Researchers (Hatfield & Rapson, 1995) have broken up love into two main types:
- Passionate love which involves continuously thinking about the loved one and also involves warm sexual feelings and powerful emotional reactions.
- Companionate love is having trusting and tender feelings for someone who is close to you.
Now one of the best known theories of love (which means an educated guess that isn't proven fact) is Robert Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love.
The three components of the Triangular Theory of Love are:
Passion, the feeling physically aroused and attracted to someone.
Passion is what makes you feel "in love" and is the feeling most associated with love. It also rises quickly and strongly influences and biases your judgment.
Intimacy, the feeling close and connected to someone (developed through sharing and very good communications over time).
Intimacy is what makes you want to share and offer emotional and material support to each other.
Commitment, pledging to your self and each other to strengthen the feelings of love and to actively maintain the relationship.
Commitment is what makes you want to be serious, have a serious relationship and promise to be there for the other person if things get tough.
Now Sternberg also uses his Triangular Theory of Love to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about love:
Is there love at first sight?
This is when we are overwhelmed by passion, without any intimacy or commitment (both of which take time). Sternberg calls this infatuated love, Because there is not intimacy or commitment, infatuated love is fated to fade away.
Why do some people get married after being in love for a very short time?
This is a combination of passion and commitment, but without any intimacy. Sternberg calls this Hollywood love. This is where two people make a commitment to each other based on their passion. Unless intimacy develops over time, this relationship most likely will end.
Can their be love without sex?
Ah yes, companionate love, where intimacy and commitment are present without any sexual passion.
Why doesn't romantic love last?
Passion and intimacy without commitment is Romantic love. When the passion fades, and the intimacy wanes, the relationship ends.
This a close friend sent me e-mail:
Infatuation vs. Love
Infatuation is instant desire - one set of glands calling to another.
Love is friendship that has caught fire. It takes root and grows, one day at a time.
Infatuation is marked by a feeling of insecurity. You are excited and eager, but not genuinely happy. There are nagging doubts, unanswered questions, little bits and pieces about your beloved that you would just as soon not examine too closely. It might spoil the dream.
Love is the quiet understanding and mature acceptance of imperfection. It is real. It gives you strength and grows beyond you - to bolster your beloved. You are warmed by their presence, even when they are away. Miles do not separate you. You have so many wonderful little films in your head that you keep replaying. But near or far, you know they are yours, and you can wait.
Infatuation says, "We must get married right away. I can't risk losing them."
Love says, "Be patient. Don't panic. Plan your future with confidence."
Infatuation has an element of sexual excitement. Whenever you are together, you hope it will end in intimacy.
Love is not based on sex. It is the maturation of friendship, which makes sex so much sweeter. You must be friends before you can be lovers.
Infatuation lacks confidence. When they're away, you wonder if they're cheating. Sometimes, you check.
Love means trust. You are calm, secure and unthreatened. They feel your trust, and it makes them even more trustworthy.
Infatuation might lead you to do things you will regret, but love never steers you in the wrong direction.
Love is an upper. It makes you feel whole. It completes the circle. It fills the empty space in your heart. Love is elevating. It lifts you up. It makes you look up. It makes you think up. It makes you a better person than you were before. If you have love in your life, it can make up for a great many things you don't have. If there is no love in your life, whatever else there is has a lot less meaning.
The secret of our being is not only to live but to have something to live for.