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  • Writer's pictureRosie

Different Types of Love

Updated: Apr 11, 2020

It’s Valentine’s Day and it’s got me thinking about love. Card shops encourage us to think about love for a significant other but increasingly people are expressing and recognising love beyond this.

13th February is these days referred to as “Galentines day” a day to celebrate the love you have for your female friends. Originally this term came from an episode of Parks and Recreation but now seems to be becoming a recognised holiday that some companies are using it in their promotions.

There are many different types of love, friendship, family, kindness and of course intimacy/ romantic love.

Lover of a diagram and especially a triangle, I found the above image. Psychologist Robert Sternberg (1998) viewed love as a triangle of passion, intimacy and commitment. These 3 points are thought of like primary colours which can combine to form secondary love styles.

Passionate love.

“We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love” - Freud.

Passionate love is intense and exciting, it takes over. You become infatuated with the person and can have a lot to do with sexual attraction. Being in a passionate relationship can lead you to experience a range of emotions (happiness, jealousy, desire, hurt...) and through it learn so much.


Intimacy refers to feelings of connectedness, closeness and a bond.


Passionate love is often experienced at the start of a relationship, as the relationship gets longer there tends to be less ups and downs. Sometimes the loss of this intense passion can cause couples to split up, in search of that intense feeling elsewhere.

Commitment is about long term, this can be a comfortable and dependable love. Sometimes commitment can exist without acknowledging love.

All 3 points of the triangle can be felt within different relationships or even the same relationship at different points. Each part can influence another part e.g. greater intimacy can lead to greater passion or commitment. As the diagram shows, these points lead to 8 different types of love. No relationship is likely to be purely one of these types of love, it will go between types at different stages.

This also can fit nicely into attachment theory, different attachment styles maybe drawn to different types of love. Those with a secure attachment find it easier to form longer lasting, deeper relationships.

Where as those with insecure attachment styles may find it harder to form longer lasting relationships. Those with an insecure/ anxious attachment may fall in love quickly and sex can seem like a direct way to increase intimacy and closeness. However, once this rush of excitement at the start of the relationship has passed, anxious attachment style individuals can be overwhelmed by fear that their partner will leave them that they turn to jealous and restricting behaviour.

Often people come to counselling due to problems within their relationships and a desire for things to be different. Counselling allows that space to explore past experiences and attachments and see how these impact onto present relationships.

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