Shh...we’re not talking about that kind of love triangle. There’s an entirely different love triangle, the secrets of which are far better for a loving, romantic relationship. Robert J. Sternberg, a professor of Human Development at Cornell, investigated the complex dynamics of love with his Triangular Theory of Love, boiling it down to three simple pillars that serve as the base of a strong, lasting romance.
Read about them below and learn a few of our secrets on how to build upon each pillar—because it’s impossible to have too much love in a relationship.
Pillar #1: Intimacy
This is the feeling of connectedness and the close bond lovers share. Intimacy is cuddling up to your partner’s warm embrace and feeling relaxed and protected. It’s what allows you to openly communicate, trust, and love your partner, and it’s why you want to comfort and support your partner through difficult times.
Our Secret: Our most intimate moments often come when we’re most vulnerable and open. Spend an evening in and deepen your connection with endless in-depth questions. Candles, wine, and a moonlit walk on the beach are always a good companion to this exercise.
Pillar #2: Passion
You know this pillar as the tingle up your spine when your lover’s lips meet yours and the quickening of your pulse when you meet your lover’s gaze. This is the heat of your love, the physical chemistry between you and your partner. Often this is the first dimension of love we feel for another person because it’s such a visceral response to the senses.
Our Secret: We know a few things about enhancing romance. Often the best place to start is to set aside all distraction, especially from phones and technology, and go somewhere secluded where you and your lover can focus more on the moment at hand...or mouth, or...well, you can take it from there.
Pillar #3: Commitment
Even though it’s not as romance-novel worthy as passion and intimacy, commitment is the key to maintaining any fulfilling relationship. In his study, Sternberg pairs commitment with decision. It’s a two part process. When you first met your lover and started feeling intimate or...(ahem) engaging passionately with each other, your relationship didn’t begin until you made the decision to be in love. Decision is what got you together, and commitment is what keeps you in love for years to come.
Our Secret: Understanding the deep love you and your partner feel for each other can do wonders for strengthening your commitment to the relationship. What better way to tell them you love them by speaking their love language? If you’re not totally sure what love language you or your lover speak, you can take the quiz.
All three pillars hold up what Sternberg calls consummate, or complete, love. It’s a special love, something to be cherished and nurtured for the years to come. And what better way to celebrate your love with a vacation to paradise, where you can enhance your love triangle with intimate evenings, passionate nights, and relaxing days together, which will have you feeling more committed to each other than ever.