The Triangle of Love

The triangle of love

The triangle of love

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss the Triangle of Love – Intimacy, Passion and Commitment.

First a quick update:

“Scientific & psychological reasons women love bad boys”
We say to teenagers when they engage in reckless or stupid behavior “What were you thinking?” So what are women thinking when they get attracted to and love bad boys? Find out in this article

Follow me on Twitter– You can now choose to follow me and receive a few words of wisdom on Twitter: @Behavior_Expert

“The hypocrisy of relationships”
We demand unconditional love; we expect it. However, do we also love unconditionally? If we expect someone to love us no matter what, can we do the same in return? Can we love someone no matter how they treat us or what they do to us? Watch the video: 

Now, let’s talk about the Triangle of Love – Intimacy, Passion and Commitment.

In my series of videos on love, I reveal that there are 6 types of love – Eros, Storge, Philia, Agape, Passionate, and Companionate Love. You can learn more about these in this video.

However, there are also 3 components to achieve and experience Consummate Love – the ideal love for which we all strive, the complete, whole and satisfying love:

  1. Intimacy
  2. Passion
  3. Commitment

This concept is known as the Triangular Theory of Love, developed by psychologist Robert Sternberg, Professor of Human Development at Cornell University.

Intimacy (warm love) refers to attachment, closeness, caring, emotional support, connectedness, and bondedness.

Passion (hot love) refers to states of emotional and physiological arousal – intense emotional experiences and sexual attraction.

Commitment (cold love) refers to the initial decision to remain with another person plus the long term plans made with the other person, including the decision to commit to loving the other person and maintaining that love over time.

It is also critical to note that these 3 components often develop with the relationship. For example, the relationship may begin with a sexual attraction and if nothing else develops, then the love is and usually ends purely as infatuated love (also referred to as Passionate Love.)
Passion alone cannot carry a romantic relationship. The passion or sexual attraction usually lasts for 12 -18 months. Sometime, it might last as long as 30 months. Read more

Intimacy is the friendship component of a relationship – bond, closeness, caring and sincerely liking the other person – having warm feelings towards the other person. Note that intimacy cannot occur without vulnerability.  If there is only intimacy in the relationship (no passion or commitment) then the relationship is a friendship.

“You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough.” – Frank Crane (Often incorrectly attributed to Walter Anderson but actually quoted by Frank Crane in Business Education World, Vol. 15 (1935) p. 172.)

When commitment is added to the intimacy, the relationship can be transformed into Companionate Love. In other words, the passion may have gone, and what remain are deep affection, care, trust, and a commitment to each other. Close friends who have a platonic but strong friendship are also expressing Companionate Love.

“I learned the real meaning of love.  Love is absolute loyalty.  People fade, looks fade, but loyalty never fades.  You can depend so much on certain people, you can set your watch by them.  And that’s love, even if it doesn’t seem very exciting.“ – Sylvester Stallone

We refer to commitment as “cold” because it is perceived as a conscious decision, although that decision is intended to build and maintain the love as well as accept responsibility for each other.

If there is no intimacy, no passion and no commitment, then this is known as “Nonlove” – the type of casual interactions many of us experience with work colleagues, hobby buddies and companions, and acquaintances.

If there is commitment in the relationship but it is devoid of passion and intimacy, then it becomes an “Empty love” – 2 people who stay in a marriage for the children or for finances, and they share little else – they do not share emotions or passion.

“Romantic love: occurs when there is intimacy and passion but no commitment. The attraction is physical and emotional – there is sexual and emotional arousal and bonding but one or both partners refuse to commit to each other, refusing to make plans to continue to maintain and build the love.

If there is passion and the couple makes a quick decision to commit to each other before intimacy is developed, then this is known as Fatuous love. However, the relationship can evolve if they choose to become emotionally intimate.

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” – Seuss

The ideal love, the one we all long for, is complete or Consummate love, where all 3 components of intimacy, passion and commitment exist and are strongly felt by both partners in the relationship. We often refer to the “perfect couple” – the couple who enjoys all 3 components.

Dr. Robert Sternberg in his book “Cupid’s Arrow: The Course of Love through Time” states that couples who experience Consummate love are identified by 4 major characteristics; they:

  1. Continue to have great sex 15 years or more into the relationship
  2. Cannot imagine themselves happier over the long-term with anyone else
  3. Overcome their few difficulties gracefully
  4. Each revel in the relationship with one other

However, love is never static and it constantly needs nurturing. Consummate love might even be easily attained or achieved, but, it still requires effort and action to maintain over the long term.

“Without expression, even the greatest of loves can die.” – Dr. Robert Sternberg

The expression of love is always a choice!

You can post your comment on this newsletter below:

If this newsletter was forwarded to you and would like to receive all of my newsletters please enter your email address on the home page.

I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

Facebook Comments