Passion + Intimacy + Commitment = Consummate Love

Love is complicated, arising in many forms.

Passion, intimacy, and commitment are the three pillars of couple-love, says psychologist, Robert Sternberg in his “triangular theory.” We may love based on intimacy, passion, or commitment, or any combination of the three.

We may also experience different aspects of love at different stages of a relationship, and move in and out of various types of love over time. Let’s take a look at a few possibilities.

Passionate love

Early love is marked by the infatuation of “passion.” Giddy, and intense with longing, the lovebirds feel the heart-thumping arousal of the yearning heart. Can’t eat, can’t sleep. (Why let sleep come between you and the “high” that attaches to thoughts of your beloved?)

These are turbulent times, marked by ecstasy and fulfillment when loved is returned; but sadness and despair when it is not.


Love may also emerge as intimacy, marked by warmth, closeness and connectedness. Each partner wants to give and receive emotional support and share their innermost thoughts and experiences.

If the couple feels intimate, but lacks passion, the relationship is more of a liking/friendship sort than romantic love.


Sometimes partners commit to stay together and maintain love and relationship through thick and thin. But this love is more compassionate than passionate.

When a couple is committed but lack passion and intimacy, their relationship may be stagnant, lacking the emotional involvement and attraction they once had. When nothing but duty keeps them together, this is “empty love.”

But in places where marriages are arranged a couple might start with nothing but commitment, yet over time become intimate or passionate, or both. So sometimes “empty love” can be the beginning rather than the end.

Consummate love: intimacy + passion + commitment

These different sorts of love may arise in various combinations. Romantic love can be full of passion and intimacy yet lack commitment. Companionate love can involve intimacy and commitment but lack passion. Or perhaps a couple experiences passion and commitment, yet still lack deep intimacy.

When all three pillars of love combine into the perfect blend of intimacy, passion, and commitment, “consummate love” arises in what many feel is the best of all worlds.

Few couples who have been together for a long time will experience consummate love every moment. Most often the feeling waxes and wanes. And most couples experience different forms of loving styles throughout long-term relationships.

It could also be that different styles of love are a better fit for different couples, depending upon where they are, and want to be, in life and love.

Regardless of where you are, couples are best matched when they desire similar levels of each sort of love.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on February 13, 2012, in men, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 86 Comments.

  1. This post did a nice job breaking down the differences between the different combinations of love. I enjoyed reading it because I like to hear about others view on love since it is truly very different to everyone. I agree with other comments made that love is a pretty complex feeling. It stood out to me when it was mentioned that it isn’t necessarily the end of love but maybe the beginning when you start a relationship with nothing but commitment. The “empty love” stage can be a place for growth or the end of a relationship. All three elements passion, intimacy, and commitment should be present in a relationship and should be aimed for at all times in my opinion.

  2. I liked so much this page and all comments

  3. I do believe that these are the ingredients to a successful relationship or marriage without any of them it would be dead love. There has to be one of these to form some kind of chemistry between two people. Passion and intimacy have been more of a thing than commitment. Passion becomes more of a starter to a relationship that’s where the chemistry begins with two people. Intimacy is where both parties become more comfortable with one another and become closer. Commitment is always a problem with or without a title on the relationship because most men don’t want to feel trap or feel like they have a duty to be with just one girl. It’s rare when a woman feels this way but it also happens to us girls. Most long term or short-term relationships do tend to lack or loose one of these three along the way. It is nice to see couples stay together and keep their love alive I know one couple who still like to go out on dates and buys flowers to their spouse its refreshing to see that still happen.

  4. I disagree with the idea presented in this article that love is comprised of a combination
    of intimacy, passion, and/or commitment. I believe love is much more complex and multifaceted than varying intensities of three words. It is impossible to know what makes other people love each other and extremely clear when you love another that it is not as simple as passion, intimacy, and commitment. There was a point made about how strong commitment can be in certain relationships. I agree that commitment without passion and intimacy will result in a less full love although definitely not empty. Sometimes the commitment to stay together through thick and thin is the toughest part and thus the part of love that makes love so strong. I enjoyed how the blog post described love without commitment as a type of love that can be a beginning to more love rather than an end to love.

    • I don’t think the researcher meant it in the simplistic way that you are taking it. The point is that different relationships seem to be marked by different combinations of the three qualities he mentions — even if they might be March way much more than these three — and that the most satisfying relationships contain all three.

      I’m curious if you can think of a relationship that isn’t marked by at least one of these 3 qualities?

  5. Three pillars make me think of the lady’s love that I know for a long time. When I first time met her, I thought she was so stubborn and selfish. But, later, I know about her more and my thoughts turned out as she is an adorable, caring and very responsive lady. In fact, she is a single mom, well educated, having three kids. She married because of her mother’s arrangement as a family rescue plan. She tried to commit to the ten years older husband with intimacy and passion. She found out all these fails. Her husband messed with the housemaid/s when she was in her postnatal period despite she tried utmost of her ability. She tried to maintain the family with all these three pillars but still fail. Finally, her family was broken and she raised three children singly. I do not know what is lacking? If somebody knows, please feel free to advise.

  6. Marietta Snowden

    Consummate Love is a well balanced, well rounded love affair. When two lovers commit to the intimacy and passion that shared between them love is fantastic. But the problem is that most couples don’t allow themselves to explore or evolve into this kind of love. Instead they settle for turning on the intimacy in their relationship and make its core about sex or security. In doing so they fail big time and dismiss the opportunity to seek out the major jewel of love or the entire ball of wax. Taking the time to explore all phases of love can lead you to real love if given the time and focus. Consummate Love is love in its entirety. Love that allows one to fall while not being afraid that they might not be caught in time before hitting the ground. To exposure oneself to your sanificate other could means standing naked with all your flaws present yet comfortable doing so like a flawless high price diamond. Actually that’s what true love is, a very precious jewel that can stand up to the pressures of the life. A partner in the fight to take on all the other elements of this world.

  7. Though I have never been in a serious relationship before, I have been in situations where I can compare these traits with. I have been in relationships where there was passion but it highly lacked in commitment and intimacy. I’ve also been in relationships where there was commitment but lack in intimacy and passion. I think having a serious relationship can become difficult without each of the three. Wth out a balance of each of the three traits of consummate love, I do not think that it is considered love. There is a possibility of attaining these traits over time with a partner, but if both partners are not attempting to work out the relationship, it will not work out. After reading this it somewhat sounds difficult to truly have consummate love, but I am sure that there is someone for everyone who is willing to put in the same effort as the other to make the relationship work.

  8. I found myself agreeing a lot with this particular post.  Passion, intimacy and commitment are VITAL to any serious and lasting relationship.  Passion allows for that feeling of ecstasy or deep sadness that comes with a very passionate love.  I think this feelings helps us stay in tune with our own feelings.  Without intimacy, a relationship would quickly scale down to a friendship because there is no physical connection which is also necessary for a healthy relationship.  Lastly, it’s a no brainer that commitment is the base and foundation of any real relationship.  Unless it has been previously established that commitment isn’t necessary, I see people having a hard time maintaining a strong relationship without setting those boundaries first.  In a perfect world, every relationship would have the three but I, myself, know this isn’t how it always goes.  I have been in a committed relationship for the past two years and initially that passion was definitely there.  I remember always wanting to be with my significant other and always feeling happy. I was so inundated with happiness that I had no other concerns with other important aspects of a relationship.  It was not until a first argument that it became clear that having a mutual understanding and commitment are very important to have a well rounded relationship.  

  9. I think the article makes a lot of sense when analyzing love. I think it is easy to see this when comparing high school relationships and adult relationships. In high school relationships, passion and intimacy are present, but commitment is not always possible when one is young and has their whole life ahead of them. It is hard to have a sense of commitment when one does not know where there will life will take them. After reading this article I started to understand my own failed relationship. I was in a relationship that had passion, commitment, and intimacy for about a year and then the passion waned. We were left with commitment and intimacy and desperately tried to make it work, but it is hard to continue a relationship based on those two things because we were young and still wanted romance in our lives. After reading this article, I could see clearly that lack of passion was the reason our relationship failed and hindsight is always 20/20.

  10. The most interesting form of love would be fatuous love. I understand the rest of the combinations of love and have had experience of each form, but fatuous is the one that I have not understood. The example that the instructor provided to describe fatuous love is when a couple gets married very quickly. The combination that forms this love is commitment and passion. I can never understand how people can jump into a relationship that fast, but I have seen others who have done so. I guess another example that I can recall that relates to this form of love is the Bachelor and Bachelorette shows. Those contestants go to the show, display their value and love to the bachelor/bachelorette and fight each other to win the heart of the bachelor/bachelorette. In reality, the time frame of their adventures is 3 months long. To decide that you want to spend the rest of your life with someone whom you only known for 3 months is ridiculous. The ratio of successful marriages is unsurprisingly low, but that doesn’t stop producers of the show to stop filming. Viewers are still attracted to the show, possibly because they too think that this fatuous form of love is odd and just as curious is I am to understand it further.

  11. Lesley Miranda

    I’ve always loved this triangle and enjoy relating it to my own relationship. I remember showing my boyfriend the triangle and explaining how two different ones, have a different effect. I remember we both explained which we feel in that stage we were in at the moment. It was actually kind of interesting as we answered differently. I thought that was cool, because although we were in the same relationship we both had different view points of how we were showing our love for one another in that time period. Being in this relationship for 3+ years now, I can absolutely say that periodically the triangle is constantly changing. Being in a long distance relationship, I am sure causes much of that.

    I can’t help but think that our generation has too much of passion. Many times I find that people really rather stay in the passion area rather than getting to know someone or spend more time with them. Passion is beautiful, but I think that when many of us can’t get out of passion or mix it up with intimacy or commitment, we end up feeling worthless. I think that much of our generation is stuck on passion because of the media that is out right now. Love songs, love movies, and not enough “The Notebook” movies. I think much of my generation is caught up in trying to find that “high” and keep it forever, but as those of us who have been in relationships know, it does fade away, and it takes work to bring the passion make once you have intimacy and commitment in the relationship.

  12. I have always been a strong believer of levels in love. Unfortunately, I was always somehow stuck in one of them, usually the first level. The passionate love stage, the high, as the writer called it. However, I also believe that intimate love is at a peak at this stage rather than coming after, at least in my cases. Currently, I’m in a relationship that has been dying. All because the high and the intimacy came at different times for me and my significant other. No matter however way we tried to approach it, we seem to miss the point. Over and over. So, reading this article has truly helped me identify the issue. And realize that we just need to communicate our feelings better. One of us is stuck with a case of “empty love” while the other is trying to sandwich all those types of love together to create this idea of love injected to all of us by the media. I realize that the media really screwed us over on that one, showing women what they should be looking for, and men what to offer, when they’re both close to impossible standards. I hope that more people read articles such as this one and realize where they stand in their relationship and whether it should move forward.

  13. Carolyn Oliver

    I not only enjoyed reading your article but can relate. Finally I can put a mathematical equation to my feelings, which may in turn help me communicate to my husband. We have been together for nearly 30 years now and I feel we are in the Companionate Love (Intimacy + Commitment) stage of our relationship. “At the other end of the drama scale to romantic love is companionate love. When combined, commitment and intimacy make powerful emotional bonds, meaning that the companionate connection is stronger than simple friendship. However, the lack of passion means that this is often quite a chaste, comfortable arrangement – the sort of thing that might happen after years of familiarity. According to Sternberg, this isn’t a death knell for love – in fact, this mellow phase is a common part of relationship progression”. Wanting to know more about this theory, I found the article to explain further Sternberg’s Theory which tells us we can combine any of the 3 to create 7 types of relationships. My fear is without the romantic aspect, we could be headed for disaster. Need more research as to get that fire rekindled again. I’m a sucker for passionate love, that’s how he attracted me in the first place.

  14. Katherine Cortez

    Thanks for this blog. Now I read it it takes me back to my previous relationship, I am able to compare to the one I am part of now. My previous relationship was back in High School and I was dating the most popular football player of the team (this wasn’t the reason why I liked him so much). For the longest time, he had been trying his very best to win me over, until I finally gave him the chance. By this time, I was the one who wanted to feel loved, appreciated, respected. But my ex partner wasn’t feeling that flame he once felt, this was an example of “empty love” as described in the article. Toward the end of our relationship I felt like I was begging him to love me, accept me for who I was, and respect me. Our relationship lacked of commitment and honesty.
    In comparison to my current relationship, I feel the luckiest girl in the world, to not only be respected and accepted for who I am, but also appreciated, supported, and elevated by my partner. Our relationship is fulfilled with commitment, yet it doesn’t feel forced. It is also composed of passion and intimacy. I wish this kind of love for everyone!

  15. I agree with this blog.
    Passion is the original attraction, and intimacy makes couple keep in touch, commitment give them responsibilities and obligations. I think passion is a very difficult thing to maintain, it will disappear when people have more and more knowledge of each other, and daily life in pieces always kill the mystique and curiousness. Our appetite discovery slows as our familiarity with the status quo grows.
    However, commitment will help us to maintain the passion, it can help the feeling of love become longer.
    I also agree with ” Regardless of where you are, couples are best matched when they desire similar levels of each sort of love.” Birds of a feather of lock together and people by groups.

  16. This is a dope article now it all makes sense how relationships should work.

  17. I also agree with the “triangular theory” I feel like in order for a relationship to work it needs to have a strong backbone in order to succeed. I have known people who I have know and have been my friends before they started dating and have met everything in the triangular theory and are now engaged. It is very interesting to think of all the factors that can make a relationship work out so well.

  18. Donovan Perez

    I totally agree with the “triangular theory”. I also believe that a strong bond of love combines all three aspects in order to have a strong form of love. Most relationships in my generation don’t last very long because commitment is hard for a younger group of people. It is very difficult to define love as well; however, the triangular theory is a great way to view components of strong love. Honestly, if i read this article while I was in a relationship it could’ve helped me strengthen my relationship with my significant other. Love is so hard to find and define which makes it such a remarkable topic to discuss. To add on I also believe that everyone in life deserves to love and to feel loved. This reading will help me in my future relationship because it really questions what you are lacking if you are not locked into the relationship.

  19. Sabrina Gill

    Reading the part of “empty love” totally reminds me of my parents, who had an arranged marriage and over the years developed intimacy with each other but seeing them together since 24 years, I feel empty love can be a beginning but not in most relationships.

    My parents didn’t have the same thing that two people in a relationship have, when they are passionate rather than intimate. There’s something really big missing because of which till today they don’t get along together and taught me that there is no such thing as love.

    Them, seeing my boyfriend and I gets them so confused because they don’t understand what passion is. They feel it is all lust and there’s no such thing as love.

  20. To paraphrase Dr. Drew Pinsky, some women, heterosexually speaking because that’s all I know, have broken “PIC”-ers. That is to say the the desire for and perhaps the feelings of Passion and Intimacy” are there and might be shared by their partner, but I think Intimacy and Commitment are the hardest to gain for the holy trinity in a relationship. Many guys are heavy into passion and not so much the other two. And when the passion fades, it becomes another “C” for guys–Control. The for some women, I think, comes from when in addition to seeking total PIC, they choose guys as “projects”. “He’s got a lot of problems but if I stay with him, letting him know I won’t walk out on him like all the others, he’ll grow to trust and love me and, with my lover and persistent hard work, I’ll turn him into the wonderful guy I know is under there and we’ll be happily married forever.” I’ve known a few women like that. I like I might have been my wife’s project but somehow she was able to work her magic. But I may be the exception to the rule, and I still believe I’m a work in progress.

    • Thanks for your thoughts on this. I can relate to pretty much everything you said. And I know that I have definitely done the project thing. Basically the guy is so great – all except this one thing – then he’d be perfect. So yeah, my husband would be an example of that. And I would say that he is growing.

  21. I agree with this article, to truly make a relationship work there should be a balance of intimacy, passion and commitment. Sadly we live in an society where relationships often tend to fail throughout a short period of time because we lack significant balance either of the three aspects that are required when you truly love someone and want to built a strong and healthy relationship with that person. I often feel like we confuse being in love with someone when in reality it’s lust. This could possibly a relationship greatly based on intimacy, and later fail to commit because they lack passion. Therefor we most learn that it is significant to built up a good foundation within our relationships and trust ourselves and our partner to love and commit to each other intimately and passionately.

  22. This has some great insight about relationships, I believe that my girlfriend and I are on the right track so far. We have been together for about a year and a half and we hit all three pillars. She is basically my best friend and she helps me get through tough days and turns them into better days. It is to early to say but I do feel like I can spend my life with her. We have our bad days, however, we are able to sit down and be mature and sensitive about each others feelings. We are very committed to eachother and try to spice up our relationship from time to time, so our passion doesn’t run out. Although, I don’t believe it will. We are by no means the perfect couple but we like to act like it. I believe that we can keep these three pillars, and be happy, our relationship will continue to grow.

  23. I was not aware that there were three pillars of love to know the relationship is going the right way. I found this article very interesting, because I always want to know what more I can do in my relationship to keep it healthy and last. I have been in a long term relationship for 2 years and about to be 26, so we are very serious. I am very relieved that me and my boyfriend meet all the pillars. We have always decide to be honest with each other and that communication is key to any relationship, so we make sure we talk and discuss every thing and I do believe it has made us a very strung couple, because it shows we can get through anything and that we trust each other. And still after 2 years we still have so much passion and intimacy towards each other, it makes me feel good that we are perfect for each other and that we will keep at these three pillars to help us through our whole relationship.

  24. This was nice to read because it finally put words to what I was feeling in my marriage. I am happily married, but some days feel better than others. It was comforting to read that other couples feel the “waxes and wanes” in their relationships too. None of my friends are married and my parents are no longer together, so it’s rare that I get to hear information on long term relationships that aren’t silly advice columns. Marriage is work, but I am grateful to be in a relationship that has solid pillars of passion, intimacy, and commitment. I have been in other relationships that lacked one (or two) pillars and it never could have worked. I find it very interesting from a psychological stand point that they were able to narrow the needs of couple love down to three pillars. I agree with the triangular theory and look forward to my further personal research.

  25. This article made me realize where i fit exactly. Love to me is still a mysterious subject. I never get tired of reading about it, and every time i do it feels like the first time. It makes you wonder if it is possible that you fall in love with your partner everyday. The concept love itself calms my soul when things aren’t smooth. I mean like “who am I to conquer love”? It just gets painful when you see someone who loves someone badly and not get love in return. They stay there hoping things will change.
    Let me stop with the painful stuff.
    Even if you fell in love 10 years back, the three words your partner say to you still makes you smile. The moments spent still makes you smile. I wonder if divorced couples still wanna go back to the spouse that put a smile on their faces before love got bitter.
    I cherish love, I’m just not sure if I can really show it but my heart sings it. The kind of love that gets you down on your knees, makes you cry all night long, gives you sleepless nights when things go wrong is the kind of love I respect. We all know that things can’t always be running smoothly. But it’s funny how love dovies forgive each other and live lime yesterday was great. It’s all about love. Maybe Consummate love or the Selfless love.

  26. “Passion + Intimacy + Commitment = Consummate Love,” This really gives me more sense of love, what is love? Love is inclusiveness rather than indulgence; Love is caring instead of favor; Love is blending rather than unrequited love;Love is subway and not all sweet;True love is not necessarily the perfect match in the eyes of others, but fit each other’s’s quiet dedication for letting each other life better. True love is a kind of concern and care from the heart, there are no gorgeous words, there is no act of grandstanding, you can only feel bit by bit in words and deeds.

  27. First time I knew the concept “Triangular theory” was on my psychology class. That is a theory of love developed by psychologist Robert Sternberg. In the context of interpersonal relationships, “the three components of love, according to the triangular theory, are an intimacy component, a passion component, and a decision/commitment component. As I read the article, I felt it was quite interesting when we knew there were several stages of love. However, the time length of different stages may differ from couples. I believe that from time to time, if the couple didn’t get into the new or next stage, the emotion and impulse will slow down. Therefore, maybe it is difficult for some of the couples to reach comsummative love.

  28. When you think of the different stages of love, you really don’t think about the underlying of it all. What brings about the need for intimacy? Why do you need it to keep a relationship going? This article really opened my own eyes to why it is so important to really open your heart to someone and not just parts of it. When you let people into your life and into your heart, you leave it there and can’t close it or your relationship can suffer. In my relationship, we’ve been together for over 4 years and every time I see him I feel these butterflies in my stomach and get so excited to just hold him. I have never let myself feel this way for anyone ever before and it has been the best experience I’ve ever had. We have become so open with each other and tell each other absolutely everything without holding anything back. It seems to good to be true but even in our downs, I still feel like I’m living in a fairy tale.

  29. This was an interesting article. I feel that I knew these different stages to love, but I just did not know the names for them. I am currently seeing this guy and right now I think I am at the passionate phase, because I feel like I am experiencing this high whenever I hear from him and I never want it to end. The feeling is instantaneous, it comes and goes based on how we are communicating, which leads me to believe that I am just infatuated. Maybe that is the same thing, I am not sure. I hope that it develops into something more later down the road, like consummate love, because I need to get off this high and learn to depend on myself for my own happiness.

  30. When I read the “Passion + Intimacy + Commitment = Consummate Love,” I strongly agree wth this article, and I think about the relationship between me and my boyfriend. We have been stay together for a long time, at least 3years and we are studying together in the US. He and I depend on each other, and we always do things together. In the beginning, we had a passionate love. We want to meet each other every time, and we talk and text on the phone. Moreover, the time he played game was less than staying with me. However, his passion is less after a year. Yes, after lack of passion, our relationship feel like more a like or friendship as what article mentioned. As this article, if couples want to complete the consummate love, their need come up with three things as passion, intimacy, and commitment for perfecting love to lovebirds.

  31. I love these type of articles ! I have to agree with this article that in a relationship it is important to have passion, intimacy and commitment. I currently am in what you could consider a long-term relationship. In order to make it work out of coarse communication takes a big role in a long-term relationship but that doesn’t do the justice. Passion, intimacy and commitment are the major keys to a healthy and lasting relationship. If you or your partner feel no sort of strong meaningful passion from one another then there could be a fix to that but usually ends up in a break up. Intimacy can be tricky, because not everybody is very affectionate with others even if they claim to be in love with this specific person. I do believe that everybody has different ways of expressing their love to that special someone and most people don’t realize that. Intimacy can be a simply kiss or a simply hug to someone but to their partner it could be the complete opposite. Commitment I would say has different meanings in others relationships. To me it is having mad respect for your partner and showing your true love and care for this person because I am sure no body would show commitment to something they find unworthy and a waist of time or without seeing a future. Commitment is simple and isn’t for everybody! Therefore, in my perspective all three factors can be apart of a relationship but demonstrated differently.

  32. I have to agree with you that in a relationship you need passion intimacy and commitment. I have had relationship that did not work out because I was committed but I was not passionate with that person. There has been a relationship that I have had all three feelings which would have to best you can feel with a person that was the best relationship I have had with someone. There is no point in being in relationships with people if there is no connection between one another.

  33. I eat “more” and sleep “better”, because I love my girlfriend.
    Companionate love sounds familiar to me, as I don’t feel much passion towards my girlfriend.
    I feel so comfortable with her that I don’t feel nervous or become sleepless. But I’m passionate enough to wish myself to be with her forever. Yes, I have commitment! At the same time, I have great intimacy towards my girlfriend. Although we have different personality and hobbies, I feel huge connection between us. I feel satisfied with our relationship.

  34. I love this two sentences:
    1. When all three pillars of love combine into the perfect blend of intimacy, passion, and commitment, “consummate love” arises in what many feel is the best of all worlds.

    2. Regardless of where you are, couples are best matched when they desire similar levels of each sort of love.

  35. I like this article it’s interesting and useful. I did not know a lot about intimacy, passion and commitment. When I am in a relationship I am always passionate, I always feel passion. I don’t want to eat, I feel sleepless and can’t stop thinking of my boyfriend. What I always luck when I am in a relationship is commitment. I found it very hard to commit to one person, it’s maybe because I feel like I am still young and there are still a lot of people to meet or because I have not yet found someone whom I felt unconditionally love me. I always look for intimacy before we become couples. I always choose intimacy as the first step because we learn to know each other, our likes and dislikes and our characters. I think intimacy is the key to a relationship. It allows you to know about the person you’re in love with, and helps you avoid heart breaking. So you won’t say I did not know you’re (dirty, selfish, mean) that.

  36. I found this post very intriguing and useful since I have recently met someone and we are trying to make things work. We have been ‘dating’ for almost 3 months but have only reached the first level of the triangle. For the past week I have become impatient since I was ready to move onto level 3, but reading this article made me realize that it takes time, patience, and communication to build a long lasting relationship. I am trying to find a balance to where we both meet a mutual level of understanding in our relationship. Thank you for providing an insight, I think more often than so people forget that relationships and love in general take a lot of work.

  37. I agree with the contents of this article. Particularly in the three pillars of passion, intimacy and commitment being what stabilizes a healthy relationship. I am 21 years-old and what I’ve noticed in my generation, along with those before me, is that we are almost unaware that it takes many components to build a stable relationship. Speaking from my experiences, as well as the ones of my friends, many relationships nowadays are strained in the sense that they are not achieving all three pillars of stability but rely on intimacy and commitment. The idea of empty love comes into play here, some couples in this predicament elect to stay together in the hopes that passion will eventually present itself. But I believe that there is a common misconception nowadays that if you accomplish 2/3 of the pillars then the third should come naturally, without effort. Passion, like other pillars, requires care and effort in order to last in a healthy relationship and is not always attained instantaneously. Though sometimes it does, often times couples are pressured to pretend they are happy together in order to wait for an outcome that may never come to pass.

  38. This was an interesting gem to find here that I found via the related posts. A few days ago I read over Sternburg’s theory on love via Wikipedia. Although, I’ll admit that it didn’t do an overly great job of explaining it – but this post right here does a swell job of explaining it. I sought out Sternburg’s theory so that I could I analyze where I was in my own particular relationship and what I was actually seeking. After looking at your explanation and talking it over with my spouse – We both determined that we both match the levels and types of love that we individually seek. However, our approach to determining this was fairly interesting as I opted to have my spouse read the article alone and then we both wrote in chronological order the types of love that we have gone through at different phases since the start of our relationship. Interesting enough, we both had nearly identical answers and it filled me with a sense of joy that we both were mature enough to reflect our relationship on our own.

  39. I found this article very compelling. Myself and my partner have experienced the triangle describes in the text. We have also experienced a combination, in particular commitment and passion without intimacy. To consider the passion that I feel for my partner, the hot, fiery, sticky, wet and all those things inappropriate to put up on social media. Commitment which is the longevity and intimacy which is the deathless. All areas are required. However, my black queen is much more than this and I think culture, communication and the makings of a man are additional features which can’t be overlooked. The three areas are the skeleton but we as individuals, couple have to add the meat to take our relationships to a much stronger and more fulfilling place.

    I didn’t consider the theory behind all of this and I think it is useful information to know. Great article. Interested to know more.

  40. It is very interesting article. The relationship with romantic and intimacy but lack of commitment didn’t really work for me. At first I thought I can do it and it’s a relationship without obligation , but really find it hard to accept when the other doesn’t reply my mail and not putting the same commitment in. I grow up in Asia and it is extremely important about the commitment part. More often in Asia there’s relationship of commitment and passion but with very little intimacy or not at all. After all, if he/she doesn’t seem want to commit, or get annoyed if u commit too much, what kind of love is that?

  41. There are various kinds of love, so it’s difficult to say which is best love or not. But I think the love only depend on passion is dangerous. I’ve heard love at first sight is romantic, but often leads to disappointment. Passion is the quickest to develop, but the quickest to fade. I think love with intimacy and commitment is much better than the love only with passion.

  42. I agree that these are key to a good relationship. My husband and i have been together for many years and we have had different combinations of these throughout our relationship. At times we are in different places than the other person, but try to communicate this and return to sharing the same or balancing it to make it all work. I would say that communication is another big key to keeping a relationship working. I know that I have struggled with communicating, and once past that and on the same level/expectations as the other person in the relationship it leads to a lot better commitment, intimacy and even passion. I would say there are other important parts to relationships and different things are more important to each individual relationship. But i think to have a good solid long lasting one, that you need all three of these things plus communication.

  43. Jasmine Lopez Torres

    I really love this post because of how relatable it is to me. Even though I have not lived many years on this earth (i’m 19), I have had my share of relationships in which there’s been a leverage of being intimate with my partner, passionate and committed. I have done some pretty messed up things (like cheating and lying) to my previous partners which is something that i’m proud of, of course but having all these three combined, didn’t result in consummate love. I had a boyfriend who was so lovey dovey that got me annoyed so fast. He was also committed and it made me feel like I was going to be stuck with him for the rest of my life which also got me a little scared. Also, his level of intimacy was so exaggerating that it made me want to disassociate myself from all sorts of physical contact with me.He ended up cheating on me, I forgave him and things were not the same anymore. It turned into a very abusive and draining relationship. Love is so confusing and it’s so spontaneous on all sorts of levels! I loved this article because I do have to agree that there needs to be some sort of equalness between intimacy, commitment, and passion. I feel that as long as it feels real then that’s what should be the most important.

  44. I really enjoyed this article and was aware of the different levels of love. Love for me has been so complicated. I have been in a relationship for 5 years now. When I first met this guy we were in passionate love. We stayed on the phone from 10:00pm until 6am the next day for months. I didn’t want to do anything but talk to him even if we both didn’t talk after some hours. Just sit and listen to each other breath. As time passed so did the passionate love. The 3rd year into our relationship we moved on to another level of love which is the intimacy level. This level is where we both just can’t move from. He’s not caring about my feelings and vice versa. We have been on this level for two years now and I have became overwhelmed and heartless, because of how he treats me and his never ending verbal abuse. I don’t think I want to move forward with this relationship. On the same level for two years who in their right mind would want to work things out when you have tried over and over again with the same results. I am relieved by expressing my feelings to the world. Something I been carrying for year. Now I am free to move on without him. Again thank you for this article. It made me really look and understand the relationship I’m in.

  45. This article help me to understand a subject I was discussing at work with coworkers. We were taking about true love or if it was love at first sight existed. One of my coworkers stated you love people differently over time and another said no it’s when you find that one person who is always going to be there, feel connected to and stick situation out with. I do feel love is frustrating and comes in various ways/ forms. Also that not everyone love the same ways. One of my coworkers is in the passionate stage this an new relationship and they are still love birds, however the other is married and has been from some till without any passion. Myself I would like a love that is empty so it could grow over time and become passionate with intimacy then commitment.

  46. My mom’s marriage was arranged when she was in Africa and my dad was out in America. When my mom was approached by my grandfather about the proposal from my dad’s family she was accepting a commitment to a lifelong partnership to a man she didn’t know (African people frown upon divorce) and she was moving thousands of miles away from home. The way my mom tells it to us it was hard living with him and dealing with him but over time, she soon grew to love him.

  47. I totally agree with this article, it is so true that a relationship can only be long lasting and happy if they have the three elements and they are passionate, intimacy and commitment. Even though some people say a relationship should base on the feeling you got towards another person, I think if two people do not have commitment or intimacy, the bond between them will be very weak. To me, commitment is very important to a stable and long lasting relationship because it is like a promise to one another. But if you only have commitment but without passionate and intimacy, the relationship will be very dull and not close at all. Therefore, the combination of passionate, intimacy and commitment can help to build a healthy relationship.

  48. This article help clarify some of the experiences I have had. It is hard to put your finger on something when you don’t know how to define it. This article gave me some structure on which I can define where I stand in a relationship. It also gave me information so that when I am in a particular period I can be reassured that it isn’t the end, only a period in time and we can all survive that!

  49. I struggle with the idea that an ultimately fulfilling relationship requires passion, because passion is by nature fleeting. Passionate romantic feelings are produced by physiological responses that almost always have an expiration date. I always thought that if passion was necessary for a satisfying relationship, then we could only hope for serial monogamy at best. Not lasting, happy relationships.

    Am I missing something?

  50. Currently being in a relationship I found this incredibly interesting. I could not help but compare it to my relationship and try to see different aspects of it in these separate categories. I also liked how it explained each type of love and tried to understand each of them as well as I could. I did however struggle a bit on understanding commitment alone, is it really still considered love? I tried to think of an example in my life where I have seen something like this and the only thing I can think of are my parents. They are the perfect example of commitment alone or as it says above empty love. Their sole purpose for being together is to raise their children and nothing else. So that is why it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around seeing commitment alone as being a type of love.

    • “commitment alone, is it really still considered love?”

      I guess it depends. Sometimes you probably don’t have love even if you have a commitment.

      But some couples have personalities that are very practical. They aren’t really passionate or really intimate and yet they love each other on some level.

  51. I thought this was a great read. I feel like relationships definitely need all three of these characteristics if they are going to last. While commitment is of obvious importance to a relationship, I think when I was younger, I didn’t understand how important sex could be to a relationship, but it really is. Lacking intimacy in a relationship is sort of like missing a pinky toe– things get really unbalanced. Having a partner that is also your best friend is one of the greatest gifts life has to offer.

  52. I really enjoyed this article! I think that this is really good information to be aware of and realize that “Love” and relationships shouldn’t be a “duty”. That is unhealthy and unfulfilling, you may care for someone very much, but if you feel as though you are restraining yourself from experiancing other meaningful love. I feel people get caught up in this alot. Quite often staying together for the kids becomes a theme in todays society, well if you are unhappy maybe it’s time to rethink this choice.

  53. After being married for over 20 years and 5 children, I can tell you that love includes all of those components and each of them come and go, however a strong, loving relationship filled with passion, desire, respect, laughter and excitement is developed through strong relationship with God, communication and lots of love making. I think that two people who love each other can become bored with each other unless you two are talking about what you need. Consummate love: intimacy + passion + commitment these can be obtained if both are wiling to work for it and work hard. Intimacy is very important and it is just not sexual, it can be a wife getting home from work after a hard day and she does not need to say a word, her husband already knows and he takes care of her, whether that be run a bath or cook dinner. And there are times when a wife should know that although she may not be in the mood, her man needs some love and attention. e must give and take the reward is priceless! Life is too short to let the person you love go a day not knowing that you adore them and are over the top attracted to them. This was a great topic!

  54. What’s interesting is that most of the time, these three components don’t appear at the same time. Often times, passion precedes the other two. Intimacy comes from passion, and commitment comes from intimacy (and moral obligation). Since these three things don’t come together into a relationship at the same time, the balance of the relationship is, as Sandra said, “always changing.” That is, perhaps, why there are so many stages in the process of a relationship. By the time your relationship gets to the stage of marriage, you can only hope it’s not a lopsided triangle.

  55. Relationships are not a recipe and even though many relationships are more healthy than others, the stage of love changes. Meaning that not always two people are at the same stage but if they are both understanding of each others needs this moments are more often for them than the other groups who are not connected at this levels. The cense of carrying and respect are always there but the levels of love change. I am not saying that some times we don’t feel love for this person but feel more in love than usual and connected with the other person at different times.

  56. Casey D-Miller

    This article was interesting because it helped give me a new perspective on my relationships. I think the most important aspect of the article was saying that relationships are best when both people want to achieve the same levels of the different loves. Being on the same page about where a relationship is going and how much it means to each person is equivalent to communication, which is a key aspect to any healthy relationship.

  57. Dominique Dillon

    After reading about the three pillars of love, I have acquired new in depth knowledge of the different stages of love in a relationship. Previous to reading this article, I lacked any knowledge of psychologist Robert Sternberg’s triangular theory of love. It makes perfect sense that when you combine passion in addition to intimacy and commitment they equal consummate love. Consummate love is ideal for people in relationships to strive to work towards because this form of love is complete with all three important components of love. I want to definitely work towards consummate love in my relationship. And I think I can also achieve consummate love if I work on one of the components of love that is currently lacking in my relationship. I really do appreciate you sharing this article with everyone because this article has provided insight that I might not have ever learned.

  58. This reminds me of the movie the graduate, when after they get so consumed with passion they run away together in the end and their smiles start to fade away, such is passion, or so I’ve been told and read. The sad part about passion for somebody is when it’s not reciprocated and one feels that she/he was the one true love. Or when someone starts to “warm up” in a relationship and then the other person ends it because she/he was not happy in it. It can have a feeling like something important to you dying. Well something that is important, like the future of what could have been getting darker. And this person that is in a passionate stage doesn’t want to let that idea die so they hold onto it for far longer than is probably healthy.
    Cheating on someone comes from being unhappy in the relationship and not getting what one needs out of it. So it’s strange if you ask people if they would rather have their partner cheat on them or be unhappy in the relationship, it’s the same thing that probably gets different answers.

  59. I personally take all three pillars in high consideration when thinking about engaging in a relationship. However, each pillar weighs differently. I am a very affectionate and loving person so intimacy and passion are extremely important and act as a foundation for my long term relationships. I can still feel these feelings and fill these positions of love without actual verbal or legal commitment. From personal experience I have found that when I share passionate love with another, everything else falls into place in terms of mutual feelings and commitment. However, intimacy often jumpstarts and increases the feelings of passion and from then on feelings expand. This more than likely leads to commitment in which I generally accomplish having an abundance of all thre types of love. I have actually only had this success only once and although the feelings are not completely the same, that relationship taught me that having it is more than possible to be able to share a mutual respect of these three types of love.

  60. I love that this article ended with “regardless of where you are, couples are best matched when they desire similar levels of each sort of love.” Everyone is different, everyone has different needs and that statement put an umbrella over all the “untraditional” kind of loves out there and legitimized them as well. Love is complicated and there is no perfect formula for all couples. For myself, I know I need my partner to be my best friend; they need to make me laugh, be willing to explore the world with me, and support me. Sex is also very important to me; it’s a place where you both become vulnerable, united, and focus on instant gratification.

  61. Love seems so much more complicated when it is all written down in words and analyzed like this. This was an interesting article though. It is hard to imagine that you can ever find someone that will perfectly fit each and every expectation their is to love as you. I guess you just have to give a little and work at it if you really want a relationship to work and be sucessful.

  62. Marquel Benton

    This topic is very interesting and a very serious one. I feel that those 3 components about love and relationship is so critical because people don’t really know the meaning of a relationship they think its all about sex and the way a person looks but its way deeper than that. Love is long lasting, its ongoing, just because your lover gets hurt or loose a leg its not right to divorce or break up with them. Love is more than that and when a person say “I love you” that’s a strong word that should not be taken for granted. When you are in love with someone that should be the priority and its a really strong commitment that you are giving. I agree with Liliya, if humans could love one another there wouldn’t be any racism, backstabbing, etc. Love is really a great thing that should be more emphasized today.

  63. I know that when I first heard of these three tiers of love that I felt a little relieved. I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for over five years and I know that our love had morphed into something that is different than what it was when we first met. You see passionate love in movies and books, where two people are so enthralled with one another that they cannot think of anything else, and I felt that with my boyfriend for the first couple of years, but slowly our relationship changed into something more of a friendship love, we know each other inside and out, but the passion wasn’t always there. I was around all of my friends who are just starting to date new people and they cant seem to be apart from their new flames, and I really missed what my boyfriend and I first had, I thought it went away. What really happened was that it transformed into something that I consider more important, our intimate love and compassionate love had taken the place of some of the passionate love. I realized that although we had lost some of the beginning excitement of start of our relationship, we ended up with something real. I want everyone to know that love does change and that doesn’t mean that it turns into anything “boring” or that it has “lost its spark”, it just means that it has matured and that it can last.

  64. I found this article to be quite intriguing, maybe because my boyfriend and I just had a fight prior (hahaha). I think that the 3 levels of love, all of the depth and layers in the levels are very conclusive as to why love is such a complicated topic. Passionate love is almost like a first love, the butterflies in the stomach what to wear, how will he react to me. When you put more into the relationship because you feel you will get the same out when in reality they might not feel as passionately as you do. Passionate Love says to me ‘High School Relationship’ or ‘My First Kiss’ but now a days its ‘Damn, I love you so much lets have sex cause that is the way we show our love’.. Intimacy, my soul mate, who I am destined to be with. The connection two people feel to be honest and opened and not feel ashamed. Two peas in a pod, ‘My missing puzzle piece’, intimacy is hard to find, and even harder to maintain, from past relationships I’ve seen crumble, its the coals that keeps the fiery passion burning. Commitment, the ten letter word and both parties in the relationship have to do there fair share. Its an even word so the commitment level should be equal on both parts to make it work. To place trust in someone to always be there but love them in all there aspects, and have the compassion to accept their faults. Commitment is the bond that keeps two people together, the bond that makes I into we and we becomes a team. Consummate Love is a love that is deep, almost unreal. A love that take the words “Till death due us part” to reality. This is the love I envy and I hope one day I do find, and I hope many do find. Love is a tricky subject is all aspects, positive and negative.

  65. I always knew there was a formula sort of explanation on love. I know that my boyfriend and I have all three components so far. I also think that communication is the biggest part of a relationship/ love because it lets us, the lovers, to be truthful, caring and committed. I also think that love is not something that should be forced and should come naturally, but then again arranged marriages sometimes work with the forcing of loving and being loved. I guess I believe in the whole butterflies in the stomach feeling because in my past experiences I knew that if I did not have those butterflies the relationship or feelings would not last. Love is great and can be the answer to all the worlds problems. If humans could only love one another there would not be racism, hatred, and backstabbing. The love triangle is great.

  66. This article was very interesting I didn’t know there were so many levels to building a successful relationship. I feel like if you are truly in love with someone, sex shouldn’t be the main focus and there should be more to the relationship that only makes it stronger and worthwhile. In order to show love, means a relationship should have trust, commitment, passion, and intimacy. But, in order to give your heart to someone doesn’t mean that it’s for a short amount of time, it should last and only grow. Whichever level the couples are on, all depends on how they want their relationship to end up. The couples end up having a successful relationship when both individuals are in the same pace while building the blocks to a sturdy well-built relationship.

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