It appears my last post stirred up some disagreement. To get to the point I was making in that post, today I’m going to step back and discuss the different types of love in a relationship. I didn’t invent this stuff, it comes from a study published in the Psychological Review by Robert J Sternberg from Yale University called A Triangular Theory of Love.
The Triangle of Love
There are three components that form a triangle.
Intimacy (the top of the triangle), passion (the left hand side of the triangle) and decision/commitment (the right hand side of the triangle. Each of these terms can be used in many different ways so let’s define them.
► Intimacy refers to feeling close, connected and bonded in a loving relationship.
► Passion refers to romance, physical attraction and sexual consummation.
► Commitment is a decision to love someone and maintain love over the long term. This is a cognitive (mental) choice we make with our intelligence rather than our feelings.
The Trinity of Bliss
There are many different combinations of these factors that only involve one or two components:
- intimacy = liking
- passion = infatuation
- commitment = empty love
- intimacy + passion = romantic love
- intimacy + commitment = companion love
- passion + commitment = fatuous love
Consummate love includes all three. Many people are happy with companion love (without passion), romantic love (without commitment) or fatuous love (without intimacy). But the kind of love I want is the consummate kind. I like to call it the Trinity of Bliss.
It’s out of your control
One has some degree of control over the feelings of intimacy one experiences, a high degree of control over the commitment of the decision/commitment component that one invests in the relationship but very little control over the amount of the passion component one experiences as a result of being with or even looking at another person. — Sternberg, 1986, p120 (my emphasis)
In order to experience consummate love in a relationship, we have to find a way to have intimacy, commitment and passion. As passion is something we have very little control over – how do we do it? It all comes down to the object of your desire, which in this case is your partner. Therefore, for your sexual attraction to increase, the object of your desire needs to do things differently.
When I said you can’t fix it, I was being provocative on purpose. I didn’t mean it couldn’t be fixed, I meant that if passion is waning (if you’re otherwise physically and psychologically healthy) and you want it back, then something needs to happen with the object of your desire. You can’t fix it without his cooperation.
If you want to be unable to keep your hands off him (which isn’t what everyone wants), then you can influence him, guide him and ask him to change things up. I’m guessing if more passion (sexual intimacy) is your goal, he might be a little bit interested in giving it a try. I know some things about re-igniting passion and I’ll share them with you next time.