Following the American Psychological Association’s Guidelines
According to Robert Sternberg, there are three dimensions of love. Of these three dimensions, there are passion, intimacy, and commitment. The three dimensions are often thought of as points on a triangle. Each point associates with its neighbor as a type of love. Passion is associated with infatuation. Infatuation is associated with commitment, and so on. All three can be combined for a type of love that represents a different feeling, sometimes coinciding with a different attachment style. Passion itself relates to feelings of infatuation or obsessing. Intimacy is akin to feelings of liking, or even sometimes friendliness, while commitment can be similar to empty love in many cases. This is confusing to some, but when we commit, sometimes for the wrong reasons, it often ends up being empty.
A combination of the different types of love has an impact on type of the love relationship an individual experiences. For example, if an individual is feeling passion and intimacy, or the associated feelings of liking and infatuation/obsession, they are likely experiencing romantic love. This type of love can last for any amount of time but is unlikely to carry a couple through happily until death. Experiencing passion and commitment leaves the individual with fatuous love. Of each type of love, this is the most fleeting and least fulfilling. Intimacy and commitment will leave a person feeling companionate love. This can be one of the most fulfilling, as it can be experienced with anybody. Intimacy can be experienced with a lover or a good friend over a cup of coffee. While each of these connections is owed recognition, if two people feel all three, passion, intimacy, and commitment, they are experiencing consummate love, which is thought to be the strongest bond one can feel for another person, as it holds all of the elements involved with loving another person. It is typically the most consuming love, leaving the two individuals the most satisfied for the longest. It is the type of love that represents sexual expression, verbal intimacy, and a long-term commitment that typically lasts the majority of, if not all of the couple’s life.
Attachment styles can have an impact on different love styles one experiences. Connections between intimacy and passion, intimacy and commitment, or all three, involve the emotional attachment intimacy demands. An individual with a dismissive attachment style is likely to be uncomfortable with emotional attachment or the very idea of intimacy. They may be more comfortable with a relationship involving passion and commitment, but not intimacy; this relationship would leave them feeling as though they are still able to retain their independence. Similarly, an individual with a high fearful attachment style will also be uncomfortable with intimacy, but will also be socially avoidant. It could make them unlikely to commit to another individual though they, because humans are social creatures, they could seek short passionate endeavors with other individuals only to regain isolation shortly thereafter. However, individuals experiencing fearful attachment sometimes find themselves dependent on others which could mean they become scared of being left, causing them to demand commitment, even if they do not want it.
Some individuals do not fear intimacy, so much so they become preoccupied with sharing. This attachment style is called preoccupied. They are often known as “clingy.” In reality, they are often simply obsessed with what others think of them. They often spend more time than necessary seeking validation and approval. This attachment style is often associated with fatuous love, involving commitment and passion. There is little intimacy in the constant quest for approval, though passion may be running rampant. The individual may also be desperate for commitment, if only to prove to themselves they are worthy of one.