Among our basic human needs (based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) is the need for other people. We need companionship of friends, and also the affection and intimacy of a closer relationship that so called love. Fun fact about finding a mate; that both men and women are naturally more attracted to people with symmetrical faces.

But what is LOVE exactly?

Love may be one of the most complex of human emotions, but also possibly the most central too. At present, there are 4 primary theories that attempt to explain love, emotional attachment and liking. First, the scale of liking and loving by Zick Rubin. Rubin is one of the first people to create a method of empirically measuring love. He believed in 3 elements of romantic love:

  1. Attachment.
  2. Caring.
  3. Intimacy.

To empirically prove this theory, Rubin created 2 questionnaires that would able to measure the elements. According to Rubin, the difference between liking and loving someone can be seen in how we evaluate the other person.

Second, Elaine Hatfield’s passionate and compassionate love. Different from Rubin’s scale, Elaine claims there were only 2 forms of love: passionate and compassionate love. Passionate love is the feeling of intense sexual arousal, attraction, affection, emotion, and strong urge to be with one another. Passionate love tends to be short-lived, lasting from 6-33 months, but can lead to compassionate love. Meanwhile, compassionate love is the feeling of attachment, respect, trust, affection, and commitment, it lasts longer than passionate love.

Hatfield also distinguished between reciprocated love which leads to feelings of elation and fulfillment, and unreciprocated love, which leads to feeling of desperation. She believed in certain factors:

  1. Timing (when individual is ready to fall and be in love).
  2. Similarity (tendency to fall passionately in love with individual that is similar).
  3. Early attachment styles (long-term and deeper relationships are often result of people who are strongly attached to one another).

Third, six styles of love by John Lee: eros, ludos, storge, mania, pragma, and agape.

Eros, ludos, and storge are 3 basic primary styles.

  1. Eros is loving the ideal of a person physically and emotionally.
  2. Ludos is a type of love that is played like a game or conquest.
  3. Storge, love that stems from a friendship over time.

Those basic primary style can be combined and the result, 3 secondary styles of love.

  1. Mania, a combination of eros and ludos, a love that is obsessive.
  2. Pragma, a combination of ludos and storge, a love that is practical.
  3. Agape, a combination of eros and storge, a love that is all encompassing—selfless.

Last but not least, Robert Sternberg’s triangular theory of love (2004). Stenberg proposed that love could be broken down into 3 parts: Intimacy, Passion, and Commitment. From these 3 components, 7 different combinations can be created:

  1. Liking / friendship (intimacy).
  2. Infatuation / limerance (passion).
  3. Empty love (commitment).
  4. Romantic love (intimacy + passion).
  5. Compassionate love (intimacy + commitment).
  6. Fatuous love (passion + commitment).
  7. Consummate love (all three).

Stenberg believed that the balance between all three would shift. For a relationship to become a lasting one, Sternberg argued that it must rely on more than one elements, and should be ideally be a combination of all three. But, even a long-term loving can break down for variety of reasons such as age, socio-economic, and background. Even in the most loving relationship there will be conflict, and how it’s to resolved may determine whether or not the partnership will survive.


“The amount of love one experiences depends on the absolute strength of intimacy, passion, and commitment” – Robert Sternberg.

Evelyn, 2015

Instagram: LynnAerith

All rights reserved.


Kleinman, Paul. 2012. “Psych101”, Adams Media, U.S.A.

Weeks, Marcus. 2014. “Heads Up Psychology”, DK Publishing, New York.

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