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Triangular Theory of Love

Triangular Theory of Love

Love has been defined as a complex human emotion, which can be experienced by anyone at some point in their life. Many psychologists have studied this concept for a long time and invented many theories about love. One of the theories is Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love.

Who is Robert J. Sternberg?

Robert J. Sternberg is a renowned psychologist who has put effort into studying different aspects of human psychology. He has studied and developed thoughts about intelligence, wisdom, thinking patterns, leadership, hatred, and love. He developed a duplex theory of love, that is composed of two separate theories- the triangular theory of love and the theory of love as a story.

Triangular Theory of Love

The triangular theory of love explains that love can be understood by understanding three components that are together seen as forming the vertices of the triangle. The triangle in the theory has been used as a metaphor instead of a geometrical figure. The three components of the triangular theory of love are intimacy, passion, and decision or commitment. Each of these components expresses a different connotation of love. 

1. Intimacy

 Intimacy is defined as the feelings of closeness, connection, and bondedness in a love relationship. It generates warmth in a relationship. And partners high in intimacy in their relationship like value, and understand each other more. If a relationship is intimate, then the relationship will be more than that of a friendship. The intimacy component remains stable over time in a love relationship. 

2. Passion

When you are in love with someone, there is a fire evolving or a hive of strong emotions within you. Passion refers to the push that leads to romance, physical attraction, sexual attachment, and related aspects in a love relationship. It includes sources of motivation and arousal that lead to passion in a relationship. Due to passion, one cannot stop himself from thinking about the partner and developing unexplainable feelings for her. Aspects related to passion are unstable in a love relationship and change more often.

3. Decision or Commitment

The decision is in short term refers to the decision that one loves the other person, whereas commitment is in long term refers to the commitment to maintain that love. These two cognitive components do not necessarily go together in a love relationship because one can decide to love someone without giving any commitment or one can commit to someone without acknowledging that he loves the other person. This component of love remains stable over time, but people’s awareness about it keeps on fluctuating with time. Both decision and commitment in a love relationship can be controlled by the people involved. 

The Last Word

According to Robert J. Sternberg (1986), the three components of love (intimacy, passion, and decision/commitment) are fundamental in defining love and all three interact in different ways to create different types of love between individuals. Also, the relationship can become unstable if there is great involvement in one component rather than the others, or if any component is missing from the relationship. 

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About The Author

Priyanka Ohri

Ms. Priyanka Ohri is a Human Developmentalist. She is pursuing a master's in Human development from SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai and sustains a graduation degree in home science with a specialization in Human development from Lady Irwin College, Delhi University. She is an empathetic listener and an articulate writer. Her work has been published online on-site Icy Tales and Icy Canada. She has also contributed to two e-magazines (aces magazine and damnfit magazine) by writing articles on topics, ‘why forgiving is gratifying’ and ‘how do we interact with each other’. She believes in imparting her knowledge on Human development subjects.

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