A Guide to the 4 Love Styles

What, there are only four love styles? C’mon. You’ve had more than four already.

I know. But bear with me, as this theory has backing from psychology.

The four love styles emerge from the four observable evaluative/judging criteria all humans use, and which silently influence how we each ask and respond to the question, ‘do you love me?’.

This post describes the four unique love styles. Identifying yours and that of the person you’re in love with should help you to understand one another better, and improve the potential for fun and deep intimacy in your relationship.

Why love needs theory

The reason that love benefits from psychological theory is because as currencies go, it rivals Bitcoin in abstractiveness. If you’ve loved people then I am sure you have already figured that out.

Love is also not something we can just practice blindly and get better at. We can learn through experience, but then encountering someone with a completely different internal check list for how they experience love, and we are almost back to square 1.

Having theory for love is like having buoys in an expansive and mystical ocean Click To Tweet

It’s true that love can’t totally understood through our intellects, but it’s a useful starting place. This blog has already looked at Attachment theory which helps explain how we tend to bond with our partners based on our early nurture experience.

Otherwise, there is Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages, a simple idea that basically works. In Chapman’s model, we have preferred ways (two of the five) of expressing and receiving love, and when we can figure out ours and our partner’s, we enjoy greater success in building satisfying relationships.

The 5 Love Languages:

Words of affirmation
Physical touch
Acts of service
Quality time
Giving gifts

What Chapman’s languages did not even try to speak to was how the essential wiring of the person colors their approach to love. But without an understanding of our own and our lover’s fundamental wiring, we leave ourselves vulnerable to misunderstandings and conflict. We just won’t have the capacity to empathize when our lovers are wildly emoting, or they appear quiet and distant (just examples).

Where the love styles come from

The love styles emerge from the four judging functions within the eight cognitive functions that have been observed in humans.

In plain English, this just refers to the four known ways we make decisions – what we in effect give a priority to when deciding.

Unless you have done some personal growth work, your decision-making priority happens unconsciously. I realized what mine was through using Myers Briggs, but there are other ways you can identify your priority (through simple self-awareness, for instance).

Anyway the categories are called ‘extraverted feeling’, ‘introverted feeling’, ‘extraverted thinking’, and ‘introverted thinking’, but I prefer Personality Hacker’s nicknames: harmony, authenticity, effectiveness and accuracy. Here’s a very brief description of the function.

The Jungian decision-making functions:

Harmony: makes decisions based on how things are impacting people on an emotional level.

Authenticity: makes decisions based on how things are impacting them subjectively on an emotional level.

Effectiveness: focuses on impersonal criteria such as metrics, analysis and data points for making decisions.

Accuracy: also uses impersonal criteria, but judged subjectively by them.

Each process has a teeny element of the polar opposite process included in their wiring, albeit on a much smaller scale. Think of it as being a whisper, versus a shout.

So harmony decision-makers have a shadow of accuracy, authenticity decision-makers have some effectiveness, effectiveness has some authenticity, and accuracy a little harmony.

Whatever your criteria, you overvalue it in your life. Plus you’ll tend to just assume others are using the same criteria to make evaluations and decisions.

Why love and our judging criteria are linked

So how is our decision-making priority related to love?

Love is inherently transactional. You have to give and receive it in order for it to be there, and our giving and receiving is guided by that judging function.

We are going to look at how this plays out in depth below. As a brief example, when an authenticity person is looking to love, they are deciding who resonates with them in a core value kind of way. For an accuracy person however, it’ll have to make logical sense that their mate would be into them.

Being transactional, love and our decision-making priority go hand in hand Click To Tweet

It is important to realise that the styles describe approaches – they do not capture or go to the subjective experience of love, which I think is a lot more universal to us all.

Those same two evaluation styles I mentioned could fall in love with the same person. But their evaluation criteria are going to kick in alongside that, and be instrumental in how they relate to the person from the very outset.

The 4 love styles

Let’s now meet the four Lotharios. The following are the nicknames I have given to the lovers based on their chief decision-making function.

The four love styles:

The Earth Mother or Father lover – ‘I’ll prioritise you and meet your needs’.

The Realness lover – ‘I’ll give you space and never change you.’

The Big Picture lover – ‘I’ll learn you like a system, and continually choose you unless otherwise stated’.

The Precision lover – ‘I’ll be honest and I’ll study the nuance of you.’

Below is a description of the style, their romantic superpower, what they are looking for from you, how they show you they love you and how they can be misinterpreted.

To help clearly delineate the styles, I include a bit of hypothetical information about areas of contrast or friction between two love styles.

The Earth Mother/Father lover

Romantic superpower: They’re really caring and supportive, and will probably accurately anticipate your needs.

The Earth Mother or Father has been so named because of their nurturing tendencies. If you’re in their orbit, they want to know how you’re feeling and will frequently check in.

(As this is my love style, this section includes more subjective information than the other three.)

The Earth Mother or Father tends to be more aware of other people’s emotions, which puts them in a vulnerable space. Emotional displays are going to have a harsher impact on them then, say, the Realness lover. This means that subconsciously, the EM or F tends to look for those they can trust not to exploit that openness. It is a matter of safety for them.

They’ll usually gravitate towards very emotionally stable partners, and maybe even unemotional partners, depending on how healthy they are at using in their priority decision-making function in life. (How effective you are in using your major decision-making criteria in life is definitely a factor in all this, but not I’m going to dive into in this post).

Earth Mothers and Fathers are also probably the most sensitive of all the lovers to you withholding acceptance or approval from them. This is directly opposite to how one of the other styles, the Precision lover, thinks about feedback.

They'll want you to be okay, and will generally do something tangible about it if you're not Click To Tweet

For EM or EF, feeling deeply connected with their partners is their kryptonite. (Like love, connection is an abstract concept, but let’s take the definition of feeling deeply in tune with one another and each person being responsive to the other.)

More developed people of this love style should give their lovers a clue as to how to make them feel connected, especially if they are partnered with one of the thinking styles: the Big Picture lover and the Precision lover.

What I just described is taking a proactive approach to getting your love style’s needs met, and it could apply to all of the love styles.

What they’re looking for from you

Here are a few of the unconscious questions being asked by EM when they’re with someone:

  • ‘Will you acknowledge and take care of my needs?’
  • ‘Am I safe with you?’
  • ‘Do you accept and approve of me?’

What you’ll see from them

Here are a few radio signals the EM will emit:

  • ‘I’ll prioritize you and anticipate your needs’.
  • ‘I will check in regularly and make sure you’re okay’.
  • ‘I will keep the mood up’.

How they can be misinterpreted

The Earth Mother or Father can seem smothering or intrusive.

The Realness lover

Romantic superpower: They will accept you as you are, and hold space for every single emotional expression you have.

This lover prioritizes authentic feeling expression, which means you get to be completely yourself around them. Unlike Earth Mother or Father, they deliberately avoid morale boosting, prioritizing what’s true for them instead. Generally, they have a higher threshold for emotional behaviour.

They'll never ask you to be something you're not Click To Tweet

The special thing about this love style is their recognition that people have an entire array of emotional, subjective experience. This means that motive becomes highly important to them, and questioning theirs can shake them up. And even if they struggle to explain why something is important to them, it is important that you as their lover trust them.

This love style will be the most offended by attempts to mould them. And so if you think this is your lover, I’d avoid doing that.

What they’re looking for from you

Here are the questions laced into the Realness lover’s interactions with you:

  • ‘Do you trust my intent?’
  • ‘Can I know that you have my back?’
  • ‘Will you give me the space to be me?’

What you’ll see from them

  • ‘I’m going to be patient with your own expression’.
  • ‘I’ll give you space and not treat you like a project nor attempt to change you.’
  • ‘I trust you have my best interests at heart.’

How they can be misinterpreted

They might be misinterpreted as passive and self-absorbed, when really they just think they are giving you space.

The Big Picture lover

Romantic superpower: They’ll really take the time to understand how you operate.

The Big Picture lover tends to vet love through the criteria of effectiveness. As they look to love, they are ultimately asking ‘what works?’.

It is a functional way of looking at love, which is not to say it isn’t romantic. (I have sampled this love style over an extended time period, and can tell you that’s not the case!). Big Picture lovers will learn you like a system, collecting information about how you operate so that they can ultimately take care of you.

They're romantic through their attention to who you are as a person. Click To Tweet

This is a love style is well geared towards relationships due to its focus on sustainability. Big picture lovers tend not to suffer bad relationships for very long at all, because of the focus on what’s working.

What they’re looking for from you

  • ‘Will you handle things or do I have to worry?’
  • ‘Will you make my life easier and support my goals?’
  • ‘Can you be self-sufficient?’

What you’ll see from them

  • ‘I’ll be loyal on principle (more big picture loyalty).’
  • ‘I will educate myself on you and learn how you operate.’
  • ‘If I change my mind I’ll let you know. Otherwise, you can assume I still love you and I’ll find it weird if you keep needing reassuring.’

How they can be misinterpreted

Because everything is institutionalized and in the calendar, it can seem unromantic. But their romanticism happens through their extreme attention to who you are as a person.

The Big Picture lover may also be misinterpreted as controlling or distant, because it isn’t a type that gives a priority to feelings.

The Precision lover

Romantic superpower: They’re very nonjudgmental and will support your growth and development.

The Precision lover is all about what makes congruent sense. They are looking for partners they pair well with based on a subjective inward judgment on that. And so they’ll ask ‘why are you with me?’ but not from insecurity, because they genuinely want to know.

They are more offended than other lovers by questions concerning their competency, and it’s important for them to be trusted by their lovers. This lover wants praise and the more that they love someone, the more they want their approval.

Also the more they love you, the more carefully they’ll craft their language to you. They tend to say what they mean, and mean what they say more than the other lovers. Their honesty really is a thing of beauty.

For the Precision lover, your pairing with them has to make sense Click To Tweet

They’ll be egalitarian, meaning they will not necessarily stop you from screwing up your life or making terrible decisions. The way they think means they are probably the least judgmental of all the lovers.

What they are looking for from you

  • ‘Do you think I’ve got this?’
  • ‘Are you impressed by my performance?’
  • ‘Will you give me feedback in some way?’

What you’ll see from them

  • ‘I will be rigorously honest with you’.
  • ‘I’ll learn you in a precision way.’
  • ‘I won’t protect you from yourself.’

How they can be misinterpreted

It can sometimes feel like they are withdrawing their approval from you when they are only giving you tough love.

How the love styles affect the love languages

If you already use the love languages, then knowing the love styles will empower that. The two are related. If we are being loved ‘in our language’, but that does not line up with our decision-making priority, the love act won’t replenish the tank.

Let’s say, as Earth Mother lover, I favor ‘quality time’ and so does my Big Picture lover partner. Although we share love languages, our different decision-making criteria mean we are going to internally record that quality time in a certain way.

Even if we share love languages, our different love styles means we will register deposits in the love language differently Click To Tweet

For Big Picture, quality time might look like their lover tagging along with them on errands, or helping them with their to-do list. Earth Mother will also like that, but for them, the intimate moments during quality time make a bigger impact. Even physical touch can play out differently depending on the judgment criteria.

This can get a bit nuanced, but it gets easier to understand and apply once you have a good feel for the person’s overall style. It’s also good to remember that as a language, love definitely has elements of universalizability too.


I hope that you enjoyed this tour of the four lovers.

I know that for me, the deeper I have delved into personality and decision-making functions, the more clearly I perceive how instrumental they are to how we love. The better we are able to get inside of our lover’s minds, the more we can love them up in a way that resonates.

Additionally, this theory helps us to recognise tokens of appreciation from our lovers, opening up incoming revenue streams. Actually that might be the greatest thing of all about learning the love styles.

I drew extensively on the expertise of Personality Hacker on the eight Jungian cognitive functions in creating this post. If you found it useful, you should check out their work and especially podcast Episode 0106 – How Types Say ‘I Love You’