The triangular theory of Thai love

Have you ever wondered what types of love there are and what makes them different, especially in Thailand?

Well, the triangular theory of love provides a framework to understand the different kinds of love we can feel. TNR’s love and sex guest columnist Michelle Sawatdee’s theory infers that love can be categorized into eight different categories, determined by levels of passion, commitment, and intimacy.

If you want to know more about what different kinds of love there are so you can, for example, understand how to take your relationship to the next level, read on !

The faces of the triangle illustrate the love experienced when the components on either side are at play. For example, intimacy and passion with no commitment will form romantic love.

Consummate love falls in the center of the triangle, and it is seen as the ideal form of love, with passion, intimacy, and commitment all present. This is the kind of love where people feel like they’re best friends and lovers at the same time.


Non-love encapsulates a lack of connection, without any of the components of love existing. This category is also defined by feelings of indifference towards any form of relationship.


The liking category seen at the top of the triangle is an intimate relationship without any passion or commitment. An example of this could be an acquaintance at work.

Empty love

Empty love is best understood in the example of arranged marriages. Typically there is no intimacy or passion in this type of marriage initially, and it is grounded only in long-term commitment.

Similar to most other categories of love, empty love is not a permanent state. An arranged marriage often works out for couples as they begin to feel intimate in time, thus allowing the love to be categorized as companionate.

Romantic love

Romantic love, according to the triangular theory of love, has passion and intimacy without commitment. This type of love could be experienced with a one-night stand or an intense and short romantic affair.

Fatuous love

Infatuated love is commonly understood as ‘puppy love,’ where people feel adoration and almost worshipping affection. Younger people most commonly feel it. Since this form of love alone lacks intimacy, it doesn’t last long. It is present at the beginning of romantic relationships but tends to disappear fast and suddenly if the other components don’t develop.

Companionate love

The love that we share with family members would ideally be companionate love. Family members can feel intimate enough to tell each other anything, and have a powerful sense of commitment and loyalty. This type of love can also be experienced in a platonic friendship. Companionate love is grounded in mutual understanding and care for one another, and it’s imperative for the survival of a relationship. This kind of love takes time, as people need time to learn each other’s needs and wants.

Consummate love

Consummate love is, by this model, the ideal form of love for long-term relationships. This is the type of love that people should strive for in the long run. This is the form of love at play when we consider the ‘perfect couple. ‘However, this type of love is tough to achieve and challenging to maintain. Robert Sternberg concludes that to achieve and maintain this form of love, actions are more important than words.


Passion is almost always based entirely on attraction and sexual desire for one another. This is understood to diminish as other positive forces of the relationship take over. The feelings are brought on by the brain experiencing an increase in specific neurotransmitters, specifically phenylethylamine. Fun fact: this neurotransmitter also increases when we eat chocolate.

Relationships change

These categorizations of the love we experience are not a permanent state. Love can move from one type to another. With this in mind, we may turn an eye to our own relationships or consider how we may attempt to be in relationships in the future.

The triangular theory and our own relationships

Most people in a relationship will likely be experiencing a lack of at least one of the components of passion, intimacy, or commitment. With this in mind, there are plenty of things that can be done to regain any of these components. If there’s passion lacking in a relationship, one way of battling this is by scheduling sex.

Really. It helps couples to consciously make sex a priority. – TNR. 







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