Love: If You Give It, You'll Receive It

Love: If You Give It, You'll Receive It

Last update: 26 August, 2016

If you give love, you’ll probably receive love back. Human beings tend to function as a sort of mirror when it comes to exchanges, even with emotions. On the other hand, we tend to be loyal to the principle of reciprocity, as shown in the phrase “today for you, tomorrow for me” or the saying “you owe me one.” In some way, we can owe not only money, but also actions and feelings.

To know a little bit more about love and giving and receiving it, I’d like to focus this article on the psychologist Robert Sternberg, whose triangular theory of love based on interpersonal relationships distinguishes three important components: passion, intimacy and commitment. Components that, following a geometric metaphor, occupy the vertices of this supposed triangle.

A little about Robert Sternberg

Robert Sternberg is a North American psychologist who was born in 1949. He has given classes at Yale University and has chaired the American Psychology Association, to which some of the best professionals in the specialty belong.

Sternberg has based his studies and investigations on human intelligence, wisdom, hate and, of course, love. 

couple legs

The triangular theory of love

Let’s focus now on the triangular theory based on Robert Sternberg’s investigations about this feeling. As we said previously, Sternberg focuses on three components within relationships: intimacy, passion and commitment.

  • Intimacy refers to a cluster of feelings capable of promoting closeness, connection and affection towards another person. That is to say, it is linked to the desire to give and share.
  • Passion is the state of intense desire for union with a loved one. It expresses needs for romanticism, sexuality ad even excitement.
  • Commitment is the intimate decision from each party in a relationship to keep the love alive, whether the situation is positive or not.
consummate love

Types of love according to Sternberg

If you give love, will you receive love? In the triangular theory of love, Robert Sternberg distinguishes between different types of love, which could also be considered stages or phases. Nevertheless, combinations of two or more stages can occur. So they are not exclusive among each other.

  • A lack of love implies that there is no commitment or intimacy.
  • Affection creates bonds and closeness, but it doesn’t imply passion or commitment.
  • Infatuation is a love at first sight that doesn’t include commitment or intimacy.
  • Empty love refers to a commitment to a union, but one which lacks passion and has nonexistent intimacy.
  • Romance supposes an emotional union which implies passion, but not necessarily commitment.
  • When you lack passion but you do have commitment and affection, that adds up to platonic love.
  • If commitment is motivated by passion, Sternberg refers to crazy love, which lacks intimacy.
  • Consummate love refers to a type of complete and ideal love. One in which all of the components can be found: intimacy, passion and commitment.

happy couple kissing

If you give love, it might be a good idea to ask yourself the same questions that Sternberg asked the couples who took part in his study. We have listed them below because surely you’ll find them very interesting and useful in order to study your own relationship: