1. The love triangle. According to Robert Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love (2004), love consists of three components, intimacy (emotional closeness), passion (sexual and romantic attraction), and commitment. The ideal form of love for a romantic couple (Consummate love) involves all three components, but it is not easy to maintain, as the passionate spark tends to fade over time.
2. The color wheel. John Lee (1973) identified six styles of love and referred to them as the “colors of love,” although they are do not correspond to actual colors. The first style, Eros, is characterized by idealization of one’s partner and strong romantic feelings. Ludus is characterized by a need for excitement and a view of love as a game – research suggests that men are more likely than women to be ludic. Storge is characterized by stability and friendship, similar to Sternberg’s companionate love.Pragma is characterized by practical considerations, such as looking for a “checklist” of traits. Storge and pragma are more common among women. Mania involves obsession, jealousy, and extreme ups and downs. Agape refers to selflessness and unconditional compassion.
3. The mere exposure effect. This is one of the most memorable concepts from my first psychology class and is probably the most unromantic theory of all. The mere exposure effect, discovered by Robert Zajonc (1968), refers to our tendency to like things that are familiar to us – that is, those things and people that we are exposed to most often.
4. The clone attraction. Do opposites attract, or do birds of a feather flock together? Research suggests that the latter is more often true. People are more attracted to those who are similar to themselves in pretty much every way, ranging from personality to religious beliefs to physical appearance, and more similar couples tend to be happier.
5. The commitment equation. How committed are you to your partner? Research suggests that it depends on three main factors: 1) how invested you are in the relationship (i.e., what you’ve sacrificed/ costs of leaving the relationship), 2) how much you get out of the relationship, and 3) whether there are attractive alternatives.