What It Takes to Achieve Your Ideal Relationship: Using Sternberg’s Triangle to Understand the Psychology of Love

One of the major theories we alluded to at our Zend Talk was the triangular theory of love. Designed by American psychologist Robert Sternberg – who, according to the American Psychological Association, was one of the most cited psychologists in the 20th century – the triangular theory of love argues that there exist 7 types of love. Each type varies in their degree of emphasis in one or more of three dimensions: intimacy, passion, and commitment.

The seven types of love posited by this theory are liking, infatuated love, empty love, romantic love, companionate love, fatuous love, and consummate love. The first 6 types of love listed are sub-optimal. The last, however, is the highest form of love – that is, the love in which the elation of the honeymoon phase is maintained. Consummate love is high in all three dimensions of intimacy, passion, and commitment.

Image from https://nathensmiraculousescape.com/2011/05/31/sternbergs-love-typology/
                        The 7 types of love in Sternberg’s Triangle (Image from https://nathensmiraculousescape.com/2011/05/31/sternbergs-love-typology/)

What does it look like when a relationship is high in all three dimensions? Simply put, the individuals in this relationship continue to have a fervent desire for each other and a concern for the other’s well-being, even years into their arrangement. These qualities manifest as:

  1. an inclination to be emotionally and physically vulnerable with one another (intimacy)
  2. feelings of exhilaration around one another (passion)
  3. a willingness to admit to, confront, and improve upon one’s own faults and those of their partner, especially those that harm the relationship (commitment)

Many single men and women are craving for the connection that consummate love promises. The obstacle to achieving this connection, however, lies in the complexities of modern day relationships and its influence on online dating platforms. Because we are living in an age in which we can access and get what we want faster than we have ever been able to, modern day relationships lack the patience required to build a foundation of consummate love. Even worse, we as individuals are increasingly lacking the patience required to build ourselves into solid individuals before we enter into relationships.

Consequently, wishing for consummate love sounds idealistic at best, and downright naïve at worst. It is especially easy to think this way when 40% of marriages in Canada do not last.

At Vintage Matchmaking, we believe that cultivating and maintaining consummate love is possible if you invest in yourself first and foremost. Building a worthwhile relationship with that special someone necessitates patience for not only that process, but also for the process of building oneself into a patient and whole person. After all, how can you be fully intimate, passionate, and committed to another person if you cannot be such with yourself?


Hence, our pre-matchmaking process at Vintage Matchmaking maximizes your chances of experiencing consummate love, first by addressing these three qualities:

  1. Intimacy – your inclination to be vulnerable with yourself (i.e. admitting to your mistakes)
  2. Passion – your excitement and love for the current state of your life
  3. Commitment – your promise to always better yourself

The best things in life take time to develop. This includes the best of relationships. Most importantly, however, this includes the best versions of ourselves, which are the precursor to the best of relationships.
Nicole Jessica Yuen is a Vancouver-born student with a fascination for human psychology and the importance of its appreciation in long-term relationships. Aside from human relationships, she is also hopelessly romantic about creative non-fiction writing, long walks, chai lattes, and ripe avocados (who isn’t?). You can check out more of her work at aimlesslycontemplating.com.

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