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This video is all about Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love which suggests love is a mixture of three components: intimacy, passion and commitment.

Sternberg Love Scale Quiz:

In a previous episode we've discussed a different theory of love styles (Lee's). Here's a link to that video if you're curious:

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Dr. Doe: What if I told you love was simple - like a triangle. There are three major components, and depending on how much or little we have of these three, determines the kind of love we experience.

-- Intro Cut Scene --

Robert Sternberg, a well respected psychologist, came up with this idea, which is why it's official name is the "Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love."

Here's how it goes: Sternberg considers love a combination of passion, intimacy and commitment.  Each of the three points on this triangle. Passion is a physical desire and attraction that drives a relationship to be sexual and/or romantic. Intimacy is closeness and connection, emotional support, mutual understanding, and the communication that comes with all of that. Then there's commitment - the decision to love temporarily or long term.

If all three, passion, intimacy, and commitment are present, and at their full capacity, then Sternberg calls this equilateral triangle "Consummate Love." Consummate - as in complete, accomplished, perfect love, which he suspects most relationships strive for. In contrast to having no commitment, intimacy or passion he calls "Non-love."

Here's where the model gets really cool. It acknowledges that we can have various degrees of each component, and that these variations are love-styles in and of themselves. So, for example, if a relationship is just intimacy, he calls it "liking." You're familiar with that - Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram - sharing the intimacy of your opinions and vulnerability without a commitment or strong passion. It's the relationship we have.

Just commitment Sternberg called "Empty Love" - that's staying together even though there's no familiarity or tenderness. It's more of a partnership, which is not to say that it will always be this way, or always was this way - love changes.

Passion alone is "infatuation" - the feelings of lust and arousal. Without commitment and intimacy, this would be your one-night stands, casual encounters and fleeting crushes. When you feel like you can eat love because you're so intensely infatuated, but there's no substance to keep a healthy relationship alive.

Now, check this out - the triangle sides also represent kinds of love, intimacy and commitment without passion is "Companionate Love" - the kind of love you have for companions or friends or family. Passion and intimacy is "Romantic Love" - typically the first stages before there's a decision to maintain the relationship. It's the dating, get to know you, wanna frisk you elation, without the hard stuff of striving through thick and thin. 

Here's the last one: commitment and passion called "fatuous love." People who are all over each other and ready to move in together without really knowing one another. Kind of like marriage based on sexual interest rather than emotional closeness. 

As you can probably recognize, we slide in and out of these forms - the legs and vertices of our love shifting over time. Maybe passion tires, commitment wains, intimacy fades. Maybe passion burns, intimacy deepens and commitment grows. Your love can be this or this or this or this, within and and across relationships, from one day to the next.

Want to know where you are with your love today? Sternberg's Triangular Theory of love has an accompanying Sternberg Triangular Love Scale - a 45 item survey of your relationship. In the description, there's a link to a site that calculates everything electronically. There you'll find out how your love ranks in intimacy, passion and commitment, as well as you place on the bell curve compared to other lovers.

If you ask me we need more intimacy, passion, and commitment among each other. We need more love. I think that when we're curious rather than afraid, intense rather than passive, and devoted to caring about each other, we're happier.

Stay Curious.