Three Components to Love? Yes!

Dr. Sternberg’s research on love and its components is some of the best I have read.  Rather than a spiritual approach to love, he really sought to understand love from a practical standpoint and found that love has three components, or traits.  These are:

  1. Intimacy – which has to do with the friendship and closeness in a relationship
  2. Passion – this includes the desire for and romantic attraction of love; hes this means sex too…
  3. Decision/Commitment – this is a definite decision to enter into a loving relationship with another and a sense of commitment to them and the relationship.

I found his theory wonderful as this allows us to understand love in any relationship.  The following graphic provides insight into love from its various traits and what it looks like with select traits lacking.  Love has its greatest meaning when all three components are present, or what he calls Consummate love.  If only Intimacy is present, he points out that these folks simply like each other.  Love devoid of passion and intimacy is empty love.  And passion without intimacy and commitment is infatuation.

This might help us understand why many relationships break up and fall apart as they lose one or two of these components.  For example, couples who cohabitate tend to have passion and intimacy but no commitment.  Thus the reason that if these couples marry the majority divorce.  Why, commitment was not a part of the relationship.

I will leave the graphic for you to consider.  Good day…

2 thoughts on “Three Components to Love? Yes!

  1. What happens to this dynamic when there are health problems that don’t allow for sexual intimacy for either the short or long term? Vows are “I. Sickness and in health.”


    • Great question. The intimacy, think friendship, love and commitment are strong. These keep the positive feelings of love and connection strong. Passion, think romance as well as sexual attraction, can still be maintained to some degree with a little bit of cooperation, creativity, etc.


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