There are 6 types of Love (but 5 won’t last)
According to Sternbergs Triangular Theory, there are 6 distinct types of love (plus friendship). Each type of love is characterized by a combination of 3 variables – Intimacy, Passion and Commitment. The infographic below gives you a rough idea of how it all works. Note – the strongest type of love is in the middle. Consummate Love is only experienced when intimacy, passion and commitment are all present. The other types have only 1 or 2 of these components, which makes them far less stable and prone to fading.
In this article we will focus on one of the most common types of love – Infatuation.
When we are infatuated with someone we experience extremely high levels of Arousal. We are physically drawn to the person and often find it hard to stop thinking about them. In fact, we experience such a chemical high that some studies have shown infatuation to be addictive.
Author Jon Elster believes that infatuation can be more addictive than amphetamines. Since our infatuation chemicals are released based on our thoughts and beliefs, they fluctuate much more rapidly that the chemicals of drug users. While drug users experience the gradual onset of a come-down (as their drugs wear off), infatuated people come-down much more rapidly. Elster states, ‘the euphoria and dysphoria (highs and lows) can arise virtually instantly.’ This roller-coaster of emotions is known as limerence.
Limerence has many of the same characteristics as addiction. Apart from the chemical fluctuations, it increases impulsivity, alters decision making and dismisses the importance of long-term consequences. Essentially, even if we know that the person is ‘bad for us’, the chemical balances in our brain makes us continue to want to see them. This might offer some explanation for the recent proliferation of the ‘hook-up’ culture. Once we experience the blinding chemical highs of infatuation, it is hard to go back to the steady, gradual satisfaction that is built through commitment and intimacy.
Ultimately, the chemical high’s of infatuation don’t last. While they usually fizzle out around 6-8 months, they have been shown to stick around for up to 3 years. In any case, when they do wear off, the lack of intimacy and commitment is likely to eventually bring our relationships undone.
So what can we take from all of this?
Enjoy the highs of infatuation, but be mindful of the importance of intimacy and commitment. There are 3 components of consummate love and each is as important as the other.
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