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Triangular Love Theory

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About love
Psychologists and researchers have proposed a number of different theories of love. Love is a basic human emotion, but understanding how and why it happens is not necessarily easy. In fact, for a long time, many people suggested that love was simply something that science couldn’t understand. The following are four of the major theories proposed to explain liking, love, and emotional attachment.

Scales of Liking and Loving
The nature of love has been explored by a number of theorists. The first researchers to develop and instrument designed to empirically measure love is Zick Rubin a Social psychologist. According to Rubin, romantic love is made up of three elements:

The need of to be cared for and be with the other person. Physical contact and approval are also important components of attachment.

Valuing the others happiness and needs as much as your own.

Sharing private thoughts, feelings, and desires with the other person. According to the view of romantic love, Rubin developed two questionnaires to measure these variables. The results allowed Rubin to identify 13 questions for ‘liking’ and 13 questions for ‘loving’ that were reliable measures of these two variables.

Rubin’s Liking and Loving Scale are as the following examples are similar to some of the questions used in:

Items Measuring Liking
I feel that _____________ is a very stable person.
I have confidence in ______________’s opinions.
I think that ______________ is usually well-adjusted.
__________ is one of the most likeable people I know.

Items Measuring Loving
I feel strong feelings of possessiveness towards ____________. I like it when __________ confides in me.
I would do almost anything for _____________.
I find it easy to ignore __________’s faults.

Love is not a concrete concept and is therefore difficult to measure. However, Rubin’s scales of liking and loving offer a way to measure the complex feeling of love. In 1958, psychologist Harry Harlow suggested that “so far as love or affection is concerned, psychologists have failed in their mission. The little we know about love does not transcend simple observation, and the little we write about it has been written better by poets and novelists.” Rubin’s researched marked an important step forward in the understanding of romantic love and paved the way for future research on this fascinating topic.

Compassionate love and passionate love

Compassionate love and passionate love two different types of love describe by Psychologist Elaine Hatfield. Compassionate love involves feelings of mutual respect, trust and affection, while passionate love involves intense feelings and sexual attraction.

Hatfield defined passionate love as:
“A state of intense longing for union with another. Passionate love is a complex functional whole including appraisals or appreciations, subjective feelings, expressions, patterned physiological processes, action tendencies, and instrumental behaviors. Reciprocated love (union with the other) is associated with fulfillment and ecstasy. Unrequited love (separation) with emptiness, anxiety, or despair”.

Factors Influencing Passionate and Compassionate Love
Some of the factors associated with passionate love are as follows:

Being “ready” to be in love with another person is essential.

Early attachment styles
Securely attached individuals tend to form deeper, longer lasting love, while those who are anxiously attached tend to fall in and out of love quickly.

Hatfield and Rapson note that we tend to fall passionately in love with people who are relatively good looking, personable, affectionate and similar to ourselves.

While passionate love is intense, it is generally very fleeting. Researchers have looked at how relationships progress among new couples, newlyweds and those married for a longer time and found that while passionate love is more intense at the beginning of relationships, it tends to give way to compassionate love that is focused on intimacy and commitment.

Compassionate love endures while Passionate love may be quick to fade.

Triangular Love Theory
Robert Sternberg is an American psychologist, Professor of Psychology and Provost at Oklahoma State University. Psychologist Robert Sternberg developed the triangular theory of love in 1986. Sternberg has made many contributions to the field of psychology, including two major theories: the triangular theory of love and the triarchic theory of intelligence.

In the triangular theory of love Sternberg suggests that there are three components of love: intimacy, passion and commitment. Different combinations of these three components result in different types of love. For example, a combination of intimacy and commitment results in compassionate love, while a combination of passion and intimacy leads to passionate love.

The triangular love theory is based on the three components of love:
Emotional intimacy is an aspect of interpersonal relationships that varies in intensity from one relationship to another and varies from one time to another. Emotional intimacy can be expressed in verbal and non-verbal communication. The degree of comfort, effectiveness and mutual experience of closeness might indicate emotional intimacy between individuals. An interpersonal relationship is an association between two or more people . Passion

Passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something. In love relations Passion is the drives that contribute to physical attraction, sexual desire, lust, euphoria, and romance. Commitment

Commitment is the decision to love someone and remain loyal, in order to maintain the relationship.

According to Sternberg, these three love components differ with respect to a number of properties, including stability, conscious controllability, and experiential salience. For example, the elements of intimacy and decision/commitment are usually quite stable in close relationships however; passion tends to be less stable and predictable. In addition, people possess a great deal of conscious control over the commitment they made in a relationships and possess at least some degree of control over their feelings of intimacy, they actually have very little conscious control over the amount of passion that they experience for their partners.

Sternberg suggests relationships built on two or more elements are more enduring that those based upon a single component. Sternberg uses the term consummate love to describe a combination of intimacy, passion and commitment. While this type of love is the strongest and most enduring, Sternberg suggests that this type of love is rare. The three basic components of love combine to produce eight different love types are as follows:

No intimacy, passion, or decision/commitment describes casual interactions that are characterized by the absence of all three love components.

According to triangular love theory is liking. Liking consists of only intimacy. This type of love typically applies to friends, which is a person feels bonded, warmth, and a closeness with another but not intense passion or long-term commitment. But that does not necessarily mean that a romantic relationship cannot bloom. Some people are actually friends with someone for a while before they begin to have romantic feelings for that person.

An example of infatuated love is when you experience love at first sight. This type of love is referred to as infatuated love; Infatuation is the state of being completely carried away by unreasoned passion or love, you are physically attracted to the person and may feel sexual urges, but there is no intimacy or commitment. Infatuated love can evolve into a “higher level” of love later on. However, many cases of infatuated love appear and vanish relatively swiftly.

Empty love
Empty love consists of only commitment. There is neither passion nor intimacy in empty love. Most people tend to think of a once thriving, passionate relationship that slowly morphed into an empty love many years later. While some marriages do turn into empty love, that is not the only example. Another form of empty love is arranged marriages. Initially, you are married to someone you didn’t choose and are expected to remain committed. Most arranged marriages begin with empty love, but can transform into a different type of love.

Romantic love
According to Sternberg’s triangular theory of love, romantic love is the combination of passion and intimacy. This means that you like and desire someone, but are not willing to commit. A relationship that begins with romantic love can turn into liking once the passion dies. In the event that commitment is developed, the relationship can evolve into consummate love.

Companionate Love
Companionate love is often found in long term marriages when the passion has gone out of the relationship, but a deep affection and commitment remain. Companionate love is generally a personal relation you build with somebody you share your life with, but with no sexual or physical desire. However the differences of companionate love and friendship are that the companionate is stronger than friendship, because of the extra element of commitment. The love ideally shared between family members is a form of companionate love, as is the love between deep friends or those who spend a lot of time together in any asexual but friendly relationship.

Fatuous love
Fatuous love can be demonstrated by a whirlwind courtship and marriage in which a commitment is motivated largely by passion, without the stabilizing influence of intimacy.

Consummate love
It is the complete form of love, representing an ideal relationship which people strive towards. Of the seven varieties of love, consummate love is theorized to be that love associated with the “perfect couple.” According to Sternberg, these couples will continue to have great sex fifteen years or more into the relationship, they cannot imagine themselves happier over the long-term with anyone else, they overcome their few difficulties gracefully, and each delight in the relationship with one other. However, 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. “Without expression,” he warns, “even the greatest of loves can die. Thus, consummate love may not be permanent. If passion is lost over time, it may change into companionate love.

The Color Wheel Model of Love

John Lee compared styles of love to the color wheel. Just as there are three primary colors, Lee suggested that there are three primary styles of love. These three styles of love are: (1) Eros, (2) Ludos and (3) Storge.

Continuing the color wheel analogy, Lee proposed that just as the primary colors can be combined to create complementary colors, these three primary styles of love could be combined to create nine different secondary love styles. For example, a combination of Eros and Ludos results in Mania, or obsessive love. Those types of love are called “color of love”

Lee’s 6 Styles of Loving

Three primary styles:
Eros – Loving an ideal person
Ludos – Love as a game
Storge – Love as friendship

Three secondary styles:
Mania (Eros + Ludos) – Obsessive love
Pragma (Ludos + Storge) – Realistic and practical love
Agape (Eros + Storge) – Selfless love

Later Clyde Hendrick and Susan Hendrick, expanded on this theory. They have found that men tend to be more ludic, whereas women tend to be storgic and pragmatic. Mania is often the first love style teenager’s display. Relationships based on similar love styles were found to last longer. People often look for people with the same love style as themselves for a relationship.

Eros Lovers: Beauty and Sexuality
The erotic lover focuses more on beauty and physical attraction, sometimes to point where they exclude other qualities people may find more important and lasting.

Ludus: Entertainment and Excitement
Ludic lovers are players. More interested in quantity than quality of relationships, they want to have as much fun as possible, choose their partners by playing the field, and quickly recover from break-ups. For them, love is not to be taken too seriously and emotions should be kept in check. Ludic lovers are also very self-controlled, they always find the need to manage love, rather than let love be in control.

Pragma Lover: Practilality and Tradition
These lovers are practical and seek a relationship that will work. Pragma lovers want compatibility, and a relationship that will satisfy all their needs, desires and wants. They are more concerned with social qualities rather than personal ones; family and background are very important to pragma lovers, who don’t rely so much on feelings as on logic. They view love as a useful relationship, and as a way to make the rest of life easier. They ask questions when choosing a potential partner such as: “Will this person earn a good live?”, “Can this person cook?”, “Will my family like this person?”. Their relationships hardly ever decay, because they choose their partners very carefully and emphasize similarities; they also have realistic romantic expectations.

Mania Lovers: Elation and Depression
Mania lovers are characterized as having extreme highs and extreme lows. The manic lover loves intensely, and at the time worries intensely about the loss of the love. For this, the manic lover may experience fear that prevents them from enjoying relationships. With little reason, they may also experience extreme jealously. Manic love is obsessive; the manic lover has to possess the beloved completely. In return, the manic lover wishes to be possessed, to be loved intensely. They tend to feel that their poor self-esteem with only improve with intense love. Their sense of self-worth comes from being loved, rather than from inner satisfaction. Because love is so important, danger signs in a relationship are often ignored; the manic lover believes that if there is love, then nothing else matters.

Agape Lovers: Compassion and Selflessness
Agape (ah-guh-pay) is a compassionate, egoless, self-giving love. The agape lover loves even people with whom he or she has no close ties. This lover loves the stranger on the road even though they will probably never meet again. Agape is a spiritual love, offered without concern for personal reward or gain. This lover loves without expecting that the love will be reciprocated.

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