Fatuo love: what it is and how it affects us according to Sternberg

It’s not just poets and playwrights who talk about love. Many researchers in the field of psychology have tried to give an explanation for this feeling. Over the past century, different theories have emerged that attempt to explain love rationally.

Love is a universal emotion, but it is one of the most complex, it would seem that two people do not love in the same way, and these differences are usually the cause of conflict between people. Aunque also love causes internal psychic problems.

In 1986, American psychologist Robert Stenberg proposed the triangular theory of love. According to Stenberg’s triangular theory, the three characteristic elements of love are: passion, intimacy and commitment, and the different types of relationships arise from the different combinations that occur between them. In this article we are going to talk about crazy lovea type of relationship that is born of passion and commitment, but where there is no intimacy.

    What is crazy love?

    Crazy love is a form of love that Stenberg describes as immature. In this type of love, commitment and passion occur, but intimacy does not. Normally, it’s a whirlwind affair in which passion drives commitment, but the stabilizing influence of intimacy doesn’t exist, so the relationship doesn’t last. They tend to be very impulsive couples.

    Attention in the relationship is centered on the physical attractiveness of the person you love, which weighs more than other personality characteristics. Having no deep foundation, a person may feel in love in this way with different people and at different times. According to Stenberg, fatuo love is a feeling similar to falling in love, which comes across as something chemical and irrational and does not respond to the passage of time and the intimacy that arises during the relationship.

    Crazy love, also known as crazy love, is the type of impulsive romance we see in great romantic tragedies. It is passion that dominates and it cannot be controlled. In this type of love, the other is treated as a perfect being – almost divine – but this appreciation is not real. The other is no longer an object of our love, than a person who exists with all of its complexities and flaws. There is no commitment to last more than a fleeting moment, since infatuation is what sustains the relationship.

    Crazy love has no depth or real substance, since it is a frivolous whim of a couple or a romance, there is no notion of commitment, necessary to maintain everything type of relationship, whether in love or not. True love stories have a stability and closeness that is built over time and will and is not seen in relationships dominated by illusions.

    The person involved in this type of relationship dominated by illusions seems to have never known the real world – or refuses to do so. Different psychological problems can exist, so that a person is always involved in relationships that are not real, such as Peter Pan syndrome or other conditions characterized by emotional immaturity. Although also the fear of abandonment or some other kind of consequences derived from past experiences pueden hacer that we opt for the lack of commitment in relationships.

    This type of love is common among adolescents because they have not grown enough to have mature judgment and idealization is reinforced by the decline in hormones produced by the loved one.

      The triangular theory of love

      As we have seen, the theory of psychologist Robert Sternberg describes the types of love according to three different scales: intimacy, passion and commitment. The interaction of these three elements gives rise to the different forms of romantic love.

      The three components form the triangle-shaped metaphor that serves to describe love and gives the theory number. Different components show different characteristics of love, and when all are present, true love can exist. Let’s see what these characteristics are:


      Privacy and intimacy are related to the feelings that generate warmth in a romantic relationship. Privacy is related to the space between people, and intimacy is related to the connection between people.


      Passion is what causes attraction, sexual desire and is responsible for the beginning of romantic relationships that we know in our culture and our time. The passion component of a romantic relationship encompasses all motivations and other forms of excitement that involve the experience of passionate romance.


      Deciding to love someone and committing to a relationship are both parts of the decision/commitment component, but they may not happen together. The decision component has to do with determining, in the short or present, that one loves another person. The commitment component has to do with a long-term decision to keep the love.

      As we see, these two decision/commitment aspects are different things and have no reason to be linked, one can decide to love someone (now) without committing to a long-term relationship, or you can get into a relationship without really deciding who loves your partner

        The other forms of love according to the triangular theory

        The importance of the components of love can change from relationship to relationship, and even over time within the same relationship. All three parties work together in a relationship: for example, greater commitment can generate more intimacy or passion, and more intimacy can generate more passion or commitment. Usually components are separate entities, but they influence each other. Different types of love can be generated by focusing on specific combinations of parts.

        On the other hand, there are seven combinations of the three elements of love: passion, intimacy and commitment, the presence of one component or the combination of two or more components create different love experiences. And although none of them are real cases in themselves, they serve to describe the type of relationships and their characteristics. In addition to stupid love, let’s see what forms of love exist:

        1. Friendship

        • Components: Taste

        In the type of love called amistad, intimacy is the main affective component. It means that there is no passion or physical attraction between peopleand there is usually no long-term commitment between the two members of the couple to stay together or have a life together, only love.

        2. Infatuation

        • Components: Passion

        Passion alone does not indicate the formalization of a relationship. In fact, many people fall in love at first sight, without knowing the other person very well. Infatuation applies when there is passion present, but there is no commitment or intimacy. It’s more of a conquest.

        3. Empty Love

        • Components: Commitment

        When two people commit to being together, but there is no passion between them, no good communication, and sometimes not even intimacy, it is called empty love. Only commitment is presentand sometimes the couple only want to be together to meet social norms or not be alone.

        4. Romantic love

        • Components: Intimacy and passion

        Romantic love is the tragic love we see in movies, when two people have an intimate relationship, there is passion between them, but there is no commitment to be together long termeither because of the circumstances or because one of the two members of the couple does not wish to continue the relationship.

        5. Love of company or sociability

        • Components: Taste and Intimacy

        Some couples have a pleasant and satisfying relationship because they have been together for a long time, even if they no longer have sexual passion or desire. for the other. They are engaged, they are intimate, they can even have children, in this case: their love, their history together, this is what maintains the relationship. It’s called sociable love this happens in many marriages.

        6. Consummate love

        • Components: Intimacy, passion and commitment

        Only a few people are able to maintain passion, commitment and intimacy in their relationship. Consummated love it is the love that is born when these three elements are maintained in timedespite the possible challenges that arose during the relationship.


        According to the triangular theory of love, there are three essential components: intimacy, passion and commitment which constitute the different forms of romantic relationships. All three components are needed to form a healthy couple, but the amount of each component a relationship needs can change from person to person or within a relationship.

        Knowing how the three parts work can help identify areas of the couple’s relationship that need improvement or also uncover internal issues. For example, if you find that most of your relationships are fat-love and based only on the initial spark, there may be an underlying emotional issue that requires your attention.

        Bibliographic references

        • Sternberg, RJ, & Grajek, S. (1984). The nature of love. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
        • Sternberg, RJ, & Barnes, M. (1985). Real and Ideal Others in Romantic Relationships: Is Four in a Crowd? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
        • Sternberg, RJ (1986). A triangular theory of love. Psychological examination

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