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Explaining Love with Psychology

Updated: Jul 6

An individual spends his whole life craving it, searching for it, and talking about it. Love has been a favored topic for philosophers, poets, and writers who wrote great detail about it, and everyone is running towards it. Though most have experienced it in their lives, however defining it is a great challenge.


“Love is a complex emotion involving strong feelings of affection and tenderness for the love object, pleasurable sensations in his or her presence, devotion to his or her well-being, and sensitivity to his or her reactions to oneself.” – American Psychological Association.


Love is complex, a mix of emotions, behaviors, and beliefs which are associated with strong feelings of affection, protectiveness, warmth, and respect for another person. Although, Love can be applied to non-humans, principles, religious beliefs, etc. As an individual might say he loves his cat or loves freedom.

It is a set of emotions and behaviors which are characterized by intimacy, passion, and commitment. It involves care, closeness, attraction, trust, and protectiveness, and the intensity of Love can vary and change over time. It is associated with a lot of positive emotions like happiness, excitement, euphoria, etc., however, it can also lead to some negative emotions like jealousy and stress.


Everyone understands love in their own way, and psychologists have tried their way too. Few researchers have proposed a theory of love, in which one of the most considerable theories is by Robert Sternberg.


Robert Sternberg Triangular Theory


In the late 1980s, psychologist, Robert Sternberg developed a triangular theory of love which suggests that people can have varying degrees of intimacy, passion, and commitment at any moment in time. A 2021 study offered empirical support for Sternberg’s theory, particularly for universality.


Sternberg’s theory defines the concept of love in three components:

1. Intimacy: involves feelings of closeness, connectedness, and bondedness.

2. Passion: involves the feelings and desires which lead to physical attraction, romance, and sexual consummation.

3. Decision/Commitment: involves feelings that lead a person to stay with someone and move forward together by sharing goals.


Robert Sternberg mentioned that it is important to recognize that a relationship based on a single element is less likely to survive than one based on two or more. Furthermore, different stages and types of love can be explained through different combinations of the three elements. The three components interact in a manner and create seven kinds of different love experiences. All the different types of love can vary over the course of a relationship as well.


1. Liking: Sternberg says that this type characterizes true friendships, in which a person feels bondedness, warmth, and closeness with one another but not intense passion or long-term commitment.

2. Infatuated Love: Is somewhat like ‘love at first site’, however without intimacy and commitment infatuated love might disappear.

3. Empty Love: Sometimes a stronger love deteriorates into an empty love, where commitment remains but intimacy and passion are no longer present, the reverse might occur as well. In an arranged marriage, for instance, relationships begin with empty love.

4. Romantic Love: It involves the lovers bonded emotionally and physically through passionate arousal. Patterns in this type include deep conversations which help the lovers get to know each other.

5. Companionate Love: It is often found in marriages where passion is gone but a deep affection and commitment remain. It is stronger than friendship because the long-term commitment component is present, and there is minimal or no sexual desire. It can be seen among deep friends or those who spend a lot of time together (in an asexual relationship).

6. Fatuous Love: It involves commitment and passion where intimacy and liking are absent. It’s a typified whirlwind courtship where commitment is motivated largely by passion, without stabilizing the influence of intimacy.

7. Consummate Love: It’s made up of all three components and it’s a total form of love, it is said to represent an ideal relationship. Sternberg cautions that maintaining a consummate love might be even harder than achieving it. He stressed the importance of translating the components of love into action and also stated that consummate love may not be permanent.


According to Sternberg, the importance of each component of love differs from individual to individual, and couple to couple. All three components of love are required for the ideal romantic relationship, but the amount of each component differs for every relationship.


How BluetoYellow Can Help With Relationship Issues?


For every relationship to grow, it needs love, whatever the kind. However, every relationship changes and goes through different stages, and sometimes one might not feel good about a relationship. When a relationship is giving problems to an individual more than love and caring, it may cost that individual’s mental health. Relationships play an important role in emotional health, and if any relationship is causing you discomfort, you can seek professional help.


BluetoYellow is working towards providing quality online counseling sessions to the young population at affordable prices.


Our dynamic therapists follow a client-centric approach that creates a safe and confidential space for you to express your emotions and thoughts without any judgment.


If you are suspecting that any relationship is interfering with your well-being, or if you know someone who can be benefited from the blog, forward the page to bring awareness to them.


You can start your mental health journey with the small step of booking an appointment with BluetoYellow today.

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