3 Keys to a Successful Relationship

3 Keys to a Successful Relationship

Have you ever heard of the Sternberg Triangle? Not to be confused with the Bermuda Triangle (although when it comes to matters of the heart, it might as well)


The Sternberg ‘triangular theory of love’ is a theory of love that was developed by psychologist, Robert Sternberg www.famouspsychologists.org/robert-sternberg/  He felt that the amount of love someone feels for their partner is based on three things. These three things include: Intimacy, passion, and commitment, and that you need at least two of the three components in order for any relationship to survive.

He also felt that the amount of love one feels for their partner depends on the strength of the components that you do have.

Interesting theory, huh?

I agree with it 100%.

Think about it…if you have passion without commitment – (Well, there goes that one. Won’t get you very far. You’ll have fun, but that’s all it will be. Can anyone say mistress?)

If you have commitment without passion or intimacy – (You’ll have yourself one very solid partner, but you might have a roving eye due to the lack of attraction.)

If you have intimacy without commitment or passion – (Sounds to me like more of a very close friendship.)

Sternberg noted that there were six types of love.

I find that so funny considering there are 5 gazillion songs written about one emotion that has six choices.



This is characterized when intimacy is present. This is the set of feelings one experiences without the intense feeling of passion or commitment in the romantic sense. This can, however, be a good stage for the other forms of love to manifest. (Sometimes– however, I think if you don’t feel chemistry early on, it’s probably not going to develop.)

Infatuated Love:

It is called infatuation when passion is present and both intimacy and commitment are absent. Crushes fall under this category. People with nothing but a sexual relationship with each other also fit into this category, as they are only bonded by carnal desires and nothing more. This is the most common root of romantic love because it’s believed that intimacy develops over time. But if neither intimacy nor commitment develop, sizzle can turn into fizzle real fast. (Sorta like soda)

Empty Love:

An example of this is an unhappy marriage, where the intimacy with the spouse is gone and the flames of passion have already been put out a long time ago; nothing is left but the contract of marriage itself. Empty love is described by the absence of passion and intimacy despite the presence of commitment. A strong love may deteriorate into empty love. (So sad, but we all know many of these couples.)

Romantic Love:

This form of love is a combination between intimacy and passion. Lovers who are under this category are said to not only be drawn and bonded physically, but emotionally as well. This is one of the most common stepping-stones to a married life. In this kind of relationship, it lacks the commitment, so it’s a little bit easier to end it when both of the parties involved have had enough of it without all the legal issues to deal with. Nonetheless-it can be just as painful as a divorce.

Companionate Love:

It is characterized by the combination of intimacy and commitment, and the absence of passion. This is stronger than the friendship form because of the element of commitment. Companionate love is observed in long-term marriages, where you don’t exactly need the passion in order to stay in love with your partner because the affection has remained. It can also be observed among family members and close friends who have a platonic but strong friendship.

Fatuous Love:

A very good example of a fatuous love is Kim Kardashian’s marriage to Kris Humphries, only to divorce him 72 days later. It’s the type of whirlwind romances that end up on our television sets. Fatuous love is just that. This type of love is the combination of commitment and passion without intimacy. With my example of Kim and Kris’s wedding, their marriage was not enforced by intimacy. Plus they got married so soon, and publicly as well, that might have been a contributing factor to the end of their short-lived married life.

 Consummate Love:

This type of love sits at the very center of the triangle because this is said to be the perfect and ideal type of love. All three components are present in this type of love. According to Sternberg, these couples will continue to have a great sex life twenty years or more into the relationship, they cannot imagine themselves happier over the long-term with anyone else, they overcome their difficulties gracefully, and each are proud of the relationship with one other. However, Sternberg himself cautions that maintaining this relationship is harder than achieving it. And this is not a permanent form of love. (When you find this type of love, buy a pet unicorn, purchase a lottery ticket and go to lunch with your friend the leprechaun because this is very RARE.)

Sternberg had stressed the importance of communication in any kind of love. “Without communication “even the greatest love can die.”

I agree with Sternberg on communication but I think commitment is actually as important as communication–if not even more. Everyone needs to know that if they get sick or hurt and need help—that their partner is in it for the long haul. Not just for the good times.

I do believe love is the source of everything. It’s also the hardest thing to find, maintain, perfect and keep. If you have been lucky enough to find it — try your best not to lose it.



Until Next week,



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