Sternberg’s triangular love theory

The triangular theory of love seeks to explain the complex phenomenon of love and love interpersonal relationships. It was proposed by psychologist Robert Sternberg, and describes the different elements that make up love, as well as the possible combinations of these elements when forming different types of relationships.

It is considered a useful theory because it helps us to understand this feeling so complex which, in addition to being very important in our lives, is the basis of many of our interpersonal relationships.

    Psychology and love

    Love and falling in love is a very interesting subject because it is one of the most intense feelings that one can have. Love affects us in all ways and when we meet that special someone it changes our life completely. In fact, it dramatically changes the way we perceive reality and it causes us to make decisions in a different way than usual, to orient our relationships with others in a different way and to rearrange our priorities on what matters in life.

    When we fall in love, the intense emotions and passion around us affects ours in our mind and body.

    Therefore, psychologists, sociologists and doctors have tried to understand and explain it from different points of view (biological, cultural, etc.). Over the past decades, research in this area has been varied, seeking to understand falling in love, in love, attracting or without love.

    • If you want to know some conclusions of these studies, we invite you to read our article: “Love and falling in love: 7 amazing surveys”

    Sternberg’s theory of love

    One of the best-known love theories is Sternberg’s Triangular Theory. Robert Sternberg, is an American psychologist, professor at Yale University, widely recognized for his research. Not only was he interested in love, but intelligence or creativity were also objects of interest in his research in the area of ​​cognitive psychology and emotions. In particular, his contributions in the field of the study of intelligence are well known.

    however, this character is known for his theory of love and interpersonal relationships and many experts in this field supported his ideas.

    Understand his theory

    For Sternberg, love is made up of 3 qualities that manifest in any love story: intimacy, passion and commitment. These elements, in practice, mix with each other, but knowing how to distinguish them in a theoretical framework helps us to understand the phenomenon of love and to better recognize its nuances and details. Below is a brief explanation about them.

    • privacy: Intimacy refers to the feeling of closeness, the bond between the two people who are part of the love story, the trust between them, friendship and affection.
    • passion: This component is the excitement or energy of the relationship. Feelings of physical attraction and the urge or need to be with the other person and have intimate relationships.
    • commitment: Refers to the decision to stay in the relationship despite the ups and downs that may arise. It includes aspects such as the moments lived, the history of the relationship, etc.

    These three elements represent the corners of the pyramid of Sternberg’s theory, with intimacy at the highest point and commitment and passion at the sides. Depending on the combinations that occur between these components, romantic relationships will be different. For example, in a new relationship, passion predominates over intimacy and commitment.

      Possible combinations or types of love

      Depending on the possible combinations, Sternberg says there are different ways to love. These ways of loving can be understood in isolation or in stages:

      1. Affects

      Affection refers to true friendship. There is only intimacy, but no passion or commitment. The members of the relationship feel close and trust each other, but there is no desire to have intimate relationships or a commitment as a couple.

      2. capriciousness

      In this way of loving there is a lot of passion, however, there is neither intimacy nor commitment., Which makes these relationships superficial. It would be a kind of romance but ending soon or the beginning of a relationship, in which there is a lot of desire to have an intimate relationship but there is not enough trust or commitment.

      3. Empty love

      Empty love is characterized by high commitment, without passion or intimacy. This is common in self-interested or long-term relationships, when there is no trust or intimate relationship, but a commitment to being together.

      4. Romantic love

      Romantic love is a way of loving in which the members of the relationship feel attraction and excitement., And, in addition, they have confidence and closeness. Romantic love has inspired thousands of novels and films, it is the love that Romeo and Juliet feel. If this step is continued with great experiences together, it could end up provoking a commitment.

      5. Sociable love

      This usually happens in long lasting relationships. There is intimacy and commitment, but no passion. This is the kind of love that can manifest when the couple have no desire and excitement towards the other person, but coexistence, children, and experiences keep them together. This relationship can seem satisfying to members and last a long time.

      6. Crazy with love

      In fatal love, passion and commitment predominate, but there is no intimacy. Fatal love can arise because couple members want to be together, as there is the desire and excitement to have intimate experiences, however, they don’t have much in common.

      7. Consummated love

      It is complete love. It consists of the three elements of Sternberg’s pyramid theory. Consumed love is the main amateur archetype, it is ideal love and it is also called mature love..

      • Want to know more about mature love? Check out our article: “Mature Love: Why Is Second Love Better Than First Love?”

      It is necessary to work the three elements to achieve consummate love

      Sternberg speaks of “no love” when these three elements are not present in the relationship. The same author claims that couples with consummate or complete love continue to share an intimate desire and passion on all levels, even after many years. However, Sternberg points out that keeping the love consumed is more complicated than achieving it, so it is necessary for couples to work on the three basic elements of their theory. In the end, actions speak louder than words.

      The balance between these three ingredients can change as a relationship progresses. However, time alone doesn’t translate into high intimacy, passion, or commitment. Knowing these three ingredients of love can help actors recognize when they need to improve on any of the elements, or it can help them make the decision to leave. Sternberg concludes that without the expression of the three components, even the most genuine love can die.

      What happens to our brain when we fall in love?

      Many experts on the subject claim that love is a complex phenomenon, and despite a lot of research that has been done so far, there has not always been a consensus among researchers. Falling in love, attraction and love, are complex experiences in which cultural and biological factors interact.

      • But, What happens to our brain when we fall in love? We answer this question in our article “The chemistry of love: a very powerful drug”

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