It takes a lot to make love work. When we talk about romantic relationships, we might find a lot of factors that are important and might determine whether it is meant to become lasting, fulfilling, and satisfying for the couple. These factors include respect, communication, attraction, and so on. However, American psychologist Sternberg outlined three core elements that a lasting love is built on. His theory is known as the triangular theory of love, and its three core elements are passion, intimacy, and commitment. Let’s examine these pillars of love.
The first one is passion
Passion can be associated with attraction. The first element of a lasting love is romantic attraction to your partner. Passion might be linked with physical desire, attraction, and, overall, excitement and desire over being with this specific person. This might be seen as the “emotional” element of love.
The second one is intimacy
Intimacy is the element of closeness and attachment that the partners develop to each other. It involves sharing personal information, being open and vulnerable with each other, and having a great degree of trust. Intimacy, by itself, without passion, might characterize a friendship rather than a romantic relationship.
The third element is commitment
Commitment involves the decision to stick with the partner and to define the relationship in certain terms. Commitment might be viewed as the choice to keep up the relationship and put an effort into making it work.
These elements are the three pillars that hold up a long-lasting relationship.
The way these pillars are shaped might vary between couples. For example, some couples are committed to each other and attracted to each other, but maintain an open relationship. Their commitment to each other is different than that of a couple who are exclusive. A person who might feel romantically passionate about their partner without engaging in physical activity, for example. The most important thing is to ensure that the level of passion, commitment, and intimacy that exist between the partners are satisfying for both of them.
There are some relationships that might stand on just one of these legs or two of them. For example, a relationship that involves just commitment might be that of two spouses who remain married but are not close to each other nor attracted to each other. A no-strings-attached one-night stand might be the expression of passion.
What Sternberg calls consummate love requires all three of these pillars to be maintained, and it’s up to the partners to strengthen each of them. When problems appear in a relationship, it becomes easier to identify which pillar they relate to and what might be done to improve them.
To work on passion means to renew the emotions of excitement, fun associated with the partner. To work on commitment means to make the conscious choice to remain with the partner and take steps to change the circumstances. To work on intimacy means sharing more with the partner, trusting them, balance between partner, and learning more about them too.
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