When you ask the question "What is Love?" people will give you many different explanations. Indeed, love is many things for many people. I would like to present the concept of 'Consumate Love' following the 'Triangular Theory of Love' developed by Robert Sternberg. (Find out more about Sternberg on Wikipedia).

Robert Sternberg explains that love exists in interpersonal relationships that are characterised by intimacy (closeness, connectedness, and bondedness), passion (romance, physical attraction, sexual consummation), and by commitment (the decision to remain with each other, share achievements, and make plans together).

The depth of love a person experiences and the survival of a relationship are closely linked to how strong intimacy, passion, and commitment are. Thus love is selective - because you commit to a specific partner and enduring because you make a commitment for the long term. More so, we can't make ourselves love a certain person. Love seems to happen. We form a strong attachment to another person involuntarily without the involvement of 'will'.

Thus love in this respect is about forming close and meaningful attachments in which the partners meet each others need for care, touch, emotional connection, and recognition. In the presence of such deep attachment positive emotions of gratitude and forgiveness can flourish and nurture both partners.

While selfishness is all about me, love in this sense is not selfish but all about the other. The grief we feel when we lose the partner we love is about the other as well as ourselves. In this case we are not able anymore to express actively our love to our partner, and we are not receiving the love from our loved-one.

Indeed, it is the principle of reciprocity that plays a dominant role in love and being loved. You might even say that you have to give away love in order to receive and keep it. "Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage" (G. Vaillant, 2008, Spiritual Evolution).

To maintain being loved and loving another person in this rewarding way requires of people a good understanding of themselves, an understanding of the partner, and finely tuned relationships skills. Many relationships suffer ultimately under the lack of these skills. However, professional assistance can make a significant difference. Get my free mini course to find out how you can improve your relationship skills.

Author's Bio: 

Gudrun Frerichs, PhD is the director and founder of Psychological Resolutions Ltd. Visit her website psychologicalresolutions.co.nz for information about counselling, coaching, psychotherapy, and training courses for professional and personal development. You will find relationship solutions through advanced communication skills. Instead of learning "communication by numbers" you will be taken on a step by step journey to emotional intelligence (self-awareness, self-management, understanding others, and managing others).

Are you struggling with communication in your relationships and would you like to learn about proven and effective steps to a successful navigating your relationship? Click here for a sneak preview.