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The Ups and
Downs of Love


•  Psychologist Robert Sternberg views love as a triangle, whose three sides consist of passion, intimacy, & commitment.

Ψ  Passionate Love is emotional, exciting, & intense. Elaine Hatfield (1988) defined it as “a state of intense longing for union with another”. Passionate love is mostly expressed in a physical manner while maintaining an exclusive relationship.

• Schacter & Singer’s Two Factor Model of Emotion states that arousal X label (cognitive) = emotion. It appears that physical arousal from any source intensifies feelings of passion.

•  Time & culture both have an affect on the love formed in a relationship, e. g. In non-Western cultures, love often follows marriage.

•  Gender: Men tend to fall more readily in love & seen to fall out of love more slowly, Men are less likely to break up a premarital romance. Women may be more emotionally involved & are more focused on the intimacy of the relationship & on concern for their partner.

Ψ  Companionate Love is best defined as a passionate love that has settled to a warm enduring love between the two partners in a relationship.


•  Psychologist Robert Sternberg conception of the kinds of loving as combinations of the 3 basic components of love.

•  In his 1973 book The Colors of Love, John Lee compared styles of love to the color wheel. Just as there are three primary colors, Lee suggested three primary & three secondary styles.

    Primary:    •  Eros – self-disclosing passion
                          •  Ludos – Love as a game
                            •  Storge – Love as friendship

    Secondary     •  Mania (Eros + Ludos) – Obsessive love
                               •  Pragma (Ludos + Storge) – Realistic & practical love
                                •  Agape (Eros + Storge) – Selfless love

Ψ  Maintaining Close Relationships

•  Equity theory: the idea that people are happiest with relationships in which the rewards & costs experienced & the contributions made by both parties are roughly equal.

•  Long-term equity is achieved by not focusing on “who owes who” in a relationship. When one partner provides the other with their needs, a form of return in not expected. Being able to look past & not feel that a debt is owed, is what allows the relationship to last.

Ψ  Self-Disclosure

•  Deep, Companionate relationships allow us to feel accepted for who we are. An important part in the growth of a relationship is the self-disclosure process. Exposing ones innermost thoughts & weaknesses helps to nurture love. The nature of the disclosures steadily progresses in a increasing fashion, due to disclosure reciprocity (disclosure begets disclosure).

•  Carl Rogers (1980) identified 3 factors which make growth promoting listeners effective (at eliciting disclosure): people who are

        •  genuine in revealing their own feelings.
         •  accepting of other people’s feelings.
           •  empathetic & sensitive listeners.

Ψ  Internet Effects

•  The internet provides a pathway for computer-mediated communication within virtual communities, it is not the real thing, & does not work as well as the real thing.

•  The "digital divide" accentuates social & educational inequalities. "Balkanization" (diversity of viewpoints both good & bad) is built into the system. From the work of Robert Putnam: Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (2000, ISBN 0-7432-0304-6).

It's a Mickey Mouse World , isn't it?

Ψ  Ending Relationships

•  Often, when people perceive a relationship to be unequal, they will end the relationship. The closer & longer the relationship has lasted, the more painful the breakup.

•  Who Divorces: Individualistic Cultures (where love is a feeling not an obligation) have more divorce than do communal cultures.

•  People usually stay married if they:

        •  Have a stable income
         •  Were married after age 20
          •  Are religiously committed
           •  Are well and similarly educated
            •  Date a long while before marriage
             •  Are of similar age, faith, and education
              •  Both grew up in stable, two-parent homes
               •  Did not cohabitate or become pregnant before marriage

•  The Detachment Process: Severing bonds produces a predictable sequence of agitated preoccupation with the lost partner, followed by deep sadness &, eventually, the beginnings of emotional detachment & a return to normal living. From the work of Hazan & Shaver (1994).

Social Psychology
  Robert C. Gates