Chapter 8: LOVE

•      Throughout history, romantic love has had little to do with marriage (de Rougemont, 1956).

•      More recently, however, and especially in Western cultures, young adults insist on romance and passion as conditions for choosing a spouse.


•      North Americans use romance as a major reason to marry, although this is not the case for many others around the world (Jankowiak & Fischer, 1992).


•      Should romance and passion be used as reasons for marriage since there are different types of “love” and passion and romance decline?




•     There are no simple, clear-cut answers.


•     Love is complex.

A Brief History of Love

•      Over the years, attitudes toward love have varied on at least 4 dimensions:

•    Cultural value: Is love a desirable or undesirable state?

•    Sexuality: Should love be sexual or nonsexual?

•    Sexual orientation: Should love involve homosexual or heterosexual partners?

•    Marital status: Should we love our spouses or reserve love for others?


•      Different societies have come up with different patterns of what love is or should be.


•      The ancient Greeks, for example, regarded passionate attraction to another person as a sign of madness having nothing to do with marriage.


•      For the Greeks, the ultimate type of love was platonic, the nonsexual adoration of a beloved and was epitomized by love between two men.

Roman Antecedents: 

•      Romans also viewed love as an undesirable madness, but they also saw it as a game (game-playing love).

•      There was a high divorce rate during the last century of the Roman Empire.


•      The concept of “courtly love” which appeared in the twelfth century, required knights to seek love as a noble quest, devoting themselves to an aristocratic lady.


•      “Courtly love” was very idealistic and elegant and explicitly adulterous– the male was expected to be unmarried and the female married to someone else!


•      Unlike the age of courtly love, marriage in the Middle Ages was political and very unromantic.



•      As the following 500 years passed, people came to associate love with passion, although it was usually doomed.

•      In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the English and other Europeans began to think of romantic love as having a “happy ending.”

•      Passion, however, was not considered a requirement for marriage.


•      Even now, the majority of people do not assume that romantic love is linked to marriage (Xiaohe & Whyte, 1990).

•      The fact that most young adults in America regard romantic love as an important part of marriage is probably due to America’s emphasis on individualism and economic prosperity as well as a lack of a caste system or ruling class.

Different Views of Love

•      Love is madness.

•      Love has little to do with marriage.

•      The best love occurs among people of the same sex.

•      Love does not need to include sexual contact.

•      Love is a noble quest.

•      Love is doomed.

•      Love can have a happy ending.

•      Love and marriage go together.

Types of Love

•      A woman writing to an advice columnist once asked why her passion had disappeared after marriage.


•      The columnist responded that infatuation and love are two different things and pointed out that love is characterized by communication, tolerance, care and was much deeper than physical infatuation.


•      Do you think there is a difference between romantic love and infatuation?


•      According to a leading theory of love, the answer is yes.

The Triangular Theory of Love

•      Sternberg (1986, 1987) proposed that different types of love are the result of a combination of 3 building blocks:


•    Intimacy

•    Passion

•    Commitment


•      Intimacy includes feelings of warmth, understanding, communication, support and sharing.


•      Passion is characterized by physical arousal and desire. It is typically displayed by sexual longing, but any strong emotional need satisfied by one’s partner fits the category of passion.


•      Commitment includes devoting oneself to a relationship and maintaining it and is more cognitive than emotional.


•      The “heat” in a romantic, loving relationship is assumed to stem from passion, the warmth from intimacy, while commitment reflects a cognitive decision, not involving emotions at all.

•      According to Sternberg, each of the three components is one side of a triangle that depicts the love between two people.


•      Each component (passion, intimacy, commitment) can vary in intensity forming triangles of different shapes and sizes.

•      Numerous shapes of triangles can occur, however, we will discuss examples of  relatively pure categories of love.

•      It is important to note that pure experiences of love like the ones we are going to discuss are probably not routine in reality.

Pure Categories of Love:

•      Nonlove: real love exists only when intimacy, passion, and commitment are present. Otherwise, the relationship is superficial, casual, and uncommitted.

•      Liking: this occurs when intimacy is high but passion and commitment are very low. Liking occurs in friendships. If, however, a friend arouses passion or is terribly missed, then the relationship has turned into something else.



•      Infatuation: strong passion in the absence of intimacy or commitment results in infatuation. Sternberg (1987) tells of his preoccupation with a girl he barely knew when he was in high school. He realizes that what he felt was only passion, thus he was infatuated.


•      Empty love: this is commitment without intimacy or passion. In Western cultures, this is evidenced in some marriages when the warmth and passion have faded, but spouses do not want to part. In other cultures, however, empty love may be the first stage in a relationship, such as in the case of arranged marriages.


•      Romantic love: when high intimacy and passion occur together, they result in romantic love. This kind of love is a combination of liking and infatuation. Although people often become committed to their romances, Sternberg argues that commitment is not a defining component of romantic love. For example, a summer love affair can be very romantic even though the lovers know it will end when the summer ends.


•      Companionate love: intimacy and commitment combine to form a close companion. Typically, partners work to maintain a deep, long-term close friendship in companionate love. This is epitomized by a long, happy marriage in which the couple’s youthful passion has slowly faded away.



•      Fatuous love: this is the result of passion and commitment in the absence of intimacy. This type of love is evidenced when two people marry quickly because of their overwhelming passion , but don’t know each other very well. These types of lovers invest a lot in an infatuation--- a risky enterprise.


•      Consummate love: this type of love results from the combination of intimacy, passion, and commitment. People who experience this kind of love experience “complete” love. Although many people seek this kind of love, Sternberg argues that it is difficult to maintain over time.


•      According to the triangular theory of love, the 3 components of love can change over time, causing people to experience different types of love in a given relationship (Sternberg, 1986).

•      Passion seems to be the most variable of the 3 components.

•      While the components of love are important aspects of relationships, different types of love probably overlap in a more complicated way than the triangular theory of love implies (Fehr, 1994).

Romantic, Passionate Love

•      If anyone has ever told you “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” they most likely meant “I like you and care about you, but I don’t find you sexually desirable” (Myers & Berscheid, 1997).


•      The triangular theory of love says that sexual attraction or passion is the defining characteristic of romantic love (Regan, Kocan, & Whitlock, 1998).


•      Any form of strong emotion (positive or negative) can influence your feelings of romantic love.


•      Hatfield & Berscheid analyzed romantic love and proposed that passionate attraction is rooted in:

•    physiological arousal coupled with

•    the belief that another person is the cause of your arousal.


Although the relationship between arousal and love can be obvious, sometimes this two-factor phenomenon can have a twist.

Misattributions and Excitation Transfer

•      Misattributions occur when we make mistakes in interpreting our feelings.

•      An example of a misattribution is called excitation transfer (Zillmann, 1978, 1984).

•    This occurs when arousal caused by one stimulus combines with arousal from a second stimulus, but the first stimulus is ignored.

•    For example, researchers have found that mild fear combined with an attractive person of one’s preferred sex can sometimes elicit arousal (Dutton & Aron, 1974).


•      Although misattribution and excitation transfer have been supported by research, they are nevertheless limited.


•      The passage of time can do away with excitation transfer and misattributions if there is a long delay between initial arousal and an emotional response.


•      Another limitation is that if one realizes the root of initial arousal (i.e. fear of something) then one will not misattribute it to sexual arousal.

Response Facilitation

•      Others have proposed that instead of misattributions, response facilitation accounts for arousal.


•      This occurs whenever arousal is present because no matter where it comes from or how we interpret it, our predominant response to the situation will be energized.


•      So for instance, even if one realizes that one is afraid in a particular situation, the excitation alone will draw more attention to an attractive other.

The Passionate Love Scale (Short Form) pg. 229

•      This questionnaire measures the passion component of romantic love and includes statements like the following,

•    I would feel deep despair if ____ left me.

•    I feel happy when I am doing something to make ____ happy.

•    I want ____ physically, emotionally, mentally.

•    For me, ____ is the perfect romantic partner.


•      Romantic partners likely think about each other in different ways than they think about their friends.

•      Rubin (1973) created a Love and Liking Scale that emphasizes what lovers are thinking.

•      Themes on the Love scale include intimacy, attachment, and caring.

•      The Love scale portrays love as a complex, multifaceted experience involving giving (caring) and taking (attachment).

•      Rubin proposes that when we fall in love, we want to be with our partners because we like the way they make us feel and because we care for them and want to protect them.


•      Love for our romantic partners is not only characterized by feelings of desire and care, but also by their intensity and urgency.

•      For example, we would do anything for our partners and be miserable without them.

•      In contrast to loving, liking is less intense.

•      An interesting study found that as people think a lot about their partners, they also tend to love them more and vice versa (Tesser & Paulus, 1976).


•      Judgments we make about others also influence the way we feel about them.

•    Goodwin and colleagues (1997) found that when men expected to go out on a date with a woman they rated her work as better than when they did not expect to go out on a date.

•    In a way, “love is blind” because we find our lovers to be fascinating in ways our friends and others are not.


•      Thoughts about ourselves can also change when we fall in love.

•      Aron and Aron (2000) suggest that love causes our self-concepts or our ideas about ourselves to expand and change.

•      As a result of experiencing new things and learning more about ourselves when we are in love, our self-esteem rises (Aron et al., 1989).

Companionate Love

•      Companionate love is a more settled state than romantic love and it can be characterized as a “comfortable, affectionate, trusting love for a likable partner, based on deep friendship involving companionship and the enjoyment of common activities, mutual interests, and shared laughter” (Grote & Frieze, 1994).

•      While this is nice, it may sound a little bland compared to the thrill of romantic love.

•      Still, hundreds of married men and women’s most frequent response to why they thought their marriages had lasted at least 15 years was that their spouse was their best friend and because they liked their spouse as a person (Laurer & Laurer, 1985).


•      It is important to remember that pure examples of love are not very common, thus companionate lovers can and do experience passion and romantic lovers can and do feel commitment.

•      Nevertheless, it is possible to divide two major types of love that frequently occur in the US:

•    a love that is full of passion and leads people to marry and

•    a love that is full of friendship and underlies marriages that last a long time.

Styles of Loving

•      John Alan Lee (1977, 1988) used Greek and Latin words to describe six styles of love that differ in the intensity of the loving experience.



•      Eros---the erotic lover searches for physical appearance and believes in love at first sight.

•      Ludus---the ludic lover is playful and often has several partners at the same time.

•      Storge---the storgic lover seek genuine friendships that lead to real commitment.

•      Mania---the manic lover is demanding, possessive and feels “out of control.”

•      Agape---the apagic lover is giving and selfless.

•      Pragma---the pragmatic lover seeks for someone of the proper age, religion, career, etc.


•      It may be more useful to think of the six styles of love as overlapping themes in loving relationships.

•      Certain styles have been correlated with particular types of relationships:

•    Eros and agape are positively correlated with romantic love.

•    Ludus is negatively correlated with romantic love.

•    Men tend to score higher on ludus than women do.


Individual Differences in Love:
Attachment Styles

•      The secure, avoidant, and anxious/ambivalent attachment styles identified in infancy and childhood have been expanded in studies of adult relationships.

•      In particular, people who had a secure style tended to be more trusting, committed, and satisfied in their romantic relationships than avoidant or anxious people (Simpson, 1990).


•      Researchers found that in regards to romantic love, secure people tend to score higher on intimacy, passion, and commitment than insecure people.

•      In general, secure attachment is associated with richer experiences of romantic and companionate love.

A New Conceptualization of Attachment

•      Bartholomew came up with four categories of attachment style:

•    Secure– easy to become emotionally involved and is comfortable depending on others.

•    Preoccupied--- is uncomfortable being without close relationships but is worried about not being valued enough.

•    Fearful--- is uncomfortable getting close to others and is not very trusting.

•    Dismissing--- is comfortable without close relationships and likes independence.

Individual Differences in Love:

•      Individual differences are relatively enduring characteristics of individuals that exert an influence across different situations.

•      These individual differences include:

•    gender,

•    age, and

•    personality tendencies.

Gender and Love:

There are many gender differences in love experiences:

•      Males More Than Females:

•     Romanticism.

•     Falling in love earlier in a relationship.

•     Ludus love.

•      Females and males about Equal:

•     Love at first sight.

•     Passionate Love.

•     Agape and Eros types of love.

•     Looking at each other.

Gender and Love (continued):

•      Females More Than Males:

•     Liking.

•     Discriminating among love, liking, and romanticism.

•     Frequency of being in love.

•     Intensity of romantic sensations.

•     More vivid memories of past partners.

•     Idealization of partner.

•     Finding love rewarding.


Females More Than Males:

•    Experiences of unrequited love.

•    Greater liking leading to better recall of what partner said.

•    Storge, Mania, and Pragma types of love.

Gender and Love (continued):

•      The exact reasons for these gender differences are unknown.

•      Possibly, they reflect a gender difference in what men and women are willing to report, rather than actual gender differences in love experiences.

•      Perhaps these findings indicate that love is more important to women than to men because of socialization practices, economic concerns, or both.

Men and Women

•      Women, on average, tend to experience stronger, more intense, and more volatile emotions than men do (Brody & Hall, 1993).

•      Men tend to have more romantic attitudes than women do and are more likely than women to think that if you love someone nothing else matters (Sprecher & Metts, 1989).

•      Women are more selective and fall in love less quickly than men do (Kendrick et al., 1990).

•      Men tend to be less discriminating and accept casual sex more.

•      Over time non-traditional couples may have greater companionate love for each other.

Age and Love:

•      It is difficult to examine the influence of age on love because age is associated with many other factors (such as having had more relationships and having had relationships that lasted longer).

•      The available research suggests the possibility that romanticism may have a curvilinear association with age, decreasing at first and then increasing.


•      Although it is difficult to tell whether changes in relationships are due to age versus experience and history, some evidence has been found for changes in relationships as a function of age.


•      In general, it seems that older people replace urgent, intense passion with more humor and a more mature outlook on love.

Personality and Love:

•      The role that self-esteem plays in people's love experiences has received a great deal of attention.

•      It now appears that people low in self-esteem do not react more positively to friendly overtures than do those high in self-esteem.

•      The evidence for the matching hypothesis (that people would be more attracted to those with a similar level of self-esteem) is mixed.

Personality and Love (continued):

•      Dion and Dion have conducted a series of studies on the relationship between love and various personality factors--including (1) self-esteem, (2) internal-external control, (3) defensiveness, and (4) self-actualization.

•      Their research suggests an important distinction between the confidence to pursue love relations and the need for these relations.

•      High levels of self-esteem, personal security, and independence appear to contribute to the former, while lower levels contribute to the latter.

Does Love Last?

•      The harsh truth is that, in general, romantic love decreases after people marry (Sprecher & Regan, 1998).

•      After just two years of marriage, spouses express affection only half as often as they did when they were first married (Huston & Chorost, 1994)!

•      Worldwide, divorces occur more often in the fourth year of marriage than any other time (Fisher, 1995).

Why Doesn’t Romantic Love Last?

•      Several reasons may be responsible for the decline in romantic love over time (Walster & Walster, 1978).

•      First, fantasy enhances romance.

•      Lovers tend to idealize their partners, at least until reality settles in.

•      Novelty also enhances excitement to new lovers.

•      Arousal fades as time passes.

•      Overall, the passionate component of love fades more quickly than intimacy or commitment (Acker & Davis, 1992).

So What Does the Future Hold?

•      Often, the love that leads people to marry is not the love that keeps them together decades later. However, this is not necessarily bad news.

•      Companionate love is more stable than romantic love (Sprecher & Regan, 1998) and those who experience this kind of love express satisfaction in their relationships.


•     What does this suggest?

•    Enjoy passion, but don’t make it the foundation of your relationship.

•    Nurture a friendship with your lover.

•    Grab every opportunity to enjoy novel adventures with your spouse.