According to Sternberg (1988), love can be conceptualized as consisting of three core components viz. intimacy, passion, and commitment. These three components form the famous love triangle. Intimacy is characterized by sentimental attachment between lovers. Passion, on the other hand, makes up the romantic and sexual drives, which boil down to the physical attraction between lovers. The third component of love, commitment, denotes the choice to dedicate one’s time and energy to care for a partner (Nevid & Rathus, 2013).
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Sternberg (1988) adds that the amount of love one feels depends on the strength of the above components. They can go together or separately to yield different love experiences. These love experiences may take the form of liking, infatuation, empty love, romantic love, companionate love, fatuous love, consummate love, or non-love (Sternberg, 1988). Liking is made up of intimacy only. Individuals who like each other only share a feeling of closeness. Infatuation, on the other hand, consists of passion only. Infatuated partners experience passionate arousal but lack intimacy and commitment. Empty love anchors exclusively on commitment, thus, it lacks the other two components while romantic love is a combination of the intimate and passionate components, but lacks commitment (Nevid & Rathus, 2013).
Besides, love passes as a companionate when only intimacy and commitment exist (Acker & Davis, 1992). It becomes fatuous when only passion and commitment exist, but when all the three components combine, they form consummate love (Acker & Davis, 1992). However, when all the three components of love are missing, a couple is said to be experiencing non-love (Sternberg, 1988).
Acker, M., & Davis, M. (1992). Intimacy, passion and commitment in adult romantic relationships: A test of the triangular theory of love. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 9(1), 21-50.
Nevid, J. S., & Rathus, S. A. (2013). Psychology and the challenges of life: Adjustment and growth (12th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Sternberg, R. J. (1988). The triangle of love: Intimacy, passion, commitment. New York, NY: Basic Books.