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Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love

One of my faviorate and most used theory in my practice!


Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love is a psychological theory proposed by Robert J. Sternberg in 1986. This theory attempts to explain the different components that make up love and how they combine to create various types of love relationships. The three components of Sternberg's theory are intimacy, passion, and commitment, and they are represented as the vertices of a triangle, hence the name "Triangular Theory of Love."



Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love
Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love

  1. Intimacy: Intimacy refers to the emotional connection and closeness between two individuals. It includes feelings of warmth, trust, and affection. Intimacy is essential for creating a deep emotional bond in a relationship.

  2. Passion: Passion refers to the intense physical and emotional attraction and desire for another person. It encompasses the romantic and sexual aspects of a relationship. Passionate love often involves strong feelings of excitement and arousal.

  3. Commitment: Commitment represents the decision to maintain a long-term relationship with someone. It involves the intention to stay together, work through challenges, and make sacrifices for the relationship's sake. Commitment is seen as a crucial element for enduring love.

Sternberg's theory proposes that different combinations of these three components lead to seven different types of love:

  1. Liking: Liking is characterized by intimacy alone. It is often seen in close friendships where there is a strong emotional bond but no romantic or sexual attraction.

  2. Infatuation: Infatuation involves passion without intimacy or commitment. It's often described as a "crush" or a fleeting attraction.

  3. Empty Love: Empty love is characterized by commitment alone. It may be a situation where a couple is committed to each other for practical reasons, such as staying together for the sake of children or cultural expectations, but lacks intimacy and passion.

  4. Romantic Love: Romantic love combines intimacy and passion but lacks commitment. This is typically what people refer to when they talk about being "in love" during the early stages of a romantic relationship.

  5. Companionate Love: Companionate love involves intimacy and commitment but lacks passion. It's often found in long-term, stable relationships where the initial passion has diminished but the emotional connection and commitment remain strong.

  6. Fatuous Love: Fatuous love combines passion and commitment but lacks intimacy. This might be seen in situations where people quickly commit to a romantic relationship without really getting to know each other on a deep emotional level.

  7. Consummate Love: Consummate love represents the ideal form of love that includes all three components: intimacy, passion, and commitment. It's often considered the perfect or complete form of love, but it can be challenging to sustain over time.

Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love has been influential in the field of psychology and has been used to study and analyze various types of relationships. It provides a framework for understanding the complexities of love and how different elements contribute to the overall experience of love in romantic relationships, friendships, and other interpersonal connections.



Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love

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