What do you think are the ingredients of a successful relationship? Is it love at first sight ? Or are common interests and friendship more important ? Or is it, in the end, commitment to the relationship that matters most ?
According to Psychologist Robert Sternberg, there are three (3) ingredients in flourishing loving relationship, namely :
1. Intimacy- sharing thoughts and feelings in a friendship without “any strings attached “. Just friendship.
2. Passion- having sexual interest and desire towards each other
3. Commitment- deciding to be with your partner and staying with him or her irrespective of any unpleasant. circumstances.
Robert Sternberg codified his concept as The Triangular Theory Of Love.
The interaction of the three components , intimacy, passion and commitment, produces six (6) types of love relationship:
1. Fatuous love in which there is passion and commitment without intimacy. A couple who commit to each other after a whirlwind romance might exhibit fatuous love. Problems are likely to arise, however, if friendship does not develop.
2. Romantic love occurs when there are intimacy and passion but no commitment. It is not the ideal relationship as it may fizzle out if commitment takes long to manifest. Some school or office romance may fall into this category.
3. Liking is emotional intimacy without either passion or commitment. Just a close friendship that onlookers often mistaken for romantic relationship.
4. Compassionate love combines liking with commitment but without passion. An elderly happily married couple may well experience compassionate love.
5. Empty means commitment without passion or intimacy. A young lady who hurriedly marries a wealthy man may be experiencing empty love. Or, an unhappy couple staying together just for the children would share empty love.
6. Consummate love is the ideal love that comprises intimacy, passion and commitment. This is the type of love that should result in marriage because it can withstand the stress of living together unlike the other types of love.
However, you should not give up on your relationship because it is not consummate love. Now that you are aware of the 3 components, you can work on improving your relationship. Learn to infuse any missing component deliberately. Neither should you rest on your laurels if you rate your current relationship as being one of consummate love. Good relationships need to be worked at.