Triangular Theory of LOVE!

What is love? What is the difference between love and infatuation? I am pretty sure many of us want the answer. The Triangular theory of love can help us find it! And before you start, no it is not about the LOVE TRIANGLES you hear about.

The Triangular theory of love was given by a psychologist Robert Sternberg. Love is an emotion that is felt by all of us in many of its forms. Love is usually related with heart but in reality it is your brain giving out the chemical signals of what we interpret as Love. It is described as a fever that comes and goes independently of will. Well honestly? Everyone has his own definition of love. Lets not worry about that.


 Coming to the theory, there are three components of love.


Intimacy in common terms means closeness. A relation may involve emotional or physical intimacy. Emotional intimacy is a sort of closeness that allows sharing of personal feelings and thoughts. This leads to satisfaction of emotions or desires. Friendship also has varying degrees of intimacy.



The word for passion in Greek means to Suffer. It is a strong feeling about a person or a thing. You can be passionate about your profession, hobby or job as well! Passionate feelings for others is an intense emotion which gives you a feeling of “longing” or makes your heart race. This is the feeling most commonly described, butterflies in stomach and missing the heart beat. Sounds familiar right??



Commitment is sense of devotion and responsibility. It is when a person is willing to give his/her time and energy to someone he/she cares about. A person may also be committed to his studies or work too. Commitment in love is usually making future plans together and yes Marriage is its most pure form.

Varying degrees of these three decide how deeply a person is in love with someone.




 There are 6 types of love described by absence or presence of these three pillars. These forms include

  1. Non-love/liking:

It is used in a trivial sense. Intimate liking is found in true friendships. There is a feeling of bondedness and sharing.


  1. Infatuation:

This is the sort felt by many in form of *crushes*. Love at first sight is also included in this category unless it has some long term commitment effects. Infatuated love may disappear suddenly.


  1. Empty love:

This is most common in our culture of Arranged marriages where there is commitment but no intimacy or passion. Sometimes compassionate love may also convert into empty love after commitment for a longer time.


  1. Romantic love:

It includes physical and emotional intimacy with passionate feelings. This is the one usually portrayed in media.


  1. Compassionate love:

It is usually found in older relationships where care and commitment remains but passion is lost. It is also found in family members and keeps them together. Friendship may come in this zone if there is commitment of long term.


  1. Fatuous love:

It is found in passionate couples without the impact of intimacy.


CONSUMMATE LOVE is the ideal condition that everyone wants but is achieved by very few. Because with time even committed lovers begin to lose the passion.

Love effects our lives in many ways, even in the lives of people who claim they never fell in love. And of course there are variations from person to person based on their experiences. Some describe it as Magical and some say its just a waste of time and energy. Some people have what we can say in layman words as Love-phobia as well.


One of my favorite explanation of love is by Paulo Coelho,

“Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand  it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.”


So here were some forms of love. Do let us know if you find yours in the categories described above!

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Noor us Sabah Ahmed

Noor us Sabah Ahmed

An explorer of many realms but primarily a Medical student with ardent love for Literature!