“What does it mean to love someone? Does it always mean the same thing, and if not, in what ways do loves differ from each other? Why do certain loves seem to last, whereas others disappear almost as quickly as they are formed?” – Robert Sternberg
These are questions that most people ask themselves at some point in their lives. Robert Sternberg formed the triangular love theory with these questions in mind. The triangular theory of love is based on the three components of love. Sternberg declared these components as intimacy, passion, and commitment.
Intimacy is feelings of connection and closeness. If you are intimate with your partner, then you are comfortable with opening up with each other.
Passion is feelings of sexual attraction, euphoria, and physical attraction.
Commitment is the decision to maintain the relationship via loyalty and dedication to love someone.
Check out Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love Scale for a better understanding of what constitutes intimacy, passion, and commitment. This test will help you determine what type of love you have with your partner.
The triangular theory of love states that different combinations of intimacy, passion, and commitment create seven different types of love:
Liking (intimacy) – Applies to friendship
Infatuated Love (passion) – Usually referred to as love at first sight
Empty Love (commitment) – Includes arranged marriages and relationships that lost intimacy and passion
Romantic Love (passion + intimacy) – These relationships usually don't last long
Companionate Love (intimacy + commitment) – Can apply to family, good friends, and lovers
Fatuous Love (passion + commitment) – Common when passion is the reason for marrying
Consummate Love (intimacy + passion + commitment) – What we like to call true love
According to Sternberg's triangular love theory, no type of love is ever set in stone. Even if your love has morphed into empty love, there is always hope. Empty love can turn into any other type love and vice versa.
Therefore, if you currently are in a relationship that has consummate love, never forget to keep working to maintain that level of love. Otherwise, it may turn into companionate love, empty love, or worse. By knowing what type of love you currently have, you can even salvage a relationship that might have ended. A little bit of knowledge can truly be helpful.