Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love

Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love

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Let’s talk about a theory of love.
Sternberg has a triangular theory of love which I like to draw in circles, but,
his triangular theory of love suggests that there are three components
to love: your commitment, your passion and your intimacy. So let me draw that. I draw it as interlocking circles because it’s easier to see the intersection of those places
than it is in a triangle, but it is the triangular theory of love. So intimacy. And by intimacy what we mean
is … who do you tell your secrets to? This is not sexual intimacy. This is
who’s your best friend, who do you tell everything to, who do you trust? And with that person you have an
intimate relation. And the second one is passion, and that’s where you get
physical passion, and I don’t need to explain that to you. And the last one is commitment, and this
is a long-term commitment. Are you committed to that person do you live
together, are you married, do you have some sort of
a long-term commitment? And by the intersection of those
circles you can get eight different types of love. So the first type is non-love, and non-love is what you would have for me as your instructor. I don’t love you, you don’t love me,
that would be creepy, right? So there’s no love between us. You would
never say about me “I love her” and I would never say about you “I love you.” The second one is liking, and if you
like somebody then you have intimacy with that person. So I’m going to put the
number … well … I’m going to point to that one.
You have intimacy with that person, but you’re not passionate, you’re not
physically passionate, and you’re not committed to them in
any long-term way. So when you think about a friend and you say “Oh, I love
that person,” you do love them, but it’s really
liking. The third one is infatuation, and if you’re infatuated with somebody
you have passion for them but you don’t have commitment. So you’re not
committed to them in any long-term way. You actually don’t know them very well
either, so you’re not intimate with them. So you have passion only. That would
be infatuation – that’s passion. The fourth one is if you have
commitment only, then that’s empty. Why is that empty … empty sounds sort of sad. And it is sort of sad. If you have a long-term commitment
with somebody who you don’t know very well, or you don’t share any secrets with, and you don’t have any physical
passion for, that’s what Sternberg refers to as empty love. And if you think
about a couple that might be staying together for the sake of the children,
they no longer like each other, they’re no longer physically passionate with
each other, but they do remain committed. So that’s why it’s called empty love. So then I can draw that over there. Now
let’s talk about the intersections of any two of these. So if you have intimacy and commitment
without passion, think about what that might sound like.
You share all your secrets with that person and you have a long-term
commitment with them, but you don’t have physical passion. You think about a
couple that may have been together for a very long time. They sleep in separate
bedrooms. They still love each other, but they’re
not physically passionate with each other. That is companionate love. One of the mistakes that students often make is they call that compassionate
love let’s remember that it’s a companion and
it’s not pity. This is not pity love … there’s no such thing in Sternberg’s
theory as pity love but there is a companion, and it can be very fulfilling. You know, many of these types of love can
be fulfilling without having all of them. Another intersection would be the
idea that you are intimate with the person and passionate, but you’re not yet
committed to that person. And that’s what we call romantic love. Romantic love is
when you’re dating somebody and you’ve been going out with them for a while.There’s physical passion, you share all your secrets, you tell them everything, no
detail is too small, but you’re not yet committed in any long term way. That’s
romantic love, and that’s the kind of love that we often talk about when you
say “I just fell in love with somebody.” The third one which is a little bit
rarer and it’s actually a term that you hardly ever hear, so please email me … fatuous love. You never hear anywhere outside of developmental psychology or
psychology in general, so if you ever hear that word send me an email. Fatuous
love is the presence of commitment and passion without intimacy. So what would
that be like? You don’t know the person very well, yet you engage in a long-term,
committed relationship with them and you’re passionate about them. Think about
somebody who runs off and gets married. You say “Wow, they’ve hardly
known each other and yet they got married. There was this two-week whirlwind
courtship … that’s fatuous love. And then the last one is consummate, and that’s the
gold standard. That’s the presence of intimacy, commitment and passion. It’s got
all of those three things. You know the person really well and you
share their secrets, you’re physically passionate and you
have a long-term commitment. Now I will say that’s consummate love …
that’s the gold standard in a Western situation. Not all societies … you know this is a
very Western model, so when you think about the different
kinds of love, think about what the ideal would be in another culture, because this
is a relatively culture-specific.

24 thoughts on “Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love”

  1. I like this video, at least now I understand. Can you please explain the different types of theories of interpersonal attraction. I'm struggling with that

  2. you can love someone who is a profession, love is shown as a means being kind to each other or not causing harm that is showing love

  3. Oh my gosh. I am so thankful I found this video. This video will help me a LOT to make my report easy and understandable GOOD JOB

  4. Ms. Kim, I love your videos. I'm so curious how you made this video with the backward writing. Please be kind to answer me. Thank you!

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