Chapter 8: LOVE
history, romantic love has had little to do with marriage (de Rougemont, 1956).
recently, however, and especially in Western cultures, young adults insist on
romance and passion as conditions for choosing a spouse.
Americans use romance as a major reason to marry, although this is not the case
for many others around the world (Jankowiak & Fischer, 1992).
romance and passion be used as reasons for marriage since there are different
types of love and passion and romance decline?
are no simple, clear-cut answers.
A Brief History of Love
years, attitudes toward love have varied on at least 4 dimensions:
value: Is love a desirable or undesirable state?
Should love be sexual or nonsexual?
orientation: Should love involve homosexual or heterosexual partners?
status: Should we love our spouses or reserve love for others?
societies have come up with different patterns of what love is or should be.
ancient Greeks, for example, regarded passionate attraction to another person
as a sign of madness having nothing to do with marriage.
the Greeks, the ultimate type of love was platonic, the nonsexual adoration of
a beloved and was epitomized by love between two men.
viewed love as an undesirable madness, but they also saw it as a game
There was a
high divorce rate during the last century of the Roman Empire.
concept of courtly love which appeared in the twelfth century, required
knights to seek love as a noble quest, devoting themselves to an aristocratic
love was very idealistic and elegant and explicitly adulterous the male was
expected to be unmarried and the female married to someone else!
the age of courtly love, marriage in the Middle Ages was political and very
As the following
500 years passed, people came to associate love with passion, although it was
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the English and other Europeans began to
think of romantic love as having a happy ending.
however, was not considered a requirement for marriage.
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 Americas emphasis on individualism and economic prosperity as well as a
lack of a caste system or ruling class.
Different Views of Love
little to do with marriage.
love occurs among people of the same sex.
not need to include sexual contact.
Love is a
have a happy ending.
marriage go together.
Types of Love
writing to an advice columnist once asked why her passion had disappeared after
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.
think there is a difference between romantic love and infatuation?
to a leading theory of love, the answer is yes.
The Triangular Theory of Love
(1986, 1987) proposed that different types of love are the result of a
combination of 3 building blocks:
includes feelings of warmth, understanding, communication, support and sharing.
is characterized by physical arousal and desire. It is typically displayed by
sexual longing, but any strong emotional need satisfied by ones partner fits
the category of passion.
includes devoting oneself to a relationship and maintaining it and is more
cognitive than emotional.
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.
to Sternberg, each of the three components is one side of a triangle that
depicts the love between two people.
component (passion, intimacy, commitment) can vary in intensity forming
triangles of different shapes and sizes.
of triangles can occur, however, we will discuss examples of relatively pure categories of love.
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.
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.
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.
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 couples youthful passion has
slowly faded away.
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 dont know each other very well. These types of lovers invest a lot in an
infatuation--- a risky enterprise.
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
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).
seems to be the most variable of the 3 components.
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
anyone has ever told you I love you, but Im not in love with you they
most likely meant I like you and care about you, but I dont find you sexually
desirable (Myers & Berscheid, 1997).
triangular theory of love says that sexual attraction or passion is the
defining characteristic of romantic love (Regan, Kocan, & Whitlock, 1998).
form of strong emotion (positive or negative) can influence your feelings of
& Berscheid analyzed romantic love and proposed that passionate attraction
is rooted in:
arousal coupled with
belief that another person is the cause of your arousal.
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.
of a misattribution is called excitation transfer (Zillmann, 1978,
when arousal caused by one stimulus combines with arousal from a second
stimulus, but the first stimulus is ignored.
example, researchers have found that mild fear combined with an attractive
person of ones preferred sex can sometimes elicit arousal (Dutton & Aron,
misattribution and excitation transfer have been supported by research, they
are nevertheless limited.
passage of time can do away with excitation transfer and misattributions if
there is a long delay between initial arousal and an emotional response.
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.
have proposed that instead of misattributions, response facilitation accounts
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.
for instance, even if one realizes that one is afraid in a particular
situation, the excitation alone will draw more attention to an attractive
The Passionate Love Scale (Short Form)
questionnaire measures the passion component of romantic love and includes
statements like the following,
feel deep despair if ____ left me.
happy when I am doing something to make ____ happy.
I want ____
physically, emotionally, mentally.
____ is the perfect romantic partner.
partners likely think about each other in different ways than they think about
(1973) created a Love and Liking Scale that emphasizes what lovers are
on the Love scale include intimacy, attachment, and caring.
Love scale portrays love as a complex, multifaceted experience involving giving
(caring) and taking (attachment).
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
our romantic partners is not only characterized by feelings of desire and care,
but also by their intensity and urgency.
example, we would do anything for our partners and be miserable
to loving, liking is less intense.
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).
we make about others also influence the way we feel about them.
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
In a way,
love is blind because we find our lovers to be fascinating in ways our
friends and others are not.
about ourselves can also change when we fall in love.
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).
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).
this is nice, it may sound a little bland compared to the thrill of romantic
hundreds of married men and womens 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 &
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.
it is possible to divide two major types of love that frequently occur in the
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
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.
may be more useful to think of the six styles of love as overlapping themes in
styles have been correlated with particular types of relationships:
agape are positively correlated with romantic love.
negatively correlated with romantic love.
Men tend to
score higher on ludus than women do.
Individual Differences in Love:
avoidant, and anxious/ambivalent attachment styles identified in infancy and
childhood have been expanded in studies of adult relationships.
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).
found that in regards to romantic love, secure people tend to score higher on
intimacy, passion, and commitment than insecure people.
secure attachment is associated with richer experiences of romantic and
A New Conceptualization of Attachment
came up with four categories of attachment style:
to become emotionally involved and is comfortable depending on others.
is uncomfortable being without close relationships but is worried about not
being valued enough.
is uncomfortable getting close to others and is not very trusting.
is comfortable without close relationships and likes independence.
Individual Differences in Love:
differences are relatively enduring characteristics of individuals that
exert an influence across different situations.
individual differences include:
Gender and Love:
There are many
gender differences in love experiences:
More Than Females:
in love earlier in a relationship.
Females and males about
at first sight.
and Eros types of love.
at each other.
Gender and Love (continued):
More Than Males:
among love, liking, and romanticism.
of being in love.
of romantic sensations.
vivid memories of past partners.
Females More Than Males:
of unrequited love.
liking leading to better recall of what partner said.
Mania, and Pragma types of love.
Gender and Love (continued):
exact reasons for these gender differences are unknown.
they reflect a gender difference in what men and women are willing to report,
rather than actual gender differences in love experiences.
these findings indicate that love is more important to women than to men
because of socialization practices, economic concerns, or both.
Men and Women
on average, tend to experience stronger, more intense, and more volatile
emotions than men do (Brody & Hall, 1993).
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 &
are more selective and fall in love less quickly than men do (Kendrick et al.,
tend to be less discriminating and accept casual sex more.
time non-traditional couples may have greater companionate love for each other.
Age and Love:
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).
available research suggests the possibility that romanticism may have a
curvilinear association with age, decreasing at first and then increasing.
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.
it seems that older people replace urgent, intense passion with more humor and
a more mature outlook on love.
Personality and Love:
role that self-esteem plays in people's love experiences has received a great
deal of attention.
now appears that people low in self-esteem do not react more positively to
friendly overtures than do those high in self-esteem.
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):
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.
research suggests an important distinction between the confidence to pursue
love relations and the need for these relations.
levels of self-esteem, personal security, and independence appear to contribute
to the former, while lower levels contribute to the latter.
Does Love Last?
truth is that, in general, romantic love decreases after people marry (Sprecher
& Regan, 1998).
two years of marriage, spouses express affection only half as often as they did
when they were first married (Huston & Chorost, 1994)!
divorces occur more often in the fourth year of marriage than any other time
Why Doesnt Romantic Love Last?
reasons may be responsible for the decline in romantic love over time (Walster
& Walster, 1978).
fantasy enhances romance.
tend to idealize their partners, at least until reality settles in.
also enhances excitement to new lovers.
fades as time passes.
the passionate component of love fades more quickly than intimacy or commitment
(Acker & Davis, 1992).
So What Does the Future Hold?
love that leads people to marry is not the love that keeps them together
decades later. However, this is not necessarily bad news.
love is more stable than romantic love (Sprecher & Regan, 1998) and those
who experience this kind of love express satisfaction in their relationships.
does this suggest?
passion, but dont make it the foundation of your relationship.
a friendship with your lover.
every opportunity to enjoy novel adventures with your spouse.