How to Make Love Work According to Robert J. Sternberg
Although triangles rarely bring happiness in emotional matters, according to Robert J. Sternberg, to make love work, it’s essential that this figure exists. In fact, its three sides are actually symbolized by three types of processes that you, as a couple must take care of and work on every day. Only in this way will the relationship be satisfactory and allow you to face challenges in an intelligent way.
Lope de Vega used to say that the root of all passion is love. However, one thing we all know is that love alone isn’t enough to make a relationship work, nor is passion. Indeed, more ingredients are needed for a successful relationship. Nevertheless, the true alchemy of happiness often involves elements that you don’t always master.
One of the leading experts in this field is Yale University professor and former APA (American Psychology Association) president, Robert J. Sternberg. In addition to his great contributions to the field of intelligence and creativity, his works on love stand out, above all the others.
In his books, Triangle of Love and Love is a Story, he reminds us of how many things there are still to learn about this complex discipline. What’s more, something that Dr. Sternberg reveals is that, although there are many ways to love, only one truly reverts to being human. Let’s take a closer look.
“Passion is the fastest to develop, and the fastest to fade. Intimacy develops more slowly, and commitment more gradually still.”
-Robert J. Sternberg-
How to make love work according to Robert J. Sternberg
According to Robert J. Sternberg, to make love work, you need a triangle. Furthermore, the bigger the triangle, the better. However… what does this Yale professor mean when he talks about a “triangle”?
As a matter of fact, the triangle is, for him, the figure of three components that can make love work, be enriching, and help the couple grow. Here are the three elements:
Intimacy, your safe space
Intimacy constitutes a private setting between two people where feelings flow and complicities travel comfortably from one to another
This first component is nurtured, above all, by a genuine interest in each other, where you give each other emotional support, understanding, and have a constant need to share your thoughts, desires, and concerns, with your partner.
The commitment, the agreement made between the two of you
Sternberg, claims that it’s essential for there to be a commitment between the couple. This dimension doesn’t refer to a signed agreement, but it does refer to an emotional one.
A commitment means you give yourself freely to your partner, fulfilling a pact of affection. It’s an agreement you have that means you’re able to live in harmony, respecting each other, without falling into the trap of betrayal and deceit.
Therefore, you should understand that, that far from what you’ve probably been led to believe, love does have conditions, and these are integrated into your commitment to each other. Among those conditions are, not hurting each other, being honest, practicing reciprocity, taking care of each other, etc…
Passion, the fuel that nourishes you to make love work
A life without passion isn’t a life. Furthermore, love, in order to be stimulating, requires that daily spark with which to ignite your relationship.
This feeling should completely illuminate your life as a couple. However, it doesn’t only involve the sexual element. In fact, passion is what inspires you, it’s what makes you want to do things with each other, and to continue sharing your moments together.
The importance of taking care of the shape of your triangle
Robert J. Sternberg claims you need a large equilateral triangle. However, why is this?
What he means is that happy and fulfilling relationships need all three components to be cared for equally. The components of passion, commitment, and intimacy. If you neglect commitment, the other two factors will decline. In the same way, if you neglect intimacy, the other two dimensions will probably weaken.
One more aspect that Dr. Sternberg emphasizes is the need to attend to all these ingredients on a day-to-day basis. Because love, according to him, is a story that must be written and rewritten at every moment. Indeed, you write your chapters together and make the best of novels, one in which you’re both the main characters and the authors. You’re two people who love both themselves and each other and who actively contribute to the construction of your relationship. It’s a good thing to bear in mind.
“What you do in your daily life affects your triangle of love. Do you listen to your partner? Do you seek to make your partner happy every day? Do you pay close attention to your partner’s needs? You can make your love triangle better or worse through your actions on a daily basis.”
-Robert J. Sternberg-