Love means many different things to different people. Our definitions of love are not all the same, and this can be a source of confusion and conflict in a relationship.
John Money, a world-famous sexologist, developed the concept of “love maps.” A love map is a mental blueprint, of sorts, that we carry internally. It is our idea of the ideal love partner.
Draw your own “love map” on a blank sheet of paper. Create a diagram of how you envision your ideal love relationship.
Then turn your paper over.
Take a few minutes to jot down key attributes that you consider central or necessary for a committed love relationship to thrive (such as, trust, respect, sex, humor, etc.). Because love is a unique experience, your list will likely differ from others’ lists.
After you have your list complete, rank the order of importance of your chosen attributes, with 1 being the most important and 10 being the least important. For example, which is more important to you, humor or sex?
Then consider the twelve central features of love developed by a marriage and family researcher, Beverley Fehr. Fehr (1988) paid particular attention to how individuals assess or appraise the essential aspects of love, or what she termed love prototypes. The top twelve central features of love according to Fehr’s research, by order of importance are:
- Desire to promote the well-being of the other
- Accepting the other without wanting to change the other
- A desire to be in the other’s company
- Consideration of / and interest in the other
Does your love prototype list include any attributes or characteristics of love that Fehr’s list does not? If so, why do you think that is? How does your list compare to Fehr’s findings?
It is interesting to do this activity with your partner to see how your “love maps” are similar or different. Extreme differences are typically those areas where your relationship experiences the most distress and conflict.
Check out this interesting video about love maps!