triangular theory of love

Since Love month is not yet over, I am not late to share what I learned in our class. I got really interested to this theory about love that’s why I’m excited to tell this. Well, this Triangular Theory of Love defines different kinds of love and let us know what love we really feel for our parents, friends, crush, special someone, husband, wife or other people surrounding us. Interesting, right? Thanks to the psychologist who made this. Thank you, psychologist Robert Sternberg!

Before getting started, we have to learn the terms, intimacy, commitment and passion in love and their difference among the others.

  • Intimacy – the feeling of being close to and bonded with a partner; requires exposing vulnerabilities
  • Passion – the intense desire that leads to romance, physical and sexual attraction
  • Commitment – consists of making to decisions: one, that you love your partner and two, that you desire to maintain that love and stay with your partner

So, in short, intimacy measures your closeness to your significant other, passion denotes how attractive you find your partner while on the other hand, commitment explains your strong responsibility to him/her. Triangular Theory of Love spells out seven kinds of love consisting of these three things. By using the triangles of psychologist Robert Sternberg, we can see what love we have for others.




Love, with only intimacy, is called liking. Sternberg says that this intimate liking characterizes true friendships which involves trust, bond, sharing, and support. In an intimate relationship, a person feels a sense of warmth and closeness with another, but not intense passion or long-term commitment. Example of liking is what you feel for your friends.


Infatuated Love

infatuated love

Love, with only passion, is called infatuated love. When you are infatuated, you are physically or sexually attracted to the person. Instead of thinking about your crush’s qualities or values, you think more about the appearance and image. Infatuation is often what is felt as “Love at first sight” or “Crush.”


Empty Love

empty love

Love, with only commitment, is called empty love. It occurs when a couple is only forced to be together. In cultures in which arranged marriages are common, relationships often begin as empty love. Sometimes, a stronger love deteriorates into empty love, in which the commitment remains, but the intimacy and passion have died.


Romantic Love

romantic love

Love, with intimacy and passion, but without commitment, is called romantic love. Romantic lovers are bonded emotionally, as in liking, and physically through passionate arousal. It is the typical type of love you see in romance movies – red roses, candlelight dinner, drive-in movies and walk-in-the-park.


Fatuous Love

fatuous love

Love, with commitment and passion, but without intimacy, is called fatuous love. It can be exemplified by a whirlwind courtship and marriage in which a commitment is motivated largely by passion, with no chance for intimacy to settle in.


Companionate Love

companionate love

Love, with commitment and intimacy, but without passion, is called companionate love. It is generally a personal relation you build with somebody you share your life with, but with no sexual or physical desire. It is often found in marriages in which the passion has gone out of the relationship, but a deep affection and commitment remain.


Consummate Love

consumate love

Consummate love is the complete form of love, consisting of all this three, commitment, intimacy and passion. It represents the ideal relationship toward which many people strive but which apparently few achieve. Sternberg cautions that maintaining a consummate love may be even harder than achieving it. He stresses the importance of translating the components of love into action.


© Robert Sternberg