Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Theory of Love

Psychologist Robert Sternberg wrote the Triangular Theory of Love and within it states:

In the triangular theory of love, love is characterized by three elements: intimacy, passion and commitment. Each of these elements can be present in a relationship, producing the following combinations:

  • Liking or friendship (intimacy)

  • Infatuation or limerence (passion)

  • Empty love (commitment)

  • Romantic love (intimacy+passion)

  • Companionate love (intimacy+commitment)

  • Fatuous love (passion+commitment)

  • Consummate love (intimacy+passion+commitment)

How can a person define love when there are so many different combinations that qualify in each its own? Take for instance the love of a child. This is an unconditional love that cannot be compared to anything else. To take a sick child into your arms and holding them safe from the horrible illness that has partaken of them, knowing that this is the only place for them to feel safe and secure, proves that love is a viable thing. Although, this love isn't the same as a romantic love, the intentions held within are comparable.

Dr. Sternberg shows that intimacy can also come in different forms of love, from friendship to romantic to consummate love. An example would be, I love my ex-wife. At one time I would say we had a consummate love. We had the intimacy, the passion and the commitment that was undeniable. As time went on after our break up, our consummate love changed to the love of a friend. The intimacy is still there but it overshadows what we had when we said those vows. Love can change as time passes. But does time change love?

When you enter a love relationship that first moment becomes one of friendship. You meet, hang out, court. You look into the person's eyes and there is a connection. You talk, you touch. You feel a fluttering in your heart. A pain enters your stomach and you feel queasy. Then comes the time where you move on to the next step. The infatuation becomes like a disease. You feel you have to have it. Then time moves on and you go beyond the infatuation. You start to notice the feelings become more. They become solid. You feel these feelings to your core. Your heart aches when the other person is not there. The love becomes as if it is one on both sides. You have built it up, both of you. Adding the romance and the passion. You look into one another's eyes and you know this is it. A proposal is made. You both accept. You marry, have children and grow old together. You consummate the relationship. Sometimes you stay together forever. Sometimes, love fades away

Some people shy away from love. They believe it to be a folly, a discernment in the eyes of G-d. G-d gave us love as a gift. A gift of feelings and emotions that can be transferred from one person to the next. Some people have been burned by love. They are left jilted and jaded. People abuse love. One of life's most precious resources and we still abuse it. We take people, steal their heart and then walk all over it. Before we know it, love will be gone like so many other resources.

"'How despicably have I acted!' she cried -- 'I, who have prided myself on my discernment,-- I, who have valued myself on my abilities, who have often disdained the generous candor of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameless distrust. How humiliating is this discovery! Yet how just a humiliation! Had I been in love I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away where either was concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself. " Pride and Prejudice By Jane Austen.

Love blinds us. Like Ms. Austen showed us in Pride and Prejudice, love will make us do silly things. Sometimes we forget our senses. We forget judgment. We allow ourselves to believe so much in the passion, the intimacy, the romance that it clouds the rest of us. Other times the love is so perfect that we are able to become one with our partner. In the story of her life, she loved and lost her love. She never loved again. He married and named his eldest daughter, Jane, after the one he loved and lost.

Love found me and I let it go. My heart still loves but it is less trusting than it used to be. I have found that the love of a friend can be more endearing than the intimate, romantic love. You can still have the romance and the intimacy without the consummation. I have that. And it is enough.

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