Triangular theory of love

The triangular theory of love is a theory of love developed by psychologist Robert Sternberg. The theory characterizes love within the context of interpersonal relationships by three different components:

  1. Intimacy - Which encompasses feelings of closeness, connectedness, and bondedness.
  2. Passion - Which encompasses drives that lead to romance, physical attraction, and sexual consummation.
  3. Commitment - Which encompasses, in the short term, the decision to remain with another, and in the long term, the shared achievements and plans made with that other.

The "amount" of love one experiences depends on the absolute strength of these three components; the "type" of love one experiences depends on their strengths relative to each other. Different stages and types of love can be explained as different combinations of these three elements; for example, the relative emphasis of each component changes over time as an adult romantic relationship develops. A relationship based on a single element is less likely to survive than one based on two or more.

Forms of love

Combinations of intimacy, passion, and commitment
  Intimacy Passion Commitment
Nonlove      
Liking/friendship
x
   
Infatuated love  
x
 
Empty love    
x
Romantic love
x
x
 
Companionate love
x
 
x
Fatuous love  
x
x
Consummate love
x
x
x

The three components, pictorially labeled on the vertices of a triangle, interact with each other and with the actions they produce and with the actions that produce them so as to form seven different kinds of love experiences (nonlove is not represented). The size of the triangle functions to represent the "amount" of love - the bigger the triangle the greater the love. The shape of the triangle functions to represent the "type" of love, which may vary over the course of the relationship:

See also

References