During the 1970s, Canadian sociologist John Alan Lee explored a number of different love styles that men and women practice in their romantic relationships (Lee, 1973, 1976). This theory and method have become significant contributions to the individual typology of love styles (Karandashev, 2022).
In the 1980s and 1990s, his theory of six different love styles became widely known among researchers who study love. Numerous researchers adopted this typology and examined many individual variables associated with these different love styles. Scientists also attempted to make cross-cultural comparisons of these different love styles (Karandashev, 2019).
Not many, however, were aware that John Lee theoretically justified the cultural ideologies of these different love styles. In the conclusion of his work, he suggested that cross-cultural replication of his method in a comparative perspective could yield interesting findings. Here is the summary of how Lee enlightened the cultural ideologies of different love styles.
Cultural Ideologies of Different Love Styles
Lee suggested that the preferred cultural patterns of behavior associated with different love styles may evolve over time as socially sanctioned systems of ideas. Such cultural ideologies could develop due to the influence of specific social institutions and philosophies. In certain historical periods, the social conditions and cultural ideologies of people’s lives can cause a specific love ideology (Lee, 1975).
Here are some examples.
The Roman Cultural Ideology of Love
The cultural ideology in the historical period of ancient Roman civilization was open and permissible to a variety of sexualities and love. The Roman culture was conducive to the art of love and seduction rather than to genuine love feelings. The cultural ideology of the time encouraged love more as a playful adventure and a game. The principles underlying entertainment, play, and games determined people’s experiences of love and expressions. (Meister, 1963; Ovid, 1939). This is why the Ludus love style was popular in the cultural climate of that time.
The Christian Cultural Ideology of Love
The Christian ideology that prevailed during the early centuries of the Christian era opposed the Ludus love ideology (cf. Nygren, 1952). Different from this, Christian religious teachings emphasized the importance of the Agape love philosophy. The Agape love cultural ideology served as the foundation for Christian conceptions of religious beliefs, practices, and marriages. According to this ideology, love should adhere to the ideals of selflessness, generosity, and concern for others.
The Feudal Cultural Ideology of Love
The feudal societies were highly structured and had a high-power distance between people of different social classes. People believed that the cultural ideology of hierarchical societies fits into the reality principle of life. Many traditional collectivistic societies have been organized this way.
This feudal cultural ideology developed into a pragmatic love ideology. The Pragma love style was well suited to that social organization. And the institution of arranged marriage became very common in these societies.
The Cultural Ideology of Courtly Love
Since the 12th century, a cultural ideology of courtly love has evolved in several European societies. The adventurous pleasure principle of this love style opposed the Christian ideology of the Agape love style as duty love. It also opposed the Feudal ideology of the Pragma style of love and arranged marriage.
The social conditions of life among medieval knights and aristocracy in the south of France, Spain, Italy, and Germany were well suited to the new adventurous style of love relationships. In the centuries that followed, it developed further into what we now know as romantic love or Mania love style.
Thus, we can see that the cultural and intellectual atmosphere of certain epochs has been more favorable to one of them than to another. Throughout history, various cultures have promoted certain ideologies of love as the ideal model.
The Individual Variation of Love Styles in a Culture
In any historical or modern culture, men and women vary in their typological differences and in the personal experience of relationships they have. Therefore, each of these different love styles has existed in all historical eras. And each of these different love styles is present in a wide variety of modern cultures.
The way a person loves and the things that come with it may depend on their personality, the personality of their partner, and their relationships. The person can act in ways that are typical of different love styles in different situations and contexts of their life. She or he can change their love style in the different stages of their relationship. For example, Mania and Eros love styles tend to be more common among young men and women, while Storge love styles tend to show up later in a relationship (Karandashev, 2019).
Prospective Use of Lee’s Method in Other Cultures
The same research methodology that Lee developed could be applied to other cultures (1975). However, as far as I’m aware, no other cultural studies of this kind have been conducted.
For many years, cross-cultural studies on love styles in other cultural samples have focused on cultural differences in love attitudes (see Karandashev, 2019 for a review). In the context of Lee’s theory and method, the concept of love styles differs from the concept of love attitudes (1973, 1976, 1977).
The love attitude is only one component of the love style, yet it is an important one. Different love styles are multifaceted and complex emotional experiences, expressions, actions, and relationships.