When you ask the question “What
is Love??” people will give you many different explanations. Indeed, love is
many things for many people. I would like to present the concept of ‘Consummate
Love’ following the ‘Triangular Theory of Love’ developed by Robert Sternberg.
Robert Sternberg explains that love exists in interpersonal
relationships that are characterised by intimacy (closeness, connectedness, and
bondedness), passion (romance, physical attraction, sexual consummation), and
by commitment (the decision to remain with each other, share achievements, and
make plans together).
The depth of love a person experiences and
the survival of a relationship are closely linked to how strong intimacy,
passion, and commitment are. Thus love is selective – because you commit
to a specific partner and enduring because you make a commitment for the long
term. More so, we can’t make ourselves love a certain person. Love seems to
happen. We form a strong attachment to another person involuntarily without the
involvement of ‘will’.
Thus love in this respect is
about forming close and meaningful attachments in which the partners meet each
others need for care, touch, emotional connection, and recognition. In the
presence of such deep attachment positive emotions of gratitude and forgiveness
can flourish and nurture both partners.
While selfishness is all about
me, love in this sense is not selfish but all about the other. The grief we feel when we lose the partner we
love is about the other as well as ourselves. In this case we are not
able anymore to express actively our love to our partner, and we are not
receiving the love from our loved-one.
Indeed, it is the principle of
reciprocity that plays a dominant role in love and being loved. You might even
say that you have to give away love in order to receive and keep it. “Being
deeply loved by someone give you strength, while loving someone deeply gives
you courage” (G. Vaillant, 2008, Spiritual Evolution)