Robert Sternberg conceptualized love as a process, which implies that it changes throughout a person's life. His theory is often referred to as the Triangular Theory of Love with three interconnected components: intimacy, commitment, and passion. Because love is dynamic, the three components are not always in perfect balance. According to Sternberg:
- intimacy refers to loving relationships characterized by feelings of closeness, connectedness, and bondness.
- commitment is a decision to love someone else and a decision to maintain that love over time. It refers to love as a conscious act of will or deliberate choice.
- passion refers to the physical attraction and romantic feelings that initially draw us to another person.
Another theory of love that I find particularly salient is Lee's Six Types of Love Styles. John Alan Lee conceptualized love in a manner similar to the Greeks, who identified multiple words to differentiate types of love.
- Eros refers to a type of sensual or sexual love.
- Ludas refers to a love that is playful, flirtatious, carefree, and casual.
- Storge can be conceptualized as friendship love or a type of affectionate love between companions.
- Manic lovers experience very high highs, and very low lows and are typically associated with jealousy, protectiveness and exclusivity.
- Pragma refers to a love guided by logic and practicality.
- Agape is described as a selfless, enduring, other-centered type of love and is typically referred to as unconditional, willful love.
In general, I think many people fail to recognize the multidimensional and dynamic nature of love. People often have unrealistic expectations about love and therefore relationships. It seems that many people expect love to look a certain way and never change. However, these two theories of love support the notion that love is multidimensional and dynamic. These two theories of love, along with my own experiences, have profoundly influenced my "love paradigm" which profoundly influences my expectations of and interactions within the confines of a relationship. Reviewing these theories has facilitated my own reflection on past relationships and has allowed me to critically reflect on my expectations within the context of a relationship. It is my hope that others will consider (either accept or reject) these theories in relation to their own "theories" of love and reflect how your own theories of love influence your expectations of and interactions within relationships.