love triangle theory (2023)


The purpose of this article is to discuss Sternberg's love triangle theory, its stages and applications, and its relationship to love.

love triangle theory

It is a theory of love developed by physiologist Robert Stenberg to identify three dimensions or components of love to "describe the impermanence in love relationships" (Beebe SA, Beebe SJ, & Raymond MV, 2014, p. 326). Physiologist Robert Sternberg developed his theory of the love triangle after identifying passionate love and partnered love as relationships to relationships. According to Beebe SA, Beebe SJ, and Raymond MV (2014) "show that all love relationships can be described along three dimensions: intimacy, commitment, and passion."

the geometry of the love triangle

According to the love triangle theory of Robert Sternberg and Karin Sternberg (2008), the ideal relationship is one that includes all three elements (intimacy, passion, and commitment), all of which depend on the "amount and balance of love" of the partner or spouse. According to Scott F. Madey, Rodgers, and Lindsey (2009): “The love triangle theory speculates that intimacy, passion, and commitment are essential components of perfect or complete love. These elements also help illustrate how love manifests itself in a relationship. According to (n.d.): "The love triangle theory explains the theme of love in relationships." "

"Different amounts of love are manifested in different areas of the love triangle: the greater the amount of love, the greater the area of ​​the triangle", i.e. "different balances of the three loves are manifested in different shapes of the triangle" (Sternberg R.J. and Sternberg K., 2008, page 57).

Three elements of love: the love triangle

When the elements of a healthy romantic relationship are listed, intimacy, passion, and commitment always come to mind (, n.d.).
Psychologist Robert Sternberg's theory describes the types of love based on three elements:
Intimacy: In this stage there is a desire to promote the well-being of the loved one, a high level of respect, trust and mutual understanding for the loved one. The more of these qualities are experienced, the higher the level of intimacy. In addition, it is characterized by “caring, sharing secrets, support, trust, honesty and understanding in love relationships” (Sternberg R.J. and Sternberg K., 2008, p. 54).

Passion: It is a state of intense desire to connect with another person, which refers to something that evokes romance and is characterized by romantic attraction, excitement, extreme desire, interest and sexual activity. (Beebe S.A., Beebe S.J. and Raymond M.V., 2014, p. 326). According to Robert Sternberg and Karin Sternberg (2008), "Passion is the 'hottest' part of a relationship" (p. 54).

Commitment: Characterized by loyalty, devotion, putting the other person first and needing the other person. It refers to the decision to maintain love for another person, in other words, it is a person's decision to love another person and want to keep that love (Scott F. Madey & Lindsey Rodgers, 2009). This is what keeps a relationship like a marriage going, even in hard times. Those who are strongly committed to their relationships are more likely to survive difficult times. (Beebe SA, Beebe S.J. and Raymond M.V., 2014, p. 326) and (Sternberg R.J. and Sternberg K., 2008, p. 54-55).

These three components of love interact, meaning that as intimacy increases, so does passion or commitment. None of this is possible without being other-oriented (not understanding or considering your romantic partner's values ​​can negatively affect the relationship). According to Robert Sternberg and Karin Sternberg (2008), “all three elements are important components of a love relationship and may have varying importance from relationship to relationship or over time. In a given relationship, different kinds of love may limit the instances of different combinations of ingredients” (p. 55).

stages of love

Love is based on the three elements discussed above, and it is important to know that a relationship based on one element or ingredient is less likely to last than a relationship based on two or more. Different combinations of these elements (intimacy, passion and commitment) can be used to explain different stages and types of love. According to Robert Sternberg and Karin Sternberg (2008), "These three elements or components, taken together, form eight possible borderline cases that produce different kinds of love, and no relationship can be a pure opportunity for any of them" (p. 55 ).

These are different types of love that we see almost every day, in movies, at work, and even in relationships with our partners or other people. As a relationship develops, it develops to a higher degree or level of love, for example, as a friendship develops between a boy and a girl, it develops into infatuation or romantic love. The balance between these three dimensions can change as the relationship develops (, n.d.).

1. Lack of love - According to the picture above, which refers to the lack of all three elements, these are the types of relationships that exist between strangers. In this kind of love, there is little scope for self-talk, according to Communication Privacy Management (CPM) theory, which states that "people manage their degree of privacy through personal boundaries and information sharing policies" (Beebe S.A., Beebe S.J., & Raymond M.V., 2014 ., p. 275).

2. Liking or friendship - has only one element and that is closeness. This is a relationship that exists between friends and co-workers and there may be little or no disclosure of personal information due to possible separation due to graduation from high school or college and moving to another state which could disrupt the relationship.

3. Love in love - "is the result of experiencing passion without another
Element. this is usually not true because it is “mainly based on
the existence of a relationship, not the reality of that relationship" (Sternberg R.J. and Sternberg K., p. 56).

4. Empty Love – This is "a relationship that requires long-term commitment but not love" (F.H. Galvan, R. Collins, D.E. Kanouse, M.A. Burnam, SM Paddock, R. Beckman, & Mitchell, SR, 2004). This often leads to abuse because there is no more intimacy and passion for each other and the relationship does not last long. According to predictive outcome value theory (predicting the value of a relationship based on self-concept against the potential costs and benefits of the relationship" (Beebe S.A., Beebe S.J. & Raymond M.V., 2014, p. 260). No more passion and intimacy, and he or she will probably leave the relationship because it won't last long.

5. Romantic love – This is a combination of intimacy and passion that sometimes occurs in heterosexual friendships. Say you like a girl, talk to her as you become friends, become friends with her (familiarity), can't stop thinking about her, develop a passion for her, and when she agrees to go out with you, introduce romance. It is common in teenagers and young adults. Romantic lovers are physically and emotionally connected through passionate excitement (, n.d.).

6. Accompanying love - results from a combination of the components of intimacy and commitment to love. It usually starts with passion, but fades over time, leaving intimacy and commitment behind. It is the type of relationship that exists between married couples.

7. Infatuation - This is the type of love that exists among most celebrities. this is a kind of love
"Two people meet, fall in love quickly, and are ready for a committed relationship before they meet," which usually ends in separation (Sternberg R.J. & Sternberg K., 2008, p. 56). It is a combination of passion and dedication.

8. Perfect love – It is a combination of all three ingredients. It is the complete form of love that many aspire to, but few achieve. As quoted by, "Sternberg believes that perfect love is harder to maintain than to achieve," since it can become a companion if passion is lost over time (, n.d.).

Robert Sternberg's love triangle theory relies heavily on self-discovery. According to Highered.Mcgraw-hill (n.d), "Self-disclosure is closely related to interpersonal relationships, which are the basis of almost all relationships." it's always revealing information that makes the other person want to be in a relationship, and that information is revealed when you're doing normal activities like telling jokes, watching TV, or socializing. In an intimate relationship, the amount of time you spend with your partner determines the amount of personal information that will be revealed and the potential for relationship development.

This is common in marriages because each partner reveals some personal information. At this stage, social learning theory comes into play - "people can learn behaviors that help them adapt and adjust their behavior towards others" (Beebe S.A., Beebe S.J. and Raymond M.V., 2014, p. 41). With some information about each other, partners in love adjust their behavior toward each other so that there is less bickering and more understanding of Thomas Lewis's famous saying: "Who we are and who we will become is determined in part by whom we love." confessions, partners will not recognize each other, which will lead to falling in love, and eventually to a breakup.


Beebe SA, Beebe SJ and Raymond MV (2014). Interpersonal communication:connected with others.St. Mark's, Texas: Pearson Education, Inc. Źródło 24 brand 2014 r

Galvan, FH, Collins, R., Kanouse, DE, Burnam, MA, Paddock, SM, Beckman, R., &Mitchell, S.R. (December 2004). Abuse in intimate relationships with people living with HIV.AIDS and behavior, 8(4), 441-51. Retrieved March 26, 2014, from Proquest: doi:

Elevated.McGraw Hill. (date unknown). Theory of Privacy Management in Communication Sandra Petronio. Retrieved March 26, 2014, from Highered.mcgraw-hill:

Hofstra University. (date unknown). love triangle theory.Retrieved March 25, 2014, from

Lewis, T. (datiran). quotes: General theory of love.Retrieved March 24, 2014, from Goodreads:

Madey S. and Rodgers L. (2009). The influence of attachment and Sternberg's love triangle theory on relationship satisfaction: A study of individual differences.Retrieved March 26, 2014, from EBSCOHOST:

Sternberg RJ and Sternberg K. (2008). the nature of hatred. 32 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013-2473, USA: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved March 25, 2014, from IvyTech Community College Library


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