Sternberg’s Theory Of Love And The 7 Types of Love

Love is important for our well-being. When asked to describe love, people will have different answers depending on how they encountered it in their lives.

Few scholars have suggested a functional theory of the meaning of love. At the end of the 1980s, the psychologist, Dr. Robert Sternberg, created a triangular love theory to describe or define love.

This theory implies that the degree of intimacy, enthusiasm, and dedication encountered by people differs at any given time.

Components Or Elements Of Love

According to Dr. Sternberg’s theory of love, the idea of love is described as a triangle of love, consisting of three components or elements.

  • Intimacy: This entails feelings of bonding, connectivity, and closeness.
  • Passion: This involves impulses and emotions that contribute to physical attraction, romance, and sexual consummation.
  • Commitment/Decision: This includes emotions that make someone stay with a person and work towards mutual goals.

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Finding a balance between the desire for love and the psychological need for sexual pleasure is important, and the complete non-existence of all three components is called Non-love.

The 7 Types Of Love

The three elements of love connect in a systemic way, one operating with the aid of the other. The existence of one component or a combination of two or more components creates seven forms of experiences of love. These seven types of love may alternate during the course of the relationship.

The 7 types of love include:

Friendship Love

Friendship love may be the cornerstone of other kinds of love. This love is present when the love or intimacy aspect is present, but there are no feelings of commitment or passion in the romantic sense.

Infatuation Love

The infatuation love is characterized by a feeling of sexual passion and lust without love and devotion. There has not been enough time to establish intimacy, romantic love, or consummate love.

Other forms of love may gradually evolve as the infatuation phase fades away. The initial infatuation is always so strong that the persons involved will “carry a touch” with each other, not entirely certain whether they have what it takes to maintain a deeper and more enduring love.

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The medical information provided in this article is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

Empty Love

This kind of love is characterized by a lack of affection or intimacy. Intense love also disintegrates into empty love.

Other times, the other way around can occur. For example, an arranged marriage may begin as an empty love, but later, over time, it will bloom into other types of love.

Romantic Love

Romantic love emotionally binds people to one another through physical passion and intimacy. A couple involved in a kind of relationship initiates deep conversations that encourage them to know each other’s intimate information.

Sternberg’s Theory Of Love And The 7 Types of Love

They have sexual love and passion. These couples may be at a point in the relationship where plans and long-term commitments are still undecided.

Companionate Love

This kind of love blends the affection and dedication component with the lack of a desire component. It is more powerful than friendship, since it requires a long-term commitment.

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There is little or no sexual attraction and desire. This is also seen in marriages where love has died, but the couple still feel deep affection and bond for each other. This can also be compared to the affection expressed by family members or very close friends.

Fatuous Love

This love includes the desire component and the decision or engagement component of the triangle. This kind of love is indicative of a whirlwind courtship and marriage in which passion forces a couple to commit.

Without the stabilizing influence of intimacy in the relationship. Witnessing this also leaves other people uncertain about how impulsive a couple may be. Unfortunately, such relationships and marriages don’t last long, and when most people do, they just blame it for chance.

Consummate Love

This kind of love incorporates all three components of the triangle of love and is the highest kind of love. Partners who share this kind of love have had better sex in their relationship for a few years.

This love is so strong that couples who experience it can’t imagine finding happiness without their partners, they can’t even imagine having someone else.

They manage to set disagreements aside and resolve life stressors together. However, according to Dr. Sternberg, consummate love can be difficult to sustain than it is to achieve, since all the components of the triangle of love must work together.

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In the absence of action and speech, passion is lost, and love can later deteriorate to the form of companion.


Dr. Sternberg’s theory of love is based on the fact that the importance of each factor will vary from partner to partner and from couple to couple.

To be sure, all three components must come into play for an ideal romantic relationship, but the amount of each component required may vary from one relationship to another, or even over time within a specific relationship.

Understanding how these elements interact with each other can help to recognize areas in your relationship that need improvement.

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