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The Triangular Theory of Love
by Gloria Liven

Psychologist Robert Sternberg developed the triangular theory of love, which states that relationships consist of three components: Passion, Intimacy, and Commitment.

Passion is like lust, a combination of attraction and sexual desire.
Intimacy is a closeness, sharing, and bonding between people, sharing your thoughts and feelings.
Commitment is the decision to remain with another person long-term, and commitment to keeping the relationship alive.

The combinations of these components results in what Sternberg describes as 8 types of loving:

Type of love Passion Intimacy Commitment
Nonlove - - -
Liking (Friendship) - Yes -
Infatuated Love Yes - -
Empty Love - - Yes
Romantic Love Yes Yes -
Companionate Love - Yes Yes
Fatuous Love Yes - Yes
Consummate Love Yes Yes Yes

Nonlove means you simply don't love-- or like-- the other person.

A friendship, or liking, consists of intimacy (sharing your feelings with the other person) but no sexual desire or commitment.

Infatuation is like "love at first sight"; there is sexual desire, but little else. This type of love appears quickly and vanishes quickly, too.

Empty love is a commitment to be with the other person, even if the other types of love have faded or were never there.

Romantic love is a combination of intimacy and passion, but all without any real commitment. You like the person and desire them, but don't want to commit.

Companionate love is a combination of commitment and intimacy; this may still exist after passion fades. Or it may exist in nonsexual relationships, such as friendships or among family members.

Fatuous love lacks intimacy, having only passion and commitment.

The final type of love-- often seen as the "ideal" type of love, is consummate love. You are intimate with the person, passionate with them, and also strongly commit to them. Perhaps this is what is meant by "true love".


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