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The Triangular Theory Of

Love
Sternberg, 1986
• Sternberg believed that the type and strength of
one couple’s love could be determined by
measuring the relative strength of the 3
components of Love…
1. Intimacy – feeling of closeness between two
people…
2. Passion – drive leading to romantic
attraction, physical attraction and
eventually sexual involvement…

3. Commitment
– decision to
stay with the
person and forgo
similar
relationships
with others…

3 Components…
• The ideal ‘balanced’ situation would exist when each
side of the ‘Love Triangle’ has been experienced with
sufficient intensity.
• Though ‘perfect balance’ is difficult to achieve, so
Sternberg developed a ‘Typology of Love
Relationships’ in order to accommodate these
interactions between the 3 components (Intimacy,
Passion & Commitment)

Intimac Passion
y

Commitme
nt

Balance?
• Different types of love exist – depending on the
presence/absence of intimacy, passion or
commitment.
• E.g. There can be relationships with intimacy and
passion only or even passion on its own.
• Types of love can be classified according to the
Typology below…

Intimac Passion
y

Commitme
nt

Typology of Love Relationships


• Sternberg noted a fault in his theory – knowing where
you were in a relationship, but not how you got there.
• Secondary theory: individuals start to form
ideas/expectations about what love is. E.g. through
watching others, reading books etc.
• 1998: students interviewed about their personal
expectations.
Findings:
• 25 common stories
• The fairy tale story
(story of a prince and a
princess)
• The gardening story
(relationships left
unattended will not
survive)

Love as a Story