Updated: NOVEMBER 12, 2019

A lovemap is a template in the brain or an internal blueprint for preferred erotic situations. Sexologist John Money coined the term in the late 1970s when discussing how people develop their individual sexual preferences.

In 1980, when writing his article “Pairbonding and Limerence,” Money defined a lovemap as "a developmental representation or template in the mind and in the brain depicting the idealized lover and the idealized program of sexual and erotic activity projected in imagery or actually engaged in with that lover."

In recent years the definition of lovemap has been expanded to include romantic preferences, as well as sexual ones.

More About Lovemap

People establish their lovemaps early in life. While they are not present at birth, Money believes they start developing shortly after this time and are fully formed by the end of puberty. However, a person may not discover certain parts of their lovemaps until they discover certain triggers, such as pornography.

A person’s lovemap may be altered during its development due to exposure to triggers. For example, after a child is spanked he or she may develop a preference for erotic spanking or whipping. Once a lovemap is formed, it’s unlikely to change.

Individuals tend to connect with others on a sexual and romantic level, called pair-bonding, when their lovemaps complement one another.

There are a variety of different lovemaps. Heterosexual and homosexual lovemaps exist, depending on whether an individual is attracted to the opposite or same gender. Vandalized lovemaps develop when trauma occurs during the lovemap’s formation. This might happen in cases of child molestation or incest. Paraphilic lovemaps are lovemaps detailing sexual preferences outside social norms. These lovemaps sometimes come from the trauma that spawns vandalized lovemaps.

We can decode our lovemaps and grow to understand ourselves and our motivations better by asking ourselves questions about our biological makeup, cultural upbringing, socialization, and psychological factors. When you understand your lovemap you can learn about the healthy qualities you are attracted to, as well as the destructive ones that should not be pursued.


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