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Love and Relationships Research Paper


Try to immerse yourself into the following scenario: you are a boy and you have been friends with a girl for the past 5 years. You know almost everything about her and she knows almost everything about you. Not a single day passes without the two of you talking and you start to believe that what you feel is love.

One day you go up to her and confess your feelings thinking that she must feel the same way about you since you have both been so close over the past 5 years. She accepts and the both of you start dating, however, she refuses any and all sexual advances and says that she wants to wait for marriage before having sex.

She says she loves you and you know you love her as well so you wait and wait even more till the point that she breaks up with you and a few months later you find that she had sex within the first month of being with her new boyfriend. Does this sound familiar to anything you have experienced so far within your life? The answer to that is most likely “yes” since many of us out there have mistaken feelings of love for friendship and have even thought that what we feel is reciprocal when in fact it was not.

The end result has always been a depressed state of affairs where one has not only lost the person that they have loved but the friend that they have cherished for so long. Many out there would state that what occurred between the two of them was a normal and healthy relationship, that a woman’s decision to wait is her right and should be respected by the man in the relationship if he respects her.

While this paper agrees with the notion that a man should respect the desire of a woman to wait, he should not automatically think that they are in a healthy relationship or that love truly exists between the two of them. It is based on this that this paper presents the assumption that a relationship without sex is one where true love does not exist.

Understanding Love

Researchers such as Bauermeister et al. (2011) explain that love is not unilateral (meaning that it is observed and acted upon by one individual) rather love is something that is bi-lateral (i.e. given and espoused between two people) or multi-lateral (between family members) (Bauermeister et al., 102).

Bauermeister et al. (2011) goes on to explain that love requires reciprocity, that it should be reflected and given back at you by the person that you love. However, what most people fail to realize is that love encompasses not only intimacy in the form of liking a person and having feelings for them but encompasses aspects related to passion and commitment as well.

If such conditions are not in place then what a person has is merely affection or at the worst of times obsession, however, it is not love. I believe the poet T.S. Eliot said it best when he stated in the poem The Love Song “Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl. And should I then presume? And how should I begin?” The poem in its essence is about a man, J. Alfred Prufrock that has spent his entire life hesitating to confess till the point that he actually never winds up doing so and dies.

He focused so much on presumption over the “what ifs” that he failed to notice the “what is”. In the case of relationships where a man says that he is willing to wait till marriage to have sex with a woman he ignores the present “what is” and focuses on the “what will be”. He believes that by respecting her that he is showing his love for her yet he neglects to think on the lack of passion in their relationship which is symbolized by sex.

He does not take into consideration that his own needs are not being met and he focuses on the presumption that things will work out in the end just like Prufrock in the poem. However, just like the man in the poem it does not, such a relationship is filled with frustration, doubt and continues on since what a person thought of as love has regressed into obsession with the future rather than loving someone at the present.

What Constitutes Love?

One of the best ways of understanding love is through the triangular theory of love by Robert Sternberg who states that love is a direct result of three distinct factors: intimacy, passion and commitment. Intimacy is related to the feelings of attachment that one person feels for another, this can encompass feelings which make them feel like they are close, connected and have a distinct bond with one another.

However, as Sternberg explains these feelings should not be mistaken for love since they are normally found in friendships (Shimp and Madden, 163-168). It is the presumption that the affection one feels for a friend is love that causes them to confuse love and friendly relationships. The end result is at times a relationship that does have intimacy but lacks passion and commitment resulting in an eventual breakup since what they have is not love at all.

The second factor in Sternberg’s triangular theory of love is passion. This aspect encompasses aspects related to sexual attraction at which point there is a certain degree of reciprocation resulting in sex (Shimp and Madden, 163-168). It is often times that those with “crushes” feel this particular type of love, however, it should be noted that this is not true love either since it lacks the closeness brought about by the intimacy factor and completely lacks the commitment aspect as well.

The end result is that infatuation usually disappears quickly over time due to the lack of any solid type of love. The last factor in the Sternberg triangular theory of love constitutes commitment which encompasses a decision to remain with another person (in the short and mid-term) and to incorporate them into plans and achievements in the long term (Lemieux and Hale, 1109).

A relationship that is completely composed of the “committed factor” is often seen in the case of arranged marriage where a form of “empty love” is present wherein there is no intimacy or passion, rather, what is present is merely the desire to be with the other person out of necessity or obligation.

For, Sternberg what constitutes true love is an incorporation of the aspects of intimacy, passion and commitment into what is known as consummate love (Diessner, Frost and Smith, 683-690). This is a “complete form of love” so to speak which symbolizes the ideal type of love that people should strive towards.

Sternberg even goes on to state that sex is one of the fundamental aspects of this form of love since it encapsulates the passion aspect that is necessary in order to make this type of love work (Diessner, Frost and Smith, 683-690). Without sex, there is no passion, there is no feeling of closeness and what they end up having is something close to companionate love which is what is found among family members or with a long term friend that you have a platonic relationship with.

Importance of Passion in a Relationship

So far it has been shown that there are different kinds of love yet the love that encompasses an actual relationship with another person needs a sexual element in order for it to be considered real love. Researchers such as Madey and Rodgers (2009) in their study involving infidelity has shown that one of the primary reasons why men cheat is due to a lack of passionate love in their relationship.

Madey and Rodgers (2009) explains that humans in general crave passion when they are in a relationship and this often takes the form of sex (Madey and Rodgers, 76-84). Without sex, a regression in love occurs where only aspects related to intimacy and commitment are present making the people more like long term friends rather than husband/wife or girlfriend/boyfriend (Madey and Rodgers, 76-84). Passion for Madey and Rodgers (2009) is a solidifying factor that helps to people feel connected beyond simple words and gestures.

It is an affirmation of love and is necessary in order to complete the triarchic theory of love which creates consummate love. A lack of passion in a relationship often causes men to seek it out from other sources resulting in what we know as infidelity. Love is not defined simply by affection; rather, it is distinctly influenced by action which requires passion and intimacy.

It is based on this that when looking at someone that says that true love exists between him and his girlfriend, despite the fact that she has stated that she wants to wait for marriage before having sex, is to look at someone that is lying to himself. A lack of passion in the form of sex in a relationship is an indicator that what a person has at best is companionate love or at worst a mere friendship.

To continue to mistake what they have as love is to delude one’s self into thinking that this is how love is suppose to work, that it is sacrificial and that you should be able to understand your partner’s wishes. The fact is though, that a lack of desire for sex from your partner is an indicator that there is no desire or passion in your relationship. Without such factors in place your relationship is doomed from its inception since you would be acting exactly like J. Alfred Prufrock.

Waiting for marriage before having sex is almost similar to the case of Prufrock since he keeps on waiting for the right opportunity to confess to the person he has feelings for. However, just like Prufrock, you wait and wait for your need for passion to be fulfilled till the point that it will never manifest itself since the person that you think you love simply does not have the same feelings you have for them.


Based on what this paper has shown so far, it can be stated that a relationship without sex is one where true love does not exist. Such a case is nothing more than a friendship since passion, intimacy and commitment is necessary for true love.

Works Cited

Bauermeister, JosE A.Johns, Michelle M.Pingel, EmilyEisenberg, AnnaSantana, Matt LeslieZimmerman, Marc. “Measuring Love: Sexual Minority Male Youths’ Ideal Romantic Characteristics.” Journal Of LGBT Issues In Counseling 5.2 (2011): 102. MasterFILE Premier. Web.

Diessner, Rhett, Nellie Frost, and Titus Smith. “Describing The Neoclassical Psyche Embedded In Sternberg’s Triangular Theory Of Love.” Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal 32.7 (2004): 683-690. Academic Search Premier. Web.

Lemieux, Robert, and Jerold L. Hale. “Cross-Sectional Analysis Of Intimacy, Passion, And Commitment: Testing The Assumptions Of The Triangular Theory Of Love.” Psychological Reports 90.3 (2002): 1109. Academic Search Premier. Web.

Madey, Scott F., and Lindsey Rodgers. “The Effect Of Attachment And Sternberg’s Triangular Theory Of Love On Relationship Satisfaction.” Individual Differences Research 7.2 (2009): 76-84. Academic Search Premier. Web.

Shimp, Terence A., and Thomas J. Madden. “Consumer-Object Relations: A Conceptual Framework Based Analogously On Sternberg’s Triangular Theory Of Love.” Advances In Consumer Research 15.1 (1988): 163-168. Business Source Premier. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2019, December 11). Love and Relationships. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/love-and-relationships/

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"Love and Relationships." IvyPanda, 11 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/love-and-relationships/.

1. IvyPanda. "Love and Relationships." December 11, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/love-and-relationships/.


IvyPanda. "Love and Relationships." December 11, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/love-and-relationships/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Love and Relationships." December 11, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/love-and-relationships/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Love and Relationships'. 11 December.

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