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Some languages, such as ancient Greek, are better than the English at distinguishing between the different senses in which the word love is used. For example, ancient Greek has the words philia, eros, agape, and storge, meaning love between friends, romantic/sexual love, unconditional (possibly sacrificial, unreciprocated) love, and affection/familial love respectively. However, with Greek as with many other languages, it has been historically difficult to separate the meanings of these words totally, and so we can find examples of agape being used with much the same meaning as eros. At the same time the ancient Greek text of the Bible has examples of the verb agapo being used with the same meaning as phileo.

In an attempt to explain the commonalities and differences of the many types of love, Robert Sternberg has suggested a view of love involving three elements: intimacy, passion and commitment. Different stages and types of love can be explained as different combinations of the three elements. The combinations are as follows.

As a person develops their relationship with a loved one over time, the relative strengths of the elements tends to change. Generally love will start off strong in passion but weak in the other elements. However as time passes, the other elements may grow and passion may shrink -- this depends upon the individual. So what starts as Infatuation or Empty love may well develop into one of the fuller types of love. Likewise when a person has known a loved one for a long time, passion may fade, changing love from Consummate to Companionate, or from Romantic love to Liking. Note that the feeling which Sternberg terms passion is similar to, if not the same as, that termed limerence by Dorothy Tennov. Sternberg states that a relationship based on a single element is less likely to survive than one based on two or more.

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    Ecards with romantic images, music and poetry. Features angels, flowers, scenery, photos and illustrations.
  • Ladies Home Journal: Love E Cards
    Romantic quotes and vintage art.
  • Trouwplannen
    Dutch love ecards mostly in English. Features cartoon art and photos.
  • Dream Cards
    A selection of photos with a romantic theme.
  • My Love Cards
    A collection of love and romance greeting cards featuring sensual photos and animated illustrations. Membership required.