February 11, 2013
As Valentine’s Day approaches, love is in the air –
but not all love is created equal, says Mount Saint Mary College
psychology professor Rae Fallon (right).
As part of her class on the psychology of stress, Fallon teaches
students about six different kinds of love.
Each type has its own traits, from supportive to destructive,
and relationships are not limited to just one kind of love: they
can have characteristics of two or more types, said Fallon.
The first is Eros, named after the Greek god of sexual,
passionate love (Roman counterpart: Cupid). Fallon describes Eros
as “all enveloping,” which could include feelings of love at first
“It’s not really long-lasting for the most part. But it is kind
of fun,” said Fallon.
Storgic love centers around friendship. Storgic lovers are
friends first, and love develops gradually out of friendship.
Sometimes, storgic lovers remain friends long after the
relationship has ended.
Manic love is “almost always destructive,” explained Fallon. In
manic love, an individual wants to possess his or her partner, “and
not give that person their own personhood.” To achieve this goal,
manic lovers sometimes isolate their partners from friends and
family. Manic lovers can suffer from low self-esteem and thus put a
great amount of importance on their relationship.
Fallon added that manic love can – and often does – lead to
mental and physical abuse.
Ludic (sharing the Latin root of the word ludicrous) lovers are
playful, flirtatious, and generally more interested in quantity
than quality of relationships. Fallon refers to Ludic lovers as
A player “tells you just want you want to hear,” said Fallon.
“If you’re very beautiful, they tell you how smart you are. If
you’re very smart, they tell you how beautiful you are.”
But there’s one set of mates ludic lovers prefer not to start
games with, says Fallon: other players.
Pragmatic lovers are, as the name implies, highly practical when
selecting a mate. In this kind of love, an individual thinks
rationally and realistically about expectations of a partner, and
makes a decision based on similar life goals. This kind of lover
wants to work with his or her partner to achieve a common good.
“That’s where, very often, long-lasting love happens,” Fallon
The final kind of love is Agape, the selfless love.
“It’s the Christian love: ‘I love you at least as much as I love
myself,’” said Fallon. “It’s very rare in our world, but beautiful
when it happens.”
With so many complicated aspects of forming and maintaining a
relationship, why love at all?
Fallon says that love is “part of who we are. It’s a basic
drive, it’s a basic need for us. Love – to feel that we are part of
something besides ourselves; that’s something we need to feel.”
She pointed out that well-known psychologist Sigmund Freud
theorized our two basic needs are love and work.
Psychology is a popular field among Mount Saint Mary College
students. The study of psychology educates about oneself and
others, and helps establish careers in many areas, including
counseling, social work, education, health professions and police
As part of their coursework, Mount psychology students are able
to assess situations utilizing a state-of-the-art psychology lab,
and engage in projects, such as the college’s Center on Aging and
Policy, and the Center for Adolescent Research and Development.
The centers provide psychology majors, as well as students of
other disciplines, with many opportunities to expand their
knowledge and interact with professionals in the field.