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Dimensions of Loving Relationships

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Dimensions of Loving Relationships (part 1)

When asking someone to explain the definition of love, different answers maybe given because love is a complex, and sometimes complicated feeling that involves some work from those involved. There are different forms of love and each has its own levels of demand, such as; the love a person has for their partner will carry greater exclusiveness over that they feel for their friends and family, but the meaning is still true in their hearts. Love, in general, means having compassion, commitment, honor, loyalty, intimacy, and the willingness to go to great links to protect them at any cost. People are not going to have an intimate relationship with their family, but they will protect, stay loyal to and have compassion for them. The three dimensions of love, according to Robert Sternberg's triangular love theory are; intimacy, passion, and commitment, but the level of the components is based upon the type of relationship they are in.

Triangular Theory of Love

According to Baumgardner and Crothers (2009), "In Sternberg's model, intimacy, passion, and commitment each represent one side of a triangle describing the love shared by two people" (p. 250). Some people may interpret intimacy as having a sexual relationship, but it means so much more and can be associated between one or more other people within a close relationship. Intimacy is when two or more people share the same understanding, are concerned with the other's welfare, have a closeness, and are affectionate (Baumgardner & Crothers, 2009). The next characteristic is passion, which encompasses a driving connection to sexual attraction and desire associated with the physiological arousal, strong tied emotions, and excitement (2009). The third side of Sternberg's triangle is commitment, which is the determination to stick with the relationship through the thick and thin, the ups and downs, the good and bad, and staying on the right side of the fence no matter how tempting the "green grass" maybe. Commitment also balances a high level of devotion, truth, and the urgent need to maintain and continuously work on a relationship. No relationship, whether it be friend, family, or partner is easy, they all take excruciating hard and possibly exhausting work, but never throwing in the towel just because things are not as perfect as one would expect is the key (2009).

The Variety of Love Relationships

In Sternberg's model, he also describes various varieties of love, along with specific components that intertwine companionate, romantic and fatuous loves (Baumgardner & Crothers, 2009). Companionate love intermingles intimacy and commitment together and is the foundation for an everlasting and successful relationship. This type of love is slow developing, generally after some degree of passion has faded from a marriage, and is based on an affectionate and deep friendship.

Another form is romantic love, consisting of intimacy and passion, although oddly enough this form of love does not consist of commitment, since Sternberg argues this is not a defining character (Baumgardner & Crothers, 2009). Say a person goes to visit a family member for the summer and "hooks up" with someone and this romance contains great intensity, passion, and intimacy, but the end of summer the two will also mark the end of the romance, thus containing no commitment.

Fatuous love mixes passion and commitment, but lacks intimacy and would qualify for those people who barely know each other, yet is indulged by an intense romance based on and sustained only by passion making it impossible to last because that will soon fade (Baumgardner & Crothers, 2009). On the other end of the spectrum is infatuated love, consisting of passion alone with no commitment or intimacy. This form of love best describes individuals who do not know each other well, but insist that they are madly in love and would "die" if they were not with that person and the majority of us have felt this way. Perhaps, this description best describes teenagers and the way they relate to each other, but it can also pretty accurately describe the admiration or sexually-related feelings people have towards any celebrity (Baumgardner & Crothers, 2009).

Empty love only consists of commitment, where passion and intimacy has no bearing or influence, merely a purpose of staying together. At best it means that two people are emotionless and come to terms with some sort of reason to keep them together. A couple of examples are; people staying together because they have children or because they have been together for so long that neither one knows how to survive on their own.

Consummate, also known as complete love contains all dimensions; commitment, intimacy, and passion. This form is desired by all people, but argued that it cannot be maintained because the passion dwindles with time (Baumgardner & Crothers, 2009). However, there are many couples that have been together for thirty, forty, or even fifty years and to look at them they still have the same amount of passion, if not more than they did when they first were married.

To use the term, complex when describing love could not be more appropriate considering when a person looks at the underline definition of love, but some seem to be missing the love portion. However, the true meaning of love is within ourselves regardless of being able to explain it or not, but some forms of love are better left behind.

Attachment Style-Part 2

When some are asked how their first love relationship was developed, it would seem that they would say it was a high school sweet heart, this is not likely the first love, but rather it was the love of a mother. According to Baumgardner and Crothers (2009), "When did you: first learn about trusting someone and having your emotional needs attended to and cared for; first reveal your deeper feelings, fears, and needs; first feel that no one else could replace this person in your life; first display lots of mutual affection, like hugging, kissing and holding; first know that this relationship was for life" (p. 257)? When looking at those aspects, one can see how the first love and attachment relationship was in fact with the person who first cared the most. A mother's love is unconditional



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