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Types of Love
romantic love Love What, then, are Sternbergʼs types of love? Probably the most fascinating is romantic
involving strong emotion and love, which involves passion and intimacy but not commitment. Romantic love
having the components of is re¬‚ected in that electrifying yet conditional statement, “I am in love with you.”
passion and intimacy but not
Compare this with the expression re¬‚ecting consummate love, “I love you.” Romantic
love can be found around the world and throughout history. It is most likely to be ¬rst
experienced by members of diverse ethnic groups in late adolescence or early adulthood
(Regan, Durvasula, Howell, Ureno, & Rea, 2004). Additionally, concepts of romantic
love are almost universally positive with characteristics such as trust and ful¬lling
emotional needs. One of the only negative characteristics that emerged as a “peripheral
characteristic” was jealousy (Regan, Kocan, & Whitlock, 1998).
Romantic love doesnʼt necessarily mean marriage, however, for two main reasons.
First, whereas marriage is almost universally heterosexual, romantic love need not be.
Second, it is still an alien idea in most cultures that romance has anything to do with
the choice of a spouse. Even in our own culture, the appeal of marrying for love seems
to have increased among women in recent years, perhaps because womenʼs roles have
changed, and they no longer have so great a need to ¬nd a “good provider” (Berscheid,
Snyder, & Omoto, 1989).
The importance of passion in romantic love is clear. Romantic lovers live in a pool of
emotions, both positive and negative”sexual desire, fear, exultation, anger”all experi-
enced in a state of high arousal. Intense sexual desire and physical arousal are the prime
forces driving romantic love (Berscheid, 1988). A recent study con¬rms the physical
arousal aspect of romantic love (Enzo et al., 2006). In this study individuals who had
recently fallen in love were compared to single individuals and individuals in a long-
term relationship. Enzo et al. found that the “in“love” participants showed higher levels
of nerve growth factor (NGF) in their blood than single individuals or those involved in
a long-term relationship. Interestingly, those “in-love” couples showed a drop in NGF
if they remained together for 12 to 14 months. In fact, their blood levels of NGF were
comparable to those who were in long-term relationships”perhaps providing evidence
for the old adage that romance (passion) burns hot, but burns fast.
As noted, romantic love and sexual desire are likely to be seen as going together
and being inseparable. This may be true in some cases. However, there is evidence
that romantic love and sexual desire are two separate entities that can be experienced
separately (Diamond, 2004). It is possible to experience the passion of romantic
love without experiencing sexual desire. There may even be different physiological
underpinnings to the two experiences (Diamond, 2004). For example, hormones
associated with strong sexual desire have nothing to do with the intense bond experienced
in romantic love (Diamond, 2003). Physiological mechanisms underlying the formation
Chapter 9 Interpersonal Attraction and Close Relationships 323

of strong attachments are more closely associated with activity involving naturally
occurring opioids in the brain (Diamond, 2004).
Tennov (1979) distinguished a particular type of romantic love, which she called
limerence and characterized as occurring when “you suddenly feel a sparkle (a lovely
word) of interest in someone else, an interest fed by the image of returned feeling”
(p. 27). Limerence is not driven solely or even primarily by sexual desire. It occurs
when a person anxious for intimacy ¬nds someone who seems able to ful¬ll all of his
or her needs and desires. For limerent lovers, all the happiness one could ever hope for
is embodied in the loved one. Indeed, one emotional consequence of limerent love is a
terror that all hope will be lost if the lover leaves us (Brehm, 1988).
Consummate love combines all three vertices of loveʼs triangle: passion, intimacy, consummate love Love
that includes all three
and commitment. These couples have it all; they are able to maintain their passion and
components: passion,
intimacy along with a commitment to a lifetime together.
intimacy, and commitment.
Although we may fantasize about romantic love and view consummate love as a
long-term ideal, other types of love can also bring happiness. Many couples are perfectly
happy with companionate love, which has little or no passion but is infused with intimacy
and commitment. Such partners are “friends for life” and generally have great trust in and
tolerance for each other. Although they may regret the lack of passion, they are pragmatic
and are able to live happily within the rules or limits of the relationship (Duck, 1983).

Unrequited Love
A special and very painful kind of infatuated love is love that is unful¬lled. Unrequited unrequited love Love
expressed by one person that
love occurs when we fall deeply and passionately in love and that love is rejected.
is rejected and not returned by
Almost all of us have had some experience with unrequited love. In one study, 98% of
the other.
the subjects had been rejected by someone they loved intensely (Baumeister, Wotman,
& Stillwell, 1993).
What makes unrequited love so painful is that both individuals feel victimized (Aron,
Aron, & Allen, 1998). Very often, unrequited love ostensibly starts as a platonic friend-
ship, but then one of the individuals admits that it was never just friendship, that he or
she was always secretly in love with the other (Baumeister et al., 1993). In many cases,
the object of the unrequited love is often unable to express lack of interest in terms that
are suf¬ciently discouraging. The unrequited lover takes anything as encouragement,
sustains hope, and then ¬nds the ¬nal rejection devastating. The object of unwanted
love, after the initial boost to the ego, feels bewildered, guilty, and angry.
In a typical case of spurned love, a college woman took pity on a young man
whom no one liked, and one night invited him to join her and some friends in a game
of Parcheesi. He thought the invitation signaled something more than she intended.
Much to her horror, he began to follow her around and told her how much he loved
her. She wanted this to stop, but she was unable to tell him how upset she was, because
she was afraid of hurting his feelings. He interpreted her silence as encouragement and
persisted (Baumeister et al., 1993).
Men are more likely than women to experience unrequited love (Aron et al., 1998).
This is because men are more beguiled by physical attractiveness than are women. Men
tend to fall in love with someone more desirable than they are. Interestingly, people
report that they have been the object of unrequited love twice as many times as they
have been rejected by another. We prefer to believe that we have been loved in vain
rather than having loved in vain.
Unrequited love is viewed differently depending on oneʼs perspective: pursuer
or pursued. In one study those being pursued reported being the recipients of more
unwanted courtship tactics, both violent and nonviolent, than they say they used as
Social Psychology

a pursuer (Sinclair & Frieze, 2005). Some interesting gender differences emerged in
this study. For example, men tended to overestimate the extent to which their romantic
advances were reciprocated. Women, on the other hand, were more likely than men to
report multiple attempts to clearly reject unwanted advances.

Secret Love
If unrequited love is the most painful kind of love, then secret love may be the most
exciting. In this form of love, individuals have strong passion for one another, but cannot
or will not make those feelings publicly known. Secrecy seems to increase the attraction
of a relationship. Researchers have found that people continued to think more about
past relationships that had been secret than about those that had been open (Wegner,
Lane, & Dimitri, 1994). In fact, many individuals were still very much preoccupied
with long-past secret relationships. In a study of secrecy and attraction, subjects paired
as couples were induced to play “footsie” under the table while they were involved in a
card game with another couple (Wegner et al., 1994). The researchers found that when
the under-the-table game was played in secret, participants reported greater attraction
for the other person than when it was not played in secret.
Why does secrecy create this strong attraction? Perhaps it is because individuals
involved in a secret relationship think constantly and obsessively about each other. After
all, they have to expend a lot of energy in maintaining the relationship. They have to
¬gure out how to meet, how to call each other so that others wonʼt know, and how to
act neutrally in public to disguise their true relationship. Secrecy creates strong bonds
between individuals; it can also be the downfall of ongoing relationships. The sudden
revelation of a secret in¬delity will often crush an ongoing relationship and further
enhance the secret one (Wegner et al., 1994).

The Formation of Intimate Relationships
The habits of the heart may be shaped by our earliest relationships. Developmental psy-
chologists have noted that infants form attachments with their parents or primary care-
givers based on the kinds of interactions they have (Ainsworth, 1992). These patterns
working model Mental of attachment, or attachment styles, evolve into working models, mental representa-
representations of what an tions of what the individual expects to happen in close relationships (Shaver, Hazan, &
individual expects to happen Bradshaw, 1988). Working models are carried forth from relationship to relationship
in close relationships.
(Brumbaugh & Fraley, 2006). So, attachment patterns we use in one relationship are
likely to be transferred to subsequent relationships. Attachment theory suggests that
attachment styles developed in early childhood govern the way individuals form and
maintain close relationships in adulthood. Three attachment styles have been identi-
¬ed: secure, anxious/ambivalent, and avoidant. Statements describing each style are
shown in Table 9.2.
Attachment styles relate to how relationships are perceived and how successful
they are. According to research, people who identi¬ed their attachment style as secure
characterized their lovers as happy, friendly, and trusting and said that they and their
partner were tolerant of each otherʼs faults (Shaver et al., 1988). Avoidant lovers were
afraid of intimacy, experienced roller-coaster emotional swings, and were constantly
jealous. Anxious/ambivalent lovers experienced extreme sexual attraction coupled with
extreme jealousy. Love is very intense for anxious lovers, because they strive to merge
totally with their mate; anything less increases their anxiety. This experience of love for
anxious lovers is a strong desire for union and a powerful intensity of sexual attraction
Chapter 9 Interpersonal Attraction and Close Relationships 325

Table 9.2 Attachment Styles

Answers and Percentages
Newspaper University
Sample Sample
I ¬nd it relatively easy to get close to others and am
comfortable depending on them and having them depend
on me. I don™t worry about being abandoned or about
someone getting too close to me. 56% 56%

I am somewhat uncomfortable being close to others; I ¬nd it
dif¬cult to trust them completely, dif¬cult to allow myself to
depend on them. I am nervous when anyone gets too close,
and often, love partners want me to be more intimate than
I feel comfortable about. 25% 23%

I ¬nd that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like.
I often worry that my partner doesn™t really love me or won™t
want to stay with me. I want to merge completely with another
person, and this desire sometimes scares people away. 19% 20%

From Shaver, Hazan, and Bradshaw (1988).

and jealousy. It is no accident that anxious lovers, more than any other style, report love
at ¬rst sight (Shaver et al., 1988). Interestingly, the relationship between attachment
style and relationship quality found with white samples applies to Spanish individuals
as well (Monetoliva & Garcia-Martinez, 2005). In this study, a secure attachment was
associated with positive relationship experiences. Anxious and avoidant attachments
were associated with more negative relationship outcomes.
Given the working model of a partner and the expectations that anxious lovers have,
it will not come as a surprise to you that individuals with this style tend to have rather
turbulent relationships (Simpson, Ickes, & Grich, 1999). Research shows that anxious/
ambivalents have relationships that are ¬lled with strong con¬‚icts. One reason for this,
apparently, is that anxious/ambivalent individuals have empathic accuracy, the ability
to correctly infer their partnerʼs thoughts and feelings. Because of this ability, they
are more threatened than are other individuals and feel much more anxious (Simpson
et al., 1999). This is a case of knowing too much or, at least, placing too much emphasis
on their partnersʼ present moods and feelings that may or may not tell where the rela-
tionship is going. As you might imagine, Simpson and colleagues found that of all the
couples they studied, the highly anxious/ambivalent partners were much more likely
to have broken up within months. Finally, males and females with an anxious attach-
ment react to hypothetical transgressions of their partners quite negatively. Typical
responses included high levels of emotional stress, attribution patterns that are damag-
ing to the relationship, and behaviors that escalate con¬‚ict (Collins, Ford, Guichard,
& Allard, 2006).
Social Psychology

Attachment Styles and Adult Love Relationships
Fraley and Shaver (1998) showed that the ways in which we respond to our earliest
caregivers may indeed last a lifetime and are used when we enter adult romantic rela-
tionships. Where better to observe how adult individuals respond to the potential loss
of attachment than at an airport? The researchers had observers take careful notes on
the behavior of couples when one of the members was departing. After the departure,
the remaining member of the couple was asked to complete a questionnaire determin-
ing his or her attachment style.
Those with an anxious working model showed the greatest distress at the impend-
ing separation and tended to engage in actions designed to delay or stop the departure,
although in reality that was not going to happen. The anxious individuals would hold
on to, follow, and search for their partner, not unlike a child would for a parent under
similar circumstances. So attachment styles tend to be engaged particularly when there
is threat (departure in this case) to the relationship. The effects seemed stronger for
women than for men (Fraley & Shaver, 1998).
It is quite likely that the behavior of those airport visitors with an anxious working
model was determined in great part by the level of trust they had in their partners.
Mikulincer (1998) examined the association between adult attachment style and
feelings of trust in close relationships. The results of this research suggest that those
with a secure working model showed and felt more trust in their partners, and even
when trust was violated, secure individuals found a constructive way to deal with it.
For secure individuals, the main goal of the relationship was to maintain or increase
In contrast, anxious working model individuals, although also desiring greater
intimacy, were very concerned with achieving a greater sense of security in their
relationships. Avoidant individuals wanted more control. But clearly, level of trust
differs signi¬cantly among the three types of attachment styles. Anxious-style indi-
viduals continually have their sense of trust undermined, because they tend to fail at
relationships. Sometimes, these individuals try to start relationships that are bound
to fail. As you might suspect, the likelihood of someone falling in love with another
who does not love them in return is dependent on oneʼs attachment style. Arthur
and Elaine Aron found that individuals with an anxious attachment style were more
likely to have experienced unreciprocated love (Aron et al., 1998). Secure individu-
als had been successful in the past in establishing relationships, and avoidants were
unlikely to fall in love at all. Anxious individuals place great value in establishing a
relationship with someone who is very desirable but are unlikely to be able to do so.
They tend to fail at close relationships and, therefore, they should experience more
incidents of unrequited love; indeed, that is exactly what the research ¬ndings show
(Aron et al., 1998).
Are attachment styles a factor in long-term relationships? A study of 322 young
married couples, all under age 30, found a tendency for those with similar attach-
ment styles to marry one another (Senchak & Leonard, 1992). Attachment style is
not destiny, however, as shown by the observation that people may display different
attachment styles in different relationships (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991). None
of these ¬ndings, however, come from long-term studies on the effects of attach-
ment styles beyond childhood. Longitudinal research that follows individuals from
infancy at least until early adulthood would give us more de¬nitive information about
whether early attachment styles really in¬‚uence the way we respond in adult love
Chapter 9 Interpersonal Attraction and Close Relationships 327

Determinants of Interpersonal Attraction
What determines why we are attracted to some individuals but not others? Social psy-
chologists have developed a number of models addressing this question. Some speci¬c
factors identi¬ed by these models that play a role in attraction are physical proximity,
similarity, and physical attractiveness.

Physical Proximity: Being in the Right Place
How did you and your best friend ¬rst meet? Most likely, you met because you hap-


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