Are Love Styles Related to Sexual Styles?
Frey, Kurt, Hojjat, Mahzad, The Journal of Sex Research
The primary purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between love styles and sexual styles. Love styles refer to how individuals define or approach love, such that their attitudes regarding love guide their behavior toward, and experience of, those they love (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986; Lee, 1973). Sexual styles refer to the distinctive ways individuals prefer to engage in sex, in large part determined by particular cognitive scripts that guide how they behave and what they think and feel during sexual encounters (Mosher, 1980). The relationships between love styles and sexual styles have received little empirical attention, primarily because there have been so few attempts to conceptualize differences in sexual styles, let alone good measures of such differences. Yet, researchers have emphasized the need to explore how the sexuality of a relationship is related to other dimensions of the relationship, such as love, power, and satisfaction. Hendrick and Hendrick (1987a) were among the first researchers to investigate the relationship between love and sexuality. They wrote: "... trying to separate love and sexuality is like trying to separate fraternal twins: they are certainly not identical, but, nevertheless, they are strongly bonded" (p. 282).
The link between love and sexuality has, arguably, been forged by natural selection over the course of human evolution (Buss, 1985; Mellen, 1981; Symons, 1979). Indeed, many evolutionary theorists argue that sexual intercourse is the sine qua non of human survival because it transmits genes from generation to generation. However, equally crucial to survival, they argue, is the love and pair bonding that establish family units that will nurture relatively helpless offspring. Thus, love is said to have evolved in humans as a mechanism to perpetuate the species (Mellen, 1981). Because sex and love are so inextricably linked to survival, it should not be surprising to find a relationship between one's approach to love and one's approach to sex.
Another purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationships between one's preferences for various sexual scripts and the total number of one's sexual partners. A final goal was to explore gender differences in preferences for particular sexual scripts. These two purposes also benefit from an evolutionary perspective, which argues that men and women adopt different sexual strategies and are attracted to different characteristics in a mate (Buss, 1989; Buss & Schmitt, 1993; Hinde, 1984). More specifically, women are more biologically "invested" in their offspring, because they produce only a single egg each month and because they must gestate, give birth to, nurse, and assume greater responsibility for their young. Thus, they are expected to engage in sex that emphasizes the loving commitment of an exclusive partner, someone who will remain loyal to them and provide long-term care for their offspring. In contrast, men produce abundant sperm and are not constrained by the biological burden of childbearing and child care. Thus, they are expected to be more interested in sex solely for pleasure, to have more sexual partners and be more promiscuous, and to avoid emotional commitments and pair-bonding. In other words, males disperse their sexual investments, whereas females concentrate theirs. Thus, evolutionary theory leads to the predictions that men and women prefer different sexual scripts and that an important difference among sexual scripts involves the number or latitude of partners each permits.
Although there are several ways of conceptualizing love (e.g., Sternberg, 1986), numerous studies have focused on the love styles identified by Lee (1973, 1977) and elaborated by Hendrick and Hendrick (1986, 1989): agape, described as all-giving, selfless love; ludus, game-playing, noncommittal love; storge, down-to-earth, friendship love; mania, dependent and possessive love; eros, passionate, lustful love; and pragma, logical, "shopping list" love. …