A Triangular Theory of Love Essay

16226 WordsApr 8, 201165 Pages
A Triangular Theory of Love This article presents a triangular theory of love. According to the theory, love has three components: (a) intimacy, which encompasses the feelings of closeness, connectedness, and bondedness one experiences in loving relationships; (b) passion, which encompasses the drives that lead to romance, physical attraction, and sexual consummation; and (c) decision/commitment, which encompasses, in the short term, the decision that one loves another, and in the long term, the commitment to maintain that love. The amount of love one experiences depends on the absolute strength of these three components, and the kind of love one experiences depends on their strengths relative to each other. The three components…show more content…
In general, the intimacy component might be viewed as largely, but not exclusively, deriving from emotional investment in the relationship; the passion component as deriving largely, although not exclusively, from motivational involvement in the relationship; and the decision/commitment component as deriving largely, although not exclusively, from cognitive decision in and commitment to the relationship. From one point of view, the intimacy component might be viewed as a "warm" one, the passion component as a "hot" one, and the decision/commitment component as a "cold" one. The experience of love can be partitioned in a number of ways, and so it is important to note at the outset that the present partitioning into intimacy, passion, and decision/commitment is not the only one possible, nor is it even valid for all possible purposes. Nevertheless, the argument will be made that the pro1 My use of the term components in this article differs from my use of the term in my theorizing about intelligence (e.g., Sternberg, 1985), where the term is used to refer to a mental process. 119 120 ROBERT J. STERNBERG posed partitioning is particularly useful for understanding the elements of love, and how they function in close relationships. Although love, like other psychological phenomena, can be partitioned into various kinds of components, it is important not to lose sight of the
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