Latin words to address them: the three primary are Eros, Ludus and Storge; the secondary ones are called Mania, Agape and Pragma.
We have simplified it a bit to give you some ideas for reflection.
ἔρως for ‘erotic and passionate’, it is the love of the youngest ones.
Symptoms: As you can easily deduce, an Eros lover needs a physical and/or spontaneous, instinctive spark to fall in love, she/he is in search of chemistry and yearns for the magic of love (hopeless romantic). She/he wears some kind of pink glasses to filter reality and is not willing to take them off, not even after years.
How not to do that?
Maintaining sexual health is the key for a lasting relationship: ‘Eros’ lovers are in fact looking forward to engage in an exclusive passionate relationship which rarely turns out to be possessive and oppressive. The feeling of belonging is not the fulcrum of this type of love that relies on the ‘irrational’ and romantic idealized (and for them, idealistic) concept of love.
Risks: Boredom and routine are an unavoidable component of a relationship after some years..how to save the love at stake?
Example: Romeo & Juliet, a classic. Well, they actually die before their love gets consumed by the routine 😀
The Latin word ludus means ‘game’ and defines for Lee a kind of playful love based mainly on the search of attention as well as fun.
Symptoms: The goal is to enjoy the playful side of a relationship without engaging in it. Infidelity is almost a must, as each of the ‘friends’ can give something different and unique. Love is a competition where sex could stray into nymphomania.
Risks: Can we play forever? At some point our skin collapses, we get fat and wrinkles, we lose charm as the age increases. Grandchildren are probably the only ones willing to play with a Big-Child. Is marriage really a trap?
Example: ..or maybe you can be Hugh Hefner, founder of the well-know erotic magazine Playboy. He’s the absolute Ever Play-ing boy.
The Greek word στοργή means familial love.
Symptoms: It refers to the slow development from friendship to sentimental affection or it may also refer to familial feelings in the narrow sense, i.e. blood ties. Commitment is the keyword to describe the images which spark off emotions. No sexual desire can arise without a more or less formal engagement between the partners, as love is a matter of respect and tender affection. The family-kinship sense of belonging is the pillar of the relationship.
Risks: If we really need to find a possible flaw, we could say that it might lack adventure, passion, but many variables are to take into account, such as the need of the exciting factor (we may not share the same idea of ‘excitement’). It may get a bit possessive, as the kinship/family is a matter of uttermost importance. A clash of priorities in a critical situation is likely to occur.
Example: For the HP fans: the relationship between Hermione and Ron is a good example. In real life: the Mafia style.
From the late Latin mania: mental derangement characterized by excitement and delusion.
Symptoms: It may also be called obsession as it depicts the sick attachment to someone that leads to excessive jealousy. The relationship is a cause of unrelievable stress as the expectation of a total fusion (two bodies, one soul) is unattainable. Therefore, the Manic lover develops an obsessive dependence (eventually co-dependence) and incessantly prompts the partner to show and express love. It may reveal a deep lack of self-confidence that leads to a constant need of reassurances and confirmation.
Risks: A lot, since the realization of this love is basically unachievable unless you eat your partner.
Example: Lolita, the disturbing (love?) story where two men chase a young girl and destroy her life.
The Greek word agape points out to an altruistic, not reciprocal way of loving, where the active agent who loves does not expect anything from the partner.
Symptoms: As it’s the purest form of love free from any expectation, the lover will be willing to endure difficulties. The likeliness of cheating is basically zero as fidelity is a key element along with the willingness to sacrifice for the partner. Due to this, the agapic lover rarely shows jealousy or has an obsessive fondness for possession.
Risks: In the worst scenario, the non-agapic partner could take advantage of such great generosity. Generally, the issue with this kind of love is the unbalance of responsibilities towards the couple which may induce to guilty feelings and/or be neglected by the non-agapic partner.
Example: As Thom Yorke (Radiohead) sings, “True love waits”. And as G.G. Marquez wrote, one can wait for the love of her/his life for 50 years, 9 months, and 4 days (Love at the time of cholera).
The word suggests the meaning: a pragmatic love based on the demographic characteristics of the loved one and which constitutes the most common type of relationship nowadays.
Symptoms: You look for someone to share your goals with, a kindred soul is preferred over other features for the sake of compatibility. You know what you are looking for, what kind of person you’d like to have by your side & as you have a healthy pragmatic attitude, you expect your partner to reciprocate your feelings.
Risks: Well, actually what’s the risk? That the partner changes her/his goals, but as it’s a very pragmatic approach, it might also be solved with practical compromises & adjustments. It may maybe lack passion, or may stray into sentimental utilitarism, i.e. an arranged marriage.
Example: Pride & Prejudice is one of this kind.
So..which one is yours?
Most relationships are a patchwork of these six frames (and in fact Lee had extended the theory with nine tertiary types of love which are a combination of the six mentioned above); furthermore, the leitmotiv of your love may change with you and we could therefore consider these six ways as six possible steps you go through in your love life: when you’re young, you look for a passionate lover, but as your needs change over time, you’ll give up this idea and start looking for a similar soul in your late twenties. Have you ever watched Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy? If you did, you know what we mean with ‘six steps’. If you don’t, you may want to watch this three-story delicate portrayal of the clever yet still very human development of a relationship.
It is very likely for you to recognise the red thread of your current love story in one of them. Which one? Why? Now that you are aware of it, would you like to change it or you still stick to it?
Let us know 🙂