All You Need is Love...But What Kind of Love? Simplifying Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love

Posted by tonyoverbay

In English, we use the word love to describe a variety of emotional states. Are we talking about passionate love, intimate love, committed love, unconditional love or do you tell somebody that you love them simply as a term of endearment? Some people grew up hearing “I love you” on a daily basis in their family, while others are still waiting for the day that their parent may finally utter those three simple words that they have been craving since childhood. Tony talks about Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love, and how not only our interpretation of the word, or concept of love, as well as how we put “love” into action can go a long way in describing our relationships...from where they are now, to what you may long for. (Tony refers to the article https://www.elitesingles.com/mag/relationship-advice/consummate-love throughout the episode).

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Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

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[00:00:00] So I've shared on many, many occasions that I spent 10 years in the computer industry before I went back to school and got my master's in counseling, which started me on the journey to where I am today. And while I can't even imagine what would have happened if I hadn't changed careers almost 20 years ago now I'll admit that they were some fun times in the computer industry. Sometimes I feel like I make it sound like it was all horrible, but I got to travel and I traveled a ton. I traveled the world literally. I know I went to Japan over 30 times and I went all throughout Europe and China and Russia and back and forth across the United States more than I would even care to count. And there were some good stories that went along with that, too. I had an experience once in the world renowned Japanese fish market where the sushi was so incredibly fresh that once, while I wasn't really paying much attention as it was being handed to me, I was handed a piece that when I brought it up to my mouth, part of it, and I don't know if it was the tail or something moved, smacked my hand and I a screamed and then I b threw it across the room, which was much to the delight of my host, Mr.

[00:01:02] Yoshida san, and the dozens and dozens of guests in the restaurant. Or there was a time where I was staying in a hotel in Southern California and committedly, clad only in my underwear bottoms. I looked out of my room through the little people, only to see that I was lacking my my USA Today newspaper. And at the time that was a big deal. But the room across from me had one and I had to go to the bathroom. So I decided quite impulsively to just run across the hallway. I was going to borrow my neighbors and I'm pretty sure that my plan was that I would return that newspaper across the hall when I was done taking care of business. So as I made my way across the hallway, it really did hit me just as I heard my door slam closed that I forgot the key. So I hung out in the hallway for about ten minutes or so, probably longer in my underwear bottoms, waiting for somebody to come up and unlock my room. And yes, it was that time of the morning where plenty of people were walking up and down the hallway. And to say it was awkward was quite, quite an understatement. But today's episode and if you've read in the title, it's about love. So how does that come up? It brings another story to mind.

[00:02:04] We had a small tech support team for the software company that I worked for. And in our early days, we were all in the same open room. And one day our newbie tech support guy, Jason, nice guy, was on the phone. He was doing tech support. And my buddy Jim, who is one of the funniest guys I know to this day, and he actually hosts his own podcast called The Sad Dads Club. Jim and I were talking to each other and I don't remember what we were talking about. And Jason, who is just nearby, wraps up a call and he just tells the customer something. Thanks for calling and goodbye. And I wish I knew for sure if it was Jim or if it was me who initiated this first. One of us said to Jason, Hey, just tell that guy that you love him. And right on cue, the other one of us said, I was seriously going to say that. I was going to say the same thing. And Jason just immediately said, no, I didn't. There's no way I did. And Jim and I went all in and we had Jason convinced that he had told this customer that he loved them and that it must be because he says it so reflexively to his wife. And we even had to the point where Jason was picking up the phone and he was going to call the customer and apologize, which we thought, OK, that's that's maybe going a little too far, to which we were then saying, hey, Jason, you can slow your roll there, buddy.

[00:03:08] We can work that into our marketing. How much we literally love our customers to the point where after each and every phone call, we can tell a customer that we really do love you. And we eventually let Jason off the hook. But we went on to play that scenario out with literally each and every new tech support person that we employed for years. And every time it was just as funny. But what's so wrong with telling somebody that you love them? The concept, the idea, the definition, the meaning of love is something that gets brought up on a daily basis. In my office and in preparation for this episode, I did. I kept track. I kept a little tab open on my iPad as I took notes just over the past week. And here are some of the things that I heard that had to do with love. The and I hear this one fairly often. I like him, but I'm not really I'm no longer in love with him or another one where the person was saying, my dad's literally never said he loved me.

[00:03:58] So I have stop saying it to him because it makes me feel horrible putting it out there, not hearing it back or one where it's a new relationship. And my client was saying you were both dancing around it. Who is going to say that they love the other person first and one dad? He said, I refuse not to tell my sons that I love them because my dad never told me that he loved me. But each and every time it still just feels so forced or so awkward. And there was another spouse talking about the grief of losing their partner. And one of these moments where it just is, you just feel so much in the moment. They said I'd give anything to be able to tell my spouse how much I really love them now that they're gone in particular. So love, I have wanted to do an episode on the concept from a psychological angle for a long time. And today we're going to take a look at Robert Sternberg's triangular theory of love. Sounds a little nerdy, but I promise you this one is going to deliver. It's a wonderful way to give words and meaning to the various types of love that we experience in our lives. So. We going to cover that and so much more on today's episode of The Virtual Couch.

[00:05:18] Come on in, take a seat on.

[00:05:25] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode two hundred and seventy seven of the virtual couch. I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, a certified mind blabbered coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four, ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back, which is a very incredible strength based. Hold the shame, become the person that you always wanted to be program to help you put pornography in your rearview mirror once and for all of you. Turn to that as a coping mechanism. Again, incredibly strength based. We're doing things here that that help people that change lives and make people feel better about themselves and and get them more engaged in their parenting and their fatherhood and their faith and their in their health and their career, all those things. So if you're interested, go take a look at Pathbackrecovery.com and you can download a short ebook that describes five myths that people fall prey to and trying to put pornography in the rearview mirror once and for all. Again, that's Pathbackrecovery.com. And head over to to Tony Overbay, dot com magnetic because the magnetic marriage the next round is coming up soon. It's coming up a couple, two, three weeks into August. And so I would love to get you on the wait list and I'll let you know more about that as it as it comes up. Go to Instagram and just follow a virtual couch there. That's where you start to find a whole lot more about all kinds of fun things that are going on.

[00:06:32] And I got a lot of positive feedback. I posted on my Instagram stories of my time in Utah filming the episode of Family Rules last week. And everything about that experience was top notch. It was incredible. It was wonderful. What a what a professional production and amazing people and a huge crew behind the scenes and all of those sort of things. And so I'm going to I'm going to put together a post about that, too, because I took a lot of pictures and video, everything from get my covid test to my hair and makeup person, which is hilarious when you're bald guy. But boy, they make you feel special to just all the things that went on behind the scenes of the family rules. And it was so much fun. So I'll talk more about that on Instagram. And let's let's get to this episode today, because love before using this Sternbergh model is my guy. I had a lot of notes and one of the directions that I was going to go was breaking down. The Greek versions are the definitions of love. So if you're not familiar with where we're going to go with this today, is there are a lot of times where people talk about that they love somebody. And what does that mean? And when you're talking about love, especially when I'm working with couples, there can be two different versions of love. People could have grown up with a concept of romantic love or people could have grown up with more of a concept of this sexual passion or playful love or this unconditional love.

[00:07:49] But we and those of us who speak English, we have one word. It is love. And that's so it just can mean so many different things. So when you're talking about even trying to get a couple on the same page and they'll even say, Don't you love me anymore? It can be. Well, I do, but it's a different version or type of love than maybe you you think that it is. And sometimes when people feel hurt, especially, they're saying, well, love is love and it's because that's their version of love. So this Greek version, for example, and I'll just tell you a little bit about this and we'll get on to Sternberg's theory here. But in Greek love, there's Eros, which is the sexual passion. So a lot of times we feel like that is the someone needs to feel this eros in order to have a this deep, passionate connection with somebody. There's a filia, which is deep friendship and fun fact. Philadelphia, that's where the derivative of that word. There's there's saludos or playful love. And so you can have just this kind of like playful banter with someone. And it would be this Lutece type of love. There's a gap, which is this love for everyone, and that can be this almost unconditional love, love of mankind, love of the universe, love of all.

[00:08:57] There's pragma, which is longstanding love and pragma can be one of these things where people have just been together for so long that they just feel this pragma. And you guess what's one of the words that comes from that pragmatic. And then there's Felicia, which is love of the self. So that can be self love and which can be a part of self care and all those wonderful things. Renowned psychologist Robert Sternberg first put forward his what he calls this triangular theory of love in nineteen eighty five. And this is based off of a lot of research that he did at Yale University. And his theory, what it's doing is it seeks to define these different elements of our relationships are interpersonal relationships and to show how these different elements of a relationship can combine to form seven variations or seven types of what we call love. And so his theory is pretty straightforward when you look at it from the start, because it starts with three main components that he says lie at the heart of most all human relationships. And those three components are passion, commitment and intimacy. Now, if you take those individually, what Sternberg said is these components form the three simplest forms of love, passion. And we'll get a little bit more into this here as we go along. But passion alone, if you only have passion, the passionate kind of love that may bring forth infatuation.

[00:10:16] And Sternberg says if you only have intimacy, intimacy alone equates to liking. And then if you only have commitment, commit. That alone by itself can mean empty love, and so you can see we could go a lot of directions right there, that some relationships, if they only have infatuation, then that is going to fit. This passion is going to bring only infatuation. Intimacy is a lot of times where one person feels like we are we are sharing the most intimate details. And so if one person is getting their cup filled, just being able to express themselves and share, they may feel like that intimate connection or that intimate love alone is enough. But if someone else is coming from this place where they want that passion, then you can start to see how we're even speaking different languages of the word love and then commitment alone, as according to Sternbergh, can feel like empty love. So sometimes we that we just have this commitment to each other. Is that part where we feel like we're roommates or it's this just we're in it for the long haul. So where this really becomes fascinating is the triangular part of the theory, because that comes from the fact that you can combine any two of these components to then form a more complex type of love and then each combination forms. It forms a different side of this triangle, this love triangle. So when you have a relationship that combines, for example, passion and intimacy, then you get romantic love or intimacy.

[00:11:39] Plus commitment can give you what he calls companionate love while fatuous love is born, where commitment meets passion. And he said, and then there's consummate love, which is the combination of all three components. And it's often seen as this this perfect or ideal form of love. Because when you mix this fire of the comfort of intimacy and the security of commitment, then you have this healthy, happy, long lasting, romantic, love filled relationship. And it's so important to note that this triangle does not have to be this. I was never good at geometry. Does it have to be this equilateral shape? Because usually these components present themselves in different times, different seasons, in different levels. Again, it isn't all sides don't have to be equal. But what you're really trying to focus on are what really matters is that each relationship has some of all three of these components. And and I'll try to put this up on the website when I when I released this part of the episode. But again, consummate love is where passion and intimacy and commitment all meet. So let's go in detail here of these seven types of love, according to Sternbergh. So in this triangular theory of love, it says that you can it can take a number of these forms and each one of them are made up of one or more of the love components. So what it terms like romantic love or companionate love or consummate love actually mean.

[00:13:01] So here's those seven types. The first one we'll talk about infatuation, which is passion. So passion is a love component that so many of us are familiar with. This is the one you see in movies and TV shows. It's responsible for. When I just feel something, I just feel this connection with somebody. That's where your heart rate elevate. So you feel like with kittens in your stomach or your stomach turns over or that feeling of love at first sight. And so, of course, if it is just passion alone, then there's there's really not that deeper connection that comes with something like intimacy or the steadfastness that comes with commitment. So what you end up with, if you are only if you are only looking at this passion, if that is all we're talking about, then the best description for passion on its own is infatuation. So a lot of times I have people come up to me and they say that they don't feel that passion for someone or they don't feel like that they're their heart beating wildly or the flip flop in the stomach. And I love letting people know that I feel like maybe movies, TV shows, those things. I've almost done us a disservice because I feel like not as many people as we think immediately feel this passion, this passion for someone else as far as love goes. So passion or again, this infatuation.

[00:14:14] So the second type of love is what he calls it is intimacy. So next up, unlike passion, intimacy can be a solely platonic feeling. It's that sense of familiarity. It's that sense of friendship that comes when you meet someone and you really get along with them, somebody that you really feel immediately you can be your true self with. You can talk about things for four days and you don't run out of things to talk about. And it is an amazing it is a wonderful component to have in romantic relationships. But if it is the only thing that a relationship is based on, if it's on its own without passion or without commitment, then it's more likely to result in a friendship. Or as the triangular theory of love puts it, Aliki again. Right now, we've already had a we've had this concept of passion, which passion on its own is infatuation. Then we've got intimacy and intimacy on its own is more of a liking. And then the third component is commitment and we have commitment. So the active steps taken to preserve a relationship, the commitment is this essential part of any lasting love. But when you have commitment in on its own and it's missing. Are devoid of intimacy and passion, then it's a part of that it can feel more like love is a duty than a romantic choice. And oftentimes when a long term relationship has lost all passion and intimacy, then it will hover in what Sternberg says is this empty love stage, oftentimes before ending.

[00:15:42] But as Sternberg points out, love can begin here, too. If you think of things like an arranged marriage, for instance, the commitment often comes first. And I have worked with clients where they have settled into this commitment or this empty love and then from their rebuilt that basis of intimacy, which then can oftentimes eventually lead to passion. So Sternberg says, as passion and intimacy and commitment are the simplest components of the triangular theory of love, relationships again that only have one of these three points tend to be more. He calls them basic as well. But where the the beauty comes is when you combine these components, it gets more complicated, but it also gets more interesting. And I'll just make a quick note right now. One of the most downloaded episodes I've done on the virtual couch over the last four to five years has been this almost like this latter concept of intimacy. And it was something that I learned when I was doing betrayal trauma training under Dr. Kevin Skinner, that he had a part, I think it was in one of his CDs. I mean, it goes back a long time and this data around these levels of intimacy. And in that one, he talks about the the concept of there's this psychological intimacy that underlies all things, this honesty, loyalty, trust and commitment. But then right above that, when we meet somebody, we really want to start with verbal intimacy.

[00:17:03] And so being able to just talk and communicate with somebody and when that feels easy or when it feels like that part is complete, then oftentimes we move up into this emotional intimacy and we can share and be more open with somebody above that. He said it was cognitive and intellectual intimacy where I often say at that level somebody can be a PhD and somebody can have a GED, but it's OK because they have a verbal connection and emotional connection. So then from a cognitive and intellectual standpoint, they can still approach each other with curiosity because they're building this foundation above that spiritual intimacy. And on the top of that ladder, if you can imagine, that is the physical intimacy and it's this byproduct of these lower levels or not. Are these these these levels of intimacy that then build upon each other? So I know that a lot of the clients that I talk with and a lot of people that listen to my podcast are familiar with that concept. So I feel like if you're coming at this triangular theory of love, a lot of this will will make sense or fit into that model as well. So let's talk about then when you start to combine commitment, intimacy and passion. And again, those are the parts of the that triangle. Those are the corners. And a fat infatuation on its own or passion on its own can lead to more infatuation and intimacy on its own, Sternberg said, leads to more of a concept of liking and commitment on its own can lead to more of this concept of what he calls an empty love.

[00:18:26] So let's talk about he calls it fatuous love, which is commitment plus passion. So when you combine the fire of passionate infatuation and then the bonds of commitment but don't intimately like who the other person is, he said, you get this fatuous love world. He talks about whirlwind celebrity marriages or the cliched quickie Vegas wedding can often be described as fatuous love and it can be ardent and committed connection. But it's built without a lot of substance behind it. So it's like we are committed and we are passionate, but we don't really feel a connection. We don't really feel a liking, so to speak. So the lack of intimacy means that when passion mellows, then such relationships are often difficult to sustain because when that that fiery passion comes down, but we feel like we have this commitment only then we're lacking this intimacy or this deeper connection. He says it also, depending on the level of commitment involved, it can really be tricky to dissolve a relationship like this as well. So that's fatuous love, which is commitment plus passion. Next up, we have romantic love, which is passion plus intimacy. So in romantic love, the intimacy component brings this meeting of the minds. And while the passionate component means that there's this physical attraction as well.

[00:19:40] So he says as glorious as this combination is, you have this lack of commitment, which means that romantic love is very much focused on the now rather than the future. So it means it's often even seen in the giddy early phases of romance or that time when you're learning all about each other. That's that intimacy that we're connecting. But we still have that passion as well, where we just have this strong desire for each other. And so at that moment, we're learning all about each other, loving what you discover. But he said before your lives and loyalties are fully merged. So then with the addition of commitment which can come with the children or jobs or mortgages or that sort of thing, he said that this can blossom into what he calls consummate love. So without it, it's more likely to. Be the stuff of he calls it Tim, Tim, Tim, tempestuous romance novels, so we have passion and we have intimacy and it equals romantic love, but we don't have that commitment piece. So next up, he calls companionate love, which is intimacy plus commitment. So he says that the other end of the drama scale, the romantic love, is this concept called companionate love. So when combined commitment and intimacy make these powerful emotional bonds, meaning that the companionate connection is stronger than a simple friendship. Or again, you've got intimacy, you can connect with each other and you've got commitment.

[00:20:58] We are in this for the long haul, but we lack that passion. So he is. Sternbergh says the lack of passion means that this is often quite a chaste, comfortable arrangement. Some people call this roommate syndrome. This is the sort of thing that might happen after years of familiarity. And according to Sternbergh Sternberg, this isn't the death knell for love. In fact, he says this mellow phase is a common part of the relationship progression. And kind of just talking about this on the fly. I feel like a lot of the couples that are coming to my magnetic marriage course have this version of love, this companionate love, where there's some intimacy, where they've connected on a lot of things. They have a lot of memories. They have a lot of shared experiences. And they have this commitment, whether it's because of their religious beliefs or whether it's because of their own views on divorce, that they have this companionate love, intimacy plus commitment, but they are lacking the passion. Sternbergh Vince says that the six types of love that we just went over can be seen at the heart of many different types of relationships, from platonic friendships to whirlwind love affairs. And there's nothing inherently wrong with any of these set ups, of course. But the true fact is that most relationships will pass through one or more of these phases as time goes by. And so it can be possible to be very happy within one of these phases.

[00:22:13] Or it can also be where one can feel like things feel stagnant or they feel stuck. So the triangular theory of love, so that there is one thing that these types can't be and that is ideal, true love, because ideal, true love requires the presence of all three of these components. So what's the goal of the triangular theory of love? Again, this consummate love, which is the passion plus the intimacy, plus the commitment. Sternberg said that when passion, intimacy and commitment are all present in a relationship and the result is consummate love, and these three components don't have to be present in equal measure. This was that part where all sides of the triangle are not equal. But the ideal form of love needs to at least have an element of each one of these things in them, the excitement of passion. Think about that. Do you have the excitement of passion in your relationship? Do you feel like you can be spontaneous? And even if you are not someone who is a spontaneous person, sometimes that spontaneity can bring this passion? Or do you have curiosity in your relationship? So often I feel like that is missing or because people have fallen into such patterns where they feel like if they even express curiosity, they're met with or why do you care or what's your angle? If a partner says, hey, I noticed that you have been reading a lot of articles about something we'll talk about.

[00:23:31] Lately, there's been a lot about noticing that you're reading a lot about something political or something about the economy. Tell me more about that. And if their spouse meets that with OK, I don't get it. What's your point? Why do you care those kind of things? And I get it because a lot of times people don't necessarily feel safe in opening up about things that they appreciate or enjoy or they're curious about because of previous experiences that they've had where their spouses maybe not been the most welcoming with with information or questions. So you can see that if there isn't that curiosity, that oftentimes then that is where people can't even communicate with each other. Had the excitement of passion, the comfort of intimacy and the team spirit of commitment are all needed to get to this ideal of a consummate version of love. So how do you know if you're in consummate love? Then if it's been years and you really can't see yourselves happier with other partners, if you're still enjoying sex or physical affection with each other, and if you're still both putting in the time to communicate and commit to each other, then chances are you've reached some some form of this consummate stage and it may not last forever. Sternberg said one of the caveats of the triangular theory of love is that relationships can move from one point to another over time, but it's something that can be worked toward or you can work to recover it.

[00:24:48] And Sternberg says it is absolutely worth working for. That consummate love is a special type of bliss. It's the kind of connection that these couples continue to adore each other long into their relationship, long into their partnership. And as Sternbergh said, who wouldn't want that? So back to here's what I tell myself. I always seem to be as authentic and open as possible. I know I was starting to talk about people that are coming to the magnetic marriage course that I lost track of my thought. So I feel like what I see a lot of times are people that are coming to the course and they they typically have something like intimacy. They can open up a little bit and they have commitment, but maybe they've lacked the passion or they have the passion and they have the commitment, but they lack the intimacy or they lack that ability to communicate or recognize each other's differences. If you've been following a lot of the episodes I've been doing as of late, there's a lot of buildup toward this concept of I want you to be able to communicate effectively. That's why I have these four pillars of a connected conversation. And I want you to recognize that you're two different, unique individuals, each of you bringing your own experiences into a relationship and that the goal is to be differentiated where one person ends, the other begins. And too often we are so codependent and enmeshed that when we even start to express some of our independence, it brings anxiety from our spouse, from our partner.

[00:26:08] And so oftentimes they will say things that will feel invalidating. They'll say things like, I didn't know you thought that man was, what do you do next? Then all of a sudden leave the relationship. And so oftentimes that's what keeps people feeling more this codependent, enmeshed relationship. But the goal is to become interdependent, not codependent, interdependent, differentiated people. Each one of you bringing your own experiences to the relationship. And when you have that type of a relationship, then naturally you have this curiosity because you're two different individuals going through life together. And that is the best way to manage thoughts, emotions, feelings, as Sue Johnson, founder of VDT, says were designed to deal with with emotion in concert with another human being. But we can't do that. This is me saying this now. You can't do that if you are trying to control how the other person expresses themselves or if you don't feel like you can even express yourself without being met with with any type of fixing or judgment statements. Now, it's natural for us to respond that way. It takes actual work and effort to be able to develop the tools, to be able to stay present, to say tell me more, to not react to something that someone else says. I have so many of these experiences that I've been writing down lately, experiences that have been happening with that.

[00:27:25] I've been noting with my wife and I and I'll tell you about one that that happened. We were on a trip watching our son play basketball. He's a real wonderful basketball player. And this summer was before his senior year. So we we're out there doing the the tournaments and he's being recruited and scouted, that sort of thing. So we are actually in Alabama a couple of weeks ago for a tournament and we're staying at a hotel and it's in Alabama. It's muggy, it's hot. And we brought our dog. That's a whole I need a whole episode on that. We aren't people that typically bring a dog. We have this five month old puppy. It's a Yorkie Maltese poodle, Yorkie multiple. It's the funnest puppy in the world. Again, I have some I put some things, I think, on Instagram about it. Her name is Olive and she's amazing. And we didn't want to board her, so we brought her on the plane. She was an amazing companion. I can't lie. But, man, you got to walk her all the time. She gets feisty in the hotel room. So we go out on this walk. And where we were at in Alabama, it's a hot Alabama night. It's muggy, there's humidity. The bugs are so loud. We even recorded just how loud the bugs were. And we're just we're just out on this walk. We're walking alone. And there's not a sidewalk outside of our hotel, but there's this grass median in between the two lanes of the road.

[00:28:36] So in order to get walk away from our hotel, we're on a grass median. And my wife says very clearly, and I don't like walking on this grass median. And I said, I hear you. This is it is awkward. It's it's not very comfortable because the cars are buzzing by. It's late at night. So we made it eventually down to some sort of strip mall. We walked around it. And so now we're going to head back and I'm aware of this grass median in front of us. And so I know that there's a looks like there's some parking lots we can go through these business complexes to our right. So without expressing anything, I press the button and we cross the street and we go through these parking lots. So we walk through the parking lots. We're having a wonderful time, all of us being funny. We're talking about all kinds of things. I love just being places with my wife. And we have this curiosity and we're just talking. Tell me more. What's this like for you? I don't even know the topics we were talking about. And we get to a stretch where there was only a little bit left to go back to our hotel. And the only way there is to walk across one of these grass medians again. So I say, hey, are you OK walking on the median? And she doesn't say anything.

[00:29:38] We cross the street, we're walking on the median. And then as we're we're walking off of this grass median into our hotel parking lot, she says and I love this. I love this about my wife. She says, hey, how do you start a conversation again if there's something that you are really curious about that your partner did that you're struggling with? And I immediately knew, oh, my gosh, I did something bad. My anxious attachment just goes on high alert. And I think I just want to say whatever it is, I didn't mean to do it. Don't worry about it. And it's OK. Everything's fine. But I had to lean in and I and I said, OK, let's let's jump into these four pillars of a connected conversation. I said, you have to assume good intentions that you're the person. So in this case, me wasn't doing something to hurt you. And so I said one of the best ways is to say, hey, tell me more about and then ask the question about what it is that you find interesting, that you think that they maybe did, that you can't believe they did. And so she just said, hey, tell me about walking across the aisle, walking on this median when I shared with you that I didn't want to walk on the median. And I just I was so grateful in that moment that she was willing to express herself, that she was willing to be that.

[00:30:44] And invulnerable. And so then I said, OK, Wendy, we are going to jump into the four pillars of a connected conversation, and I make jokes often that it must be annoying to be married to a therapist. Maybe there's some good in it at times. But I said, all right. So in this one, I said, you have to assume good intentions. And I said, this is so funny that you're we're talking about me. So you have to assume that I didn't wake up in the morning and I thought, oh, boy, if Wendy lets me know that she hates walking on a grass median at any point during the day, what I'm going to do is I'm going to wait for my opportunity and then I'm going to we're going to walk on that grass median. So the so the assumption of good intentions, pillar one allows us to stay present and lean into the to continue the conversation. I said pillar two is you can't put off the message that I don't believe you are. You're wrong. So then question, you know, pillar three is questions before comments saying tell me more about and then pillar four is her staying present. So she can't just say if I express myself, she can't just say, oh, it doesn't really matter. I guess it doesn't matter that I don't like walking on medians or anything because you're going to do whatever you want. So when she had said, all right, tell me more about walking on in the media, and even though I had said don't walk in the median, then I said, man, I am so grateful that you brought this up, because I would rather have this conversation, of course, than have you just feel like I was some complete jerk and that I ignored your feelings.

[00:31:58] That would be that would be so hard. And I said, so I did hear you. And I was so grateful you you had shared with me. You didn't like walking in this meeting. So when we turned around and we were heading back up the hill and I was aware we were about to walk on the median, I said that's when I made the pivot. And I just thought, oh, let's walk through the these parking lots to see if we can make our way back to the hotel. And I was so grateful because she said, OK, yeah, I didn't know that that was this conscious choice you had made because I had expressed that I didn't want to walk on the median. So thank you that I can appreciate that. And she said, but then tell me about when you said, well, you're going to have to walk on the median now. Right. And this is where the gold happened, because in my mind, I really wanted to just say I didn't say that, but I can't put out the message that she's wrong. So if that's what she heard, if she really believes that I said like, OK, well, now you need to walk on the median and that I said it like that.

[00:32:51] Oh, my gosh, what a jerk. I would sound like such a jerk. And so then I had empathy for I said, I'm so grateful you shared that, because if you feel like that's the way I said it or that's the vibe I said it, then that would that would you. I can't imagine how invalidated you must feel. So thank you so much for sharing that. And so then I validated her. I assume the good intentions and what she said, I didn't tell her, that's B.S. you're wrong. And then I ask questions. What was that like for you? And then I didn't go into my bunker. I didn't say, well, I guess it doesn't matter what I say. So I heard her. She felt heard. And then with that information, I was able to stay present and say, OK, again, I so appreciate you sharing that. I feel, ah, I thought I said that. Hey, are you ready to walk on the media now? But again, if you heard, if you felt like it was this negative I don't care about you vibe then that would make so much sense. But in my mind I said, hey, are you ready now. Is it OK if we walk on the media because the media and the grass median is the only way to get back to our hotel through this little stretch other than just walking in the middle of the street or walking over on the side in the trees, bugs and pine cones.

[00:33:53] And I was so grateful, proud of my wife because she said and I appreciate that because she said, I felt like you didn't hear me. I felt like when you walked on the median, I wasn't even thinking about the fact that there wasn't another way to go. So I was so locked into the fact that I felt like so and validated that I wasn't looking at what the the entire experience was about. And so in that scenario, she said, yeah, no, I appreciate that. And I told her that. I said because when I felt like the way I said it was that if she said, hey, you don't remember, I don't want to walk on the median, then I was going to I was perfectly willing to say, all right, let's walk in the road. Let's just be really aware of cars or. All right, let's go check the I'll turn my light of my phone on and let's see if we can walk on over in the little woods or that sort of thing. But I can understand, if she felt like I was not hearing her and invalidating her, how hard that would be. So we ended that conversation. And it can sound so simple, right? It can sound so simple that she could have ignored the whole thing and felt like I was a big jerk and that it doesn't matter what she says or when she brought that up, I could have easily gotten the defendant gone into defense mode and said, oh, I guess it doesn't matter that I that I that I did hear you and that we went this different direction.

[00:35:01] No, we stayed present and we had a connected conversation by using these four pillars of a connected conversation. And so from that point, then we felt more connected at that point. Now we've got the intimacy, which is the connection. I feel like we've got commitment that we are going to continue to try to put things through this framework, this four pillars of a connected conversation framework. And then the hopes, of course, is that that is going to lead to passion. And so that, as Sternberg refers to it, is this concept of consummate love. So I appreciate you spending the time with me today to go through Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love, because it really is fascinating at this these corners we have. But we have passion, we have intimacy and we have commitment and so passion alone. He says his infatuation, intimacy alone is liking, enjoying a platonic feeling and commitment alone can feel like this empty love commitment alone can feel like we're just in this long term relationship, roommates, that sort of thing. And then there's these other versions where you've got passion plus commitment is fatuous love where it can be this cliched quickie Vegas wedding, you got passion.

[00:36:08] Plus intimacy can be this romantic love where in that scenario is glorious, as he says the combination might be. The lack of commitment means that the romantic love is so focused on the right now rather than the future. And so it can be it's almost again this giddy early phase of romance when you're learning about each other. But then when things happen in the relationship, then oftentimes without that commitment, the relationship can struggle. And finally, there's that intimacy plus commitment which he calls companionate love, where you can you can open up and connect with each other. And you have this commitment, but it lacks the passion. So it can just feel very comfortable, very stale. It might happen after years of familiarity. Our goal, consummate love, passion plus intimacy plus commitment. And I truly believe that one of the ways to achieve that is to be able to communicate effectively. And I was not going to make this a magnetic marriage ad of sorts. But if you don't feel like you have the ability to communicate, then I would say that's one of the first things that you can work on in order to start to develop any of these areas that you might feel is a deficiency, whether it's in the passion, the intimacy or the commitment to get to that version of love, this consummate love. So perfect plug and go to Tony Overbay, dot com slash magnetic or so shoot me an email through the contact form and we'll get you on that list of the next round of the magnetic marriage.

[00:37:24] But I would love to hear your thoughts. If you have additional questions, comments, concerns, feel free to comment on Instagram and when this post goes up or shoot me an email and I might cover that in a future question and answer episode. So, hey, everybody, I appreciate all of you, right? I do. I literally do. I love all the people. When I was walking the campus of BYU, I got stopped a couple of times. That's always fun. People that are familiar with the virtual couch and it just has I do I feel such a feeling of of this love, which is probably the the liking. The intimacy is platonic feeling familiarity and friendship that comes with somebody that I feel like we we have this shared passion where we're like minded, that sort of thing. Here's to the goal of getting to this companionate love with your partner and recognizing these other parts of love within your relationships with others. All right. I hope you have an amazing week taking us away as per usual hole. And she didn't come back. I ran into Aurora, Florence last weekend and going to have her back on. And we've got some parenting to talk about. She's got some great takes on parenting that I can't wait to get to. But taking us away is a reference with her song, It's Wonderful

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