Research in relationships: patterns of love from a psychological point of view

Disturbance in understanding marriage and family

In the last three decades in particular, there has been a significant disruption in understanding of marriage and the family due to the declining normative commitment to the classical nuclear family (mother, father, child(s)). In the post-war decades, the image of the “ordinary family” was considered a binding archetype of the family. However, a realistic skepticism came to this picture. Indicators of this are the high divorce rates and the low birth rate.

The realization of the partnership has changed due to cultural change: lifelong marriages, which are concluded in adulthood, have often been replaced by “patchwork biographies” characterized by complexity, temporary commitments, and late marriages. This cultural change is related to the partial loss of the cultural model of the ordinary family in the 1950s and 1960s.

This shows that understanding partnership and family is incomplete without a cultural perspective. In addition, cultural and biological factors interact with each other. Natural selection limits the scope of cultural differences.
Culture and genetics are two key perspectives that can explain a variety of partnership phenomena. In detail, however, it must be clarified whether culture, genes, or both are critical determinants.

This can be illustrated by the different love patterns, which are referred to as love patterns. Love styles can be understood as attitudes towards a partner determined by personal ideas and cultural specifications. In contrast, they are determined to a small extent only by genetic factors, as studies of twins show.

Love Patterns Classification

The classification of love styles is based on the conceptual differentiation of the different forms of love. Six forms of love are distinguished, which are relatively stable over several years in a given partnership.

Romantic love includes the following typical characteristics: partners feel physical attraction, experience love at first sight, are psychologically aroused and quickly develop a willingness to engage with each other, sympathize with each other, and gain emotional gain for themselves in each situation. . Example statement: “My partner and I experience the same sexual wavelength.”

Fun love is based on the idea of ​​sexual freedom. The goal is to fulfill sexual desires here and now. Deception, manipulation and hiding are part of it. The direction of the bond is avoidance, so discomfort arises when there is a lot of intimacy and closeness. Starting additional relationships in addition to relationships with a permanent partner is made easier thanks to the world of the Internet. Example statement: “Sometimes I need to prevent two of my partners from detecting each other.”

Friendly love arises from long acquaintance or friendship. Shared interests and activities are at the heart of a relationship. Sexual attraction develops over time. Emotional serenity, tolerant and respectful, is dominant. Sample Statement: “The best kind of love comes from camaraderie.”

Unlike friendly love, possessive love is very emotional. A loved one looks unique, irreplaceable and radiates perfection. A tendency to jealousy is a particularly characteristic feature, which is associated with the anxious and ambivalent attachment that underlies this form of love. Jealousy is associated with the fear of being abandoned. Example statement: “If my partner doesn’t pay attention to me, I feel very ill.”

In the case of realistic love, the utility orientation prevails. Accordingly, the emotional level is low and the conscious weight of the advantages and disadvantages is high. So one can speak of an analytical/rational approach. The ideal partner looks solid and talented. Sample Statement: “Before entering into a romantic relationship, I think about what this relationship will bring me.”

Altruistic love is characterized by the fact that the well-being of the loved one is in the foreground. The individual’s perspective is determined by the partner’s needs, which are answered with a willingness to make sacrifices. Sometimes a gap between attitude and behavior can arise when the sacrifice is more of a rhetoric than an action-oriented attitude. Sample statement: “I will take anything for my partner.”

Different styles of love side by side

A person does not necessarily choose one love style over others. Alternatively, she can express several styles of love at the same time. There is a positive relationship between romantic love and altruism. Those who tend to be romantic also tend to show altruistic love.

Moreover, love styles differ greatly in terms of acceptance by lovers:

  • Romantic love finds the highest acceptance.
  • An average agreement of cordial love, possessiveness, and altruism was indicated.
  • Low agreement was associated with playful and practical love.

Another important discovery concerns the similarity between lovers in the patterns of love. This is consistently high in romantic love, altruistic love, and pragmatic love, which are accordingly characterized by reciprocity. In contrast, in love fun, friendliness and possession, it is inconsistent across the different samples.

“Love and sedition can coexist.” Hans Werner Bierhoff

Longitudinally (more than four and a half years) romantic, terrifying, and regal love has been shown to decrease in strength over time, while friendly love increases in importance. In this regard, both losses in love and opposing gains can be found over time, which may be suitable to compensate for the losses.

Love and quarrel can coexist. In this way, prospects for independent experience are addressed. Romantic and playful love can coexist as well, although strong romantic infatuation tends to be less playful love. But negative attachment is relatively weak, so in many cases a person may be passionately in love but cannot resist the temptation of infidelity.

Finally, it is useful to make a division of love patterns into attachment-dependent and attachment-independent. A distinction is made between attachment avoidance and attachment fear, which are the primary dimensions of attachment.

  • Friendly, pragmatic, and altruistic love showed a weak attachment relationship
  • In contrast, romantic love (passive with attachment avoidance), playful love (positive with attachment avoidance), and possessive love (positive with attachment anxiety) have all been shown to be attachment-dependent.

How is love related to personality? Recent research shows that narcissism plays a major role in answering this question. Narcissism is defined as excessive self-love accompanied by a strong sense of entitlement.

Other traits include a sense of superiority and a willingness to take command. Narcissism fits into a lavish lifestyle, which can be summed up under the heading “More appearances than reality”. Empirical evidence indicates that levels of narcissism have increased in Western societies since the 1990s.

Moreover, the narcissistic lifestyle is fueled by the emergence of social media, where the user’s self-expression plays an important role. Narcissism increases the desire to make social comparisons with others, which in turn leads to increased use of social media. Narcissism can be divided into two dimensions:

  • Great narcissists are characterized by the following traits: authoritarianism with self-image, tendency to brag about themselves, striving for admiration from others, and high self-esteem. They reach higher levels of love and fun.
  • Vulnerable narcissists: They report fantasies about their awesomeness, but vacillate between feelings of superiority and inferiority and have low self-esteem. They reach higher levels of playful love, realism, possessiveness, romance and altruism.

Of particular note, weak narcissism is positively correlated with both relationship-enhancing and relationship-disrupting love styles. Because romantic love is positively correlated with satisfaction with the partnership, while the association with playful love is negative.

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