Monday, August 2, 2010

The Nine Types of Lovers - Part One

Psychotherapist Daphne Rose Kingma’s book “The Nine Types of Lovers – Why we love the people we do and how they drive us Crazy” identifies 9 different love personalities. Although Ms. Kingma wrote the book to assist real people in understanding themselves and the people they fall in love with, it also provides useful information for romance writers. We are always trying to understand our characters and why they act the way they do. We also need to throw them into conflict situations. Studying these nine types of lovers will give insight into the way our heroes and heroines (and the people around them) behave.

Here are the first Four Types of Lovers:

1. The Attention Seeker:

- Emotional Wound: Lack of Love
- Coping Behavior: narcissism
- Unconscious Emotion that needs to be addressed: Insecurity

Telltale signs:

- Brilliant, highly focused and very creative
- Others are drawn to her energy and undertakings.
- Concerned with how others see her.
- Difficulty listening, empathizing, or supporting others when they have problems.
- Trouble handling criticism.
- Deep down she never feels loved
- Can’t get enough praise or support
- Are often musicians, artists and leaders.

Though Attention Seekers may do exciting things, they can also sap the energy of their lovers with endless need for affirmation and attention. They tend to sabotage relationships with their self focus, and lack listening and empathy skills. Attention Seekers may have had parents who overemphasized the value of achievement, causing them to wonder if they have any worth beyond their accomplishments. In real life, Attention Seekers are often matched with People Pleasers, because they’re nice to everyone, and Perfectionists, because they inspire. In a romance novel, if an Attention Seeker is matched with a Workaholic, who has trouble being available for others, conflict will ensue.

2. The Emoter (aka The Drama Queen):

- Emotional Wound: Emotional Chaos
- Coping Behavior: Hysteria
- Unconscious Emotion that need to be addressed: Fear

Telltale Signs:

- Feels and expresses emotions intensely
- Cries and/or screams a lot
- Creates relationship dramas; everything is a catastrophe.
- Likes the experience of heightened feelings; they thrive on loss of control.
- Expresses the feelings for everyone in the relationship.

Although Emoters can be exciting and volatile, their constant dramas are exhausting. They can make relationships choppy and difficult, and sometimes they scare us. Emoters became this way because they grew up in an environment that contained some form of hysteria as a constant, and fear was a correct and appropriate response. They’ve lived in a state of fear for so long that they really don’t know how not to. Under all that emotion is a profound longing for safety and peace.

As a romance writer, I likely would not assign my heroine or hero the personality of an Emoter; they simply would not be likeable enough for the reader to identify with. But I think an Emoter could make a good secondary character such as a sibling, best friend, parent, or ex-spouse. Their hysterical reactions could provide conflict for the main characters. However, the reader could come to sympathize and understand them, if their background was explained.

3. The Cool Cucumber

- Emotional Wound: Deep emotional pain
- Coping Behavior: Denial/Suppression
- Unconscious emotion that needs to be addressed: Sorrow

Telltale Signs:

- Calm and collected, especially in a crisis
- People are drawn to his steadiness.
- Argues when people suggest he should be feeling something.
- Always bases decisions on facts or logic.
- Wants to be in control.
- Is convinced that what happened in childhood is irrelevant to his life now.
- Others say he is detached, remote, withdrawn or just too practical.

The Cool Cucumber is steady, reliable, responsible. We can always count on him. But his detached, remote or withdrawn behavior drives us crazy. We can never get too close to him. He not only denies his own feelings, but yours as well.

Because of a profound loss, such as the death of a parent, or denial of access to a parent, the Cool Cucumber doesn’t know how to gain access to his emotions. Their grief and sorrow was never acknowledged. If they grew up in a household which was emotionally out of control, they may have decided to submerge their emotions and never to feel.

In a romance novel, the Cool Cucumber is often the Wounded Warrior type, someone who is cool under fire and prefers to go it alone. On their own, a Cool Cucumber will seek out other Cools, or perhaps a Workaholic or a Skeptic who won’t challenge him to respond emotionally. But wouldn’t it be fun to pair a Cool Cucumber with a character that demands an emotional reaction, and challenges him to change. The Cool Cucumber needs to be treated with the compassion appropriate to the deep wounds they have experienced.

4. The Skeptic

- Emotional Would: Betrayal
- Coping Behavior: Doubt/cynicism
- Unconscious Emotion that needs to be addressed: Lack of trust

Telltale Signs:

- Is clever and witty and often makes fun of herself.
- Is often self-deprecating, with a cynical worldview.
- Doesn’t really believe that love exists.
- Has a difficult time being around people who are expressing their emotions.
- Is ambivalent about relationships and often sabotages the relationships she has.
- She retreats into her own world when someone tries to get closer.

We like skeptics because they are fun. We don’t believe their cynicism is serious because they express it in such a captivating way. But their constant negativity is wearing. They are available, but not really; they’re great at disappearing, both emotionally and physically.
Skeptics have experienced a profound betrayal in love, such as the death of a parent, a breach of trust, abandonment, parents’ divorce, or withdrawal of basic care by parents. If these betrayals occur when the child is young and are compounded by lies, silence or coverup, they create deep wounds.

In a romance novel, a Skeptic can be a charmer, a love ‘em and leave ‘em kind of person. But when he meets the heroine, he is forced to deal with the betrayal issues of his past. If he can overcome his fear of love, he will be amazed and overjoyed to discover what love has to offer.

Next week I’ll talk about the other 5 types of lovers. Do any of your characters fall into these four types of lovers? Have you read a story containing any of these characters?

And please check out Long and Short Reviews Third Anniversary Scavenger Hunt! I'm a participating author again this year. Three lucky winners will receive Nook e-readers from Barnes & Noble as their prize. For more information go to http://www.longandshortreviews.com/promo.htm.

7 comments:

Janet said...

Great post, Jana - can't wait for Part 2! I have a love of self-help books, am drawn to that section of the library - and love to figure out where I fit in the 'definitions'. So that's what I did this morning - I'll have to come back and reread to try and place my characters.

A great way to look at our heroine and hero differently. And I never thought to use those self-help books as resources for my writing. Thanks for that - looking forward to the next 5 lovers!

Nicole Murray said...

This post is such a good idea. So often a mismatched set of charcters can kill a love story (or any genre). I think a copy of the DSM IV and a few self help books should be in any writers reference selection.

Character behavior/interaction has always come fairly easy to me. Working in the MH field wasn't a surprise choice and the experience has left me with some great material. As for my MC, The Cool Cumber all the way. His heroine is still a WIP, but she will be his challenger.

Cool info. Look forward to the next installment.

Hayley E. Lavik said...

This is fabulous information, Jana. Excellent fodder for characters in general, regardless whether love is their focus. I'm really curious about the others.

I can see so much potential with each of these, since they provide reactions and behaviours, ticks, flaws, and plenty of backstory to unearth. At the moment they seem better for characters than actual people though, in that I can look at them all in extremes and go "Yes, that would be fabulous in a story." So far I'm reading them all as pretty flawed forms of love to try to allocate types to actual people I know, but I think that's because I'm looking at extremes, and if none of my friends or family suffered massive betrayals, I think it's too neutral to count :)

Jana Richards said...

Hi Janet,
What I liked about these nine love personalities was the potential for conflict between characters. Putting two characters together who are opposite on this scale guarantees fireworks.

I think they could also help to start a story if you're having trouble coming up with a plot.

Cheers,
Jana

Jana Richards said...

Hi Nicole,
You're so right about mismatched characters. There are probably some types that should never go together. How many times have you read a book and thought "What does she see in him?" or "Why did he fall in love with this girl?" So hopefully personality love types such as these can give the writer a heads-up as to what will work and what won't.

Thanks for stopping by.
Jana

Jana Richards said...

Hi Hayley,
Yes, these nine personality types are pretty messed up! I like that all the flaws are laid out so we can see what these people are like and how they got this way. When I was thinking about these types I imagined pairing one of the nine types with a "normal" person or at least a person with perhaps not as many issues. Too many issues for one couple would be overwhelming.

Stay tuned for the next installment.
Jana

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Jana, thanks for posting this unique list. I'm saving it for future reference.

Anita Mae.