Most people envision a romance with husband/wife/lover. However,there are several additional kinds of love: parent-child, brother-sister, that of a friend...
Robert J. Sternberg of Yale University says love can be divided into three components: intimacy, passion, and decision/commitment. The intimacy component includes the closeness, connectedness and warmth one feels in a loving relationship; intimacy may be expressed by:
- Promoting the loved one's welfare.
- Having high regard for him/her.
- Having a mutual understanding.
- Sharing of one's self, time and possessions.
- Receiving and giving emotional support.
- Communicating intimate inner feelings.
- Valuing the loved one in one's life.
The decision/commitment component of love consists of two aspects: the short-term decision that one is in love and the long-term commitment to maintain that love.
Sternberg places the three components of love on the points of a triangle. How much of each is present in a loving relationship determines the shape of the triangle and the type of love one is experiencing.
Non-love: The absence of all three components. This includes the majority of our personal relationships, which are mainly casual interactions.
Liking: Includes intimacy only; passion and decision/commitment are not present. Friendship is a good example.
Infatuated love: Includes passion with intimacy or decision/commitment.
Empty love: Includes decision/commitment but no passion or intimacy. This type of love does not have emotional involvement and physical attraction. It often occurs in our society at or near the end of a relationship.
Romantic love: A combination of intimacy and passion where the couple is drawn together physically and emotionally. It is difficult to maintain romantic love over a long period of time.
Companionate love: A combination of intimacy and decision/commitment. This often happens when the physical attraction has died down, as in some long-term marriages. It also includes the typical parent-child and sibling relationships.
Fatuous love: A combination of passion and decision/commitment without intimacy (the whirlwind courtship). Commitment is made on the basis of passion without intimacy being developed. It often leads to divorce unless intimacy develops later.
Consummate love: Complete love, a full combination of the three components. Reaching this goal is often easier than maintaining it.
Some things couples can do to keep love alive include:
- Avoid stagnation. Change is OK. Different things work for different couples: vacations, developing new mutual interests, experimenting with new behaviours.
- Don't be too predictable. Although people want some predictability, too much leads to boredom.
- Analyze each other's needs, and how they can be met.
- Occasionally, do something special with or for the other person.