The 26 couple stories according to Sternberg

It seems quite reasonable to say that in the realm of romantic or passionate love one can find as many stories or relationships as there are people in the world. And is that, as they say, each person (and in this case, the relationship), is a world.

This was verified by the American psychologist Robert J. Sternberg through his clinical sessions of couples therapy, thanks to which he carried out a ranking of up to 26 couple stories (Relationships). In this article, we’ll learn about Sternberg’s 26 dating stories, along with their most relevant characteristics.

    The 26 couple stories according to Robert J. Sternberg

    The American psychologist Robert J. Sternberg (1949, New Jersey, USA) is a great researcher on the subject of love, As well as author of the triangular theory of love.

    Based on his clinical experience in couples therapy, Sternberg described up to 5 major groups of couple stories (couple relationships), namely:

    • asymmetric stories
    • object stories
    • Coordination stories
    • narrative stories
    • Gender stories

    In turn, these 5 groups are made up of the 26 couple stories according to Sternberg. After reading them, you may ask yourself: Who would you identify with? Do you know couples from different groups in the classification? Do you think they are very different from each other?

    1. Asymmetric stories

    In the first of Sternberg’s 5 couple stories, we find asymmetry as the basis of the relationship. In asymmetric stories, Sternberg defines June subtypes of the same, namely:

    1.1. Student teacher

    It’s a type of relationship where one teaches and the other learns.

    1.2. sacrifices

    Another type of asymmetric story, where one is sacrificed, while the other is the beneficiary.

    1.3. Government

    In a “government” type relationship, according to Sternberg, power is the fundamental theme, which is exercised in an autocratic, democratic or anarchic manner.

    1.4. police

    In this relationship, metaphorically, one is the cop, while the other is the suspect. It is based on a thought of “everything”.

    1.5. Pornographic

    It is a degrading type of relationship, where one acts as an object and the other as a subject.

    1.6. Terror

    In this different kind of relationship, according to Sternberg one is the victim, while the other terrorizes.

    2. Stories of objects

    In the second group of couple stories according to Sternberg, we find the object stories. Its central feature is that here the person or relationship is valued for its function as an object and not for itself. These types of stories, in turn, are divided into two:

    2.1. The person as an object

    here one of the couple is considered the object of the other. This type of relationship, in turn, is divided into three more:

    • Science fiction: the person is valued for their odd character or behavior.
    • Collection: The person is considered to be part of a collection of couples, where each has a different role.
    • Art: the person is valued for their physical appearance.

    2.2. The relationship as an object

    In the second type of object stories, we find a type of relationship where the relationship itself is the object of one or two members of the couple. In turn, these can be of four different types:

    • House and house: a relationship aims to obtain a house and a second home.
    • Recovery: Relationship is the way to recover from a particular trauma.
    • Religious: a relationship to feel closer to God; it is also possible that the relationship itself becomes a kind of religion (without which the person feels lost).
    • Game: a relationship to feel victorious, where there is constant competitiveness.

    3. Stories of coordination

    In this type of relationship, according to Sternberg, members work to create, make or maintain something. These are generally healthy relationships. As subtypes of the same we find:

    3.1. traveler

    It is based on the idea that love is a journey, and the couple work together to choose and achieve their common destiny. The relationship is understood as a change, as a constant maturation and discovery.

    3.2. Sew and knit

    In this type of relationship, the couple weaves or sews the basis of their relationship, together. Here, love is what we are trying to create.

    3.3. garden

    The next type of relationship, according to Sternberg, is one that emphasizes the care of it.

    3.4. business

    Here the emphasis is on economy and the division of functions.

    3.5. addiction

    The context of the relationship is a context of dependence essential to the life of the couple, With phrases like “I can’t live without …”.

      4. Narrative stories

      In the next type of couple stories according to Sternberg, narrative stories, there is an indicative standard within the relationship, of the way forward. Narrative stories, in turn, are divided into:

      4.1. fantastic

      It is the “ideal” couple, as in the story, based on values ​​such as those hidden behind the story of “prince and princess”.

      4.2. historical

      In the historical couple, the present is defined by the past, that is, the conservation of objects, photos prevail, great importance is given to birthdays and dates indicated, etc.

      4.3. scientist

      In history or scientific relation, a logical and rational analysis of the relation can be carried out. The relationship, moreover, is governed by principles and formulas.

      4.4. Recipe book

      Finally, in the “cookbook” type story, there is a recipe for having a successful relationship, which has to do with the way you act and the “ingredients” of the relationship.

      5. Gender stories

      In the last of the great groups of couple stories according to Sternberg, how you are in the relationship matters more than the content. It is divided into four types:

      5.1. warrior

      In the war relationship, what matters is being “at war”: arguing, fighting, etc. It doesn’t matter what you are fighting for, what matters is that the fighting becomes a motivation for both members of the couple.

      5.2. theatrical

      In theatrical stories, what matters is that everyone has a role, whatever their role.

      5.3. Humor

      In the next couple stories according to Sternberg, what matters most, and what matters, is humor. They are happy, carefree and never serious relationships.

      5.4. Mysterious

      Finally, in mysterious stories or relationships, there is a constant withholding of information by one of the members of the couple. The other is the one who is interested (and often, even stuck) in the mystery.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Morales, JF (1999). Social psychology. Ed. McGraw-Hill. Madrid.
      • Serrano, G. and Carreño, M. (1993). Sternberg’s theory of love. Empirical analysis. Psicothema, 5 (Suppl.): 151-167.
      • Sternberg, RJ (1987). Like vs love: a comparative assessment of theories. Psychological Bulletin, 102 (3): 331-345.

      Leave a Comment