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7 Types of Love in Robert Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love

Love is an incredible feeling that has caused wars, suicides, and intrigues throughout history. Although some people do not believe in the existence of true love, this feeling, which is explained in Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love, can make people do incredible things.

It is a subject that has been covered in thousands of movies, books, and songs so far outside of real life. It’s such a powerful emotion that once you fall in love, there is nothing you can’t do anymore. Best wishes and get well soon, my dear friend.

Is There Such Thing as Love?

People who don’t believe in love can often get this feeling after a negative experience. You may think there is such thing as love or not but scientifically speaking, there is this feeling called love.

Do not lose hope if you really want to find love but also do not change yourself to find it. Love comes and finds you when you least expect it.

How Do We Know That We’re In Love?

No worries, you will find it out instantly. When you see him/her and experience obvious changes in your mood and body such as excitement, sweating, trembling, you should be aware that love is knocking on your door. Sleepless nights are waiting for you.

Let’s talk about Robert Sternberg, a psychologist who has studied love, and his theory named Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love.

Who is Robert Sternberg?

Robert J. Sternberg is an American psychologist and psychometrician. He was born on December 8th, 1949 in Newark, New Jersey. He is Professor of Human Development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University and Honorary Professor of Psychology at Heidelberg University in Germany.

Sternberg is the author of over two dozens books that cover philosophy, love, humans and society. He is the creator of the Triangular Theory of Love as well as many other theories on intelligence, ethical reasoning, and thinking styles.

What is Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love?

It’s a theory created by psychologist Robert Sternberg to describe the dimensions of love with different combinations of intimacy, commitment, and passion. It helps you understand the type of love you are in and how you can improve your relationship.

What are the 3 Components in the Theory of Love?

  1. Intimacy: In this component, there is commitment but not too strict. Intimacy is at the level of friendship. There is intimacy and that’s all. It consists of closeness, connectedness, and bondedness.
  2. Passion: There is mutual attraction. Sexuality and romance are at the forefront. It does not include any responsibility. It is pleasure-oriented.
  3. Commitment: The relationship with features such as responsibility and planning has come to a state where it can be carried forward. It includes loyalty which leads a person to remain with the same person and go after common goals.

What are 7 Types of Love?

The first one is more like the inability to fall in love. The situation between you and those you see as friends. The others are the actual love that couldn’t empty, insane, romantic, stupid (you guessed it), and of course, perfect!

1. Liking or friendship

It is a situation that can be considered as a friendship. There is a closeness, but nothing much more. Intimacy or liking components might be present but the romantic feelings like passion or commitment are missing. However, it can lead it to other forms of love.

2. Infatuation (Insane) love

Infatuation love is the emotion that is dominated by physical attraction and hormonal situations that occur in our body, usually at first sight.

If feelings of intimacy and commitment begin to form over time, it turns into romantic love. Otherwise, it will end as fast as it started because there has not been enough time for developing intimacy or consummate love.

3. Empty love

Empty love is a kind of habit state in which physical attraction is not felt and hormonal changes are not experienced. We can include logical marriages in this group.

Even the most romantic love can turn into empty love over time. The opposite can occur as well. For instance, an arranged marriage without love may turn into other forms of love.

4. Romantic love

It emerges with the formation of attachment between partners who feel physically close. It connects people bonds emotionally with the help of intimacy and physical passion. The best way to figure out if you are in this type of love is to see if you can have deep conversations with your partner.

5. Companionate (friendly) love

Companionate love is a little more than friendship. There is no passion, but there is a high commitment. It’s intimate but not passionate. There could be sexual desire but it’s minimal.

Marriages often turn into companionate love. The couple doesn’t have passion but they continue having deep affection and a strong bond. The love between close friends and family members can be categorized as companionate love as well.

6. Fatuous (stupid) love

Fatuous love is a kind of unreasonable love. Commitment and passion are incredibly high but intimacy or liking is absent. It makes people make a lot of mistakes. Marriages that involve this kind of love generally don’t work out, unfortunately.

7. Consummate (perfect) love

Consummate love is the healthiest love model. It includes the elements of intimacy, commitment, and passion in the Triangular Theory of Love.

Couples who experience this form of love have great sex several years into their relationship and they do not believe that they can be ever happy with someone else. It is possible to come to this dimension in the relationship but it is more important to be able to sustain it.

What is True Love?

To understand that you are truly in love, you must know what true love is like. True love is a very high degree of emotional and physical attachment to a person. Even if your feelings are very intense, the bond between you may not be true love. Sometimes we confuse obsessive feelings or fear of losing with love.

8 Crucial Indicators about Your Relationship’s Health

In order not to experience this confusion and to understand whether you are experiencing true love, we can decide by looking at 8 basic indicators in your relationship. If you have these basic items between you and the person you are in a relationship with, you are on the right track.

1. You care about the person you love unconditionally

You always support them, even if they are failing at their job, even when their life circumstances are getting worse, and they are making the wrong decisions for both of you. They are at the center of your life and you may feel like you adore them. Even their mistakes make you love them more, all you want is for them to be happy and feel valued.

2. You accept the person you are in love with every way

You don’t try to change that person’s bad traits, you don’t try to make them a better person or correct their mistakes. You accept and love them in every way, you wouldn’t even think of them changing. You are in love with them in every way and you don’t want that to change, you appreciate and approve of them.

3. Being open and vulnerable with the person you love doesn’t worry you

If you are in love with them, you want to be more honest and sincere, you want to share more, both emotionally and physically. Even if what you have to say causes you to be vulnerable or misunderstood, you keep telling it and you want it to know everything.

4. You cannot act next to the person you love

Next to them, you do not try to show yourself as a different person, you do not hide your interests and passions. You want to experience everything that will happen with it and you try to make it as enjoyable as possible.

5. You respect the person you love

You treat each other with such respect and love that you almost become one person. A high level of empathy develops between you, even your conflicts and fights become constructive, and you realize that you can maintain your relationship for many years.

6. You have similar values and principles as the person you love

You may have different cultural or religious values, you may have grown up in different social environments, but you usually agree when making a decision. Whatever is right for you is right for them, they will see a situation that you see wrong as wrong and will agree with you.

7. Making the person you love happy makes you happy too

The happier they are, the happier you will be, and when they achieve something, you rejoice as if you had succeeded. If you are playing a game between you, you even enjoy losing because you start to see the feelings of the person you love more than your own.

8. We can say that you are a team or accomplice with the person you are in love with

If you started dedicating your lives to each other, you stop making decisions for yourself and start making decisions for both of you. You start to make decisions with them even for the city you want to live in, the country you want to go on vacation, or the foreign language you want to learn because it has become an indispensable part of your life.

How Do You Know You’re With The Right Person?

You shouldn’t make hasty decisions to start a relationship because everyone who just met can be kind and helpful to each other. Getting to know people takes time, especially if there is someone you are considering starting a relationship with, you should be much more careful.

As stated earlier in this Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love summary, you should pay attention to how he/she behaves not only towards you but also towards others, if they behave badly towards others, it means that they will treat you in the same way in the future. If they try not to use the mobile phone with you, cannot pick up the phone when you call, and then calls you, these are suspicious behaviors. One of the most important stages in a relationship is honesty, if they act like they are hiding something, you should question them and understand what is going on as soon as possible.

If they talk badly about their previous relationship or talks about exaggerated sexual experiences, you should also consider these as unsafe acts.

7 Types of Love in Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love

Every person can change when a relationship starts, but this change should be positive. If they were very understanding towards you at the beginning of your relationship, but they are no longer as understanding as they are used to be, it may mean that you may have bigger problems in the future.

If they talk about marriage and future plans in the first days of the relationship, they may be trying to gain your trust as soon as possible, and this is negative behavior. If they make exaggerated promises, promises that you know you can’t keep, you might think he’s unreliable.

As mentioned earlier in this Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love post, If they are jealous even in ordinary social situations, they may lack self-confidence, or they may have been cheated on in their previous relationships and this has turned into trauma for them. If they cannot solve this problem, they will interfere with your social life, meeting with your friends, and cause you to live in prison.

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As I traverse my twenties, I’m aware that I’m in that psychosocial development phase where I’m tasked with being in a relationship or not… to be intimate or to isolate is the question (some Erikson for all my nursing peeps 😂) A tool that I feel helps me is Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love that I drew right here. I learned about it in undergrad in my human sexuality class and it made me think about love from an academic perspective, I guess. I would imagine most of us want consummate love, a love that consists of intimacy, passion, and commitment. But anywho, I really like this Triangular Theory of Love because it honestly helps me piece out how I feel about people. Maybe it makes me feel like I’m in control of my feelings because I can put a label to them…or maybe I like it because it feels like I have some control over variables which will less likely lead me to being hurt. Anyways, being in your twenties and trying to figure out life is a trip 👽.

A post shared by Rie, RN 👩🏻‍⚕️ (@nurserierie) on

If they decide what to do every time you want to do something, it is not a healthy relationship between you. If you have to watch the movie they want every time you decide to go to the cinema, if you have to sit where they want every time you go to a cafe, they think that you are unimportant in this relationship.

Further on Robert Sternberg Theory

Pay attention to how they treat you in front of their own friends, if they insult you in front of them, it shows that they don’t really value you. There’s no point in apologizing to you after their friends are gone or treating you in a caring way when you’re just alone. They are just using you and showcasing power to others.

You need to feel good around them, they should encourage you to talk and show that they value your ideas. People should be able to talk freely in front of the people they are in a relationship with and fatuous love. If they are constantly trying to embarrass you and makes you feel inadequate, you cannot have a relationship with such a person, you will lose your self-respect.

If time passes faster when you’re with them and you don’t want to leave their side, if it makes you feel good, these are the feelings that should be. If they ask you for your ideas and informs you before doing anything, it shows that they value you.

We can say that you are with the right person if a few nice words you hear from them after a very bad day make you feel good, make you proud in front of others, and don’t hesitate to show their fatuous love for you.

Why is the Triangular Theory of Love Important?

It is important to understand this concept to be able to maintain a lasting love. All three components in Sternberg’s theory are required for an ideal romantic relationship. Their amount could be different based on person but they should exist. Understating these components make it easier to understand each other and build a perfect love.

Please share your thoughts about the logic and feelings behind Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love. We love hearing from our readers!

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