Ingredients of a Love Cake

According to Robert Sternberg, there are three basic components that make up a romantic relationship. they are Intimacy, Commitment, and Passion. I call them the basic ingredients of the Love Cake.

1. Passion (P) : This is the motivational ingredient of the love cake. It is sensual and sexy. It includes intense sexual desire, preoccupation, and even obsessiveness. It often occurs at the beginning of romantic relationships. Have you ever met someone and then spend every day and night with them, think about them constantly to the point of distraction, and even ignored other parts of your life to spend time with them? That is passion– it makes us want to eat every last crumb!

2. Intimacy (I) : This is the emotional ingredient in the love cake. It encourages closeness, and involves risks because it needs trust, honesty, vulnerability, and exposure to rise. This component is critical for a relationship to last because it is the friendship between partners that can keep a relationship together when passion may have waned. Some relationships start with a heavy dose of friendship, then get sprinkled with passion and commitment on top.

3. Commitment (C) : This is the cognitive ingredient. Sometimes the passion and friendship in a relationship cake may not be detectable, commitment is what holds the cake together then. It is the longevity component and creates the density of the cake. Some relationships, especially those that have gone on for many years, are heavily flavored with commitment.

When an ingredient is missing or present but disproportionately so, a love cake falls flat:

1. Blue Triangle : If your cake is short on intimacy, it resembles a “Romeo & Juliet” cake, which was all-consuming but there is no depth or complex flavor.think about that story for a second, that couple had to be together no matter what and for at least part of the relationship they did not even know each other’s last names! What will make this cake worth preserving is a healthy dose of intimacy. this means that the bakers, or partners, need to communicate their inner world to each to each other and get to know each other in more meaningful ways. this involves knowing your partner’s strengths, weaknesses, needs, dreams, hopes, and  sensitivities. Ways to add more intimacy are to explore love maps (John Gottman), love languages (Gary Chapman), apology languages, and to spend quality time together alone talking.

2. Red Triangle : If your cake is short on commitment, it will be more like a single cupcake, gone in a flash. It is rich, sweet, decadent, but not something you want to or can preserve. Commitment is an ingredient of personal taste–that means that it is abstract and is defined in value differently by each baker. this means you need to have a conversation about commitment with your partner and check for meaning. Find out what it means to be dating, to be exclusive, to be engaged or married, etc. to your partner and to yourself. You may find that you have very different or similar values for commitment, what matters most is that the ingredient is clearly explored by both bakers, leaving nothing to guesswork.

3. Green Triangle : If you cake is short on passion, it is more like shortbread–good but not mind-blowing. this kind of love cake needs some spice to be truly wonderful. Often couples are baking this cake when they have fallen into a rut. Adding passion isn’t as easy as you might think, sometimes we grow quite comfortable and fond of shortbread, thinking triple chocolate cake is for others. What can help is understanding that passion is not always just a chemical reaction to our partner but is sometimes  a reaction to our own interest in life. If your cake is not as rich in passion as you want it to be, start by adding more passion to your own experiences and asking your partner to do the same, then make some time to share these moments with each other, For instance, pick up a hobby you once loved or get a new one that provokes you, then invite your partner to be present when you are fully engaged. think about it, there is a reason Mick Jagger can probably still get many girls, young and old, to go to bed with him–he is fully engaged when he is performing and what is sexier than that !?!

Ultimately, the love cake needs to be well-balanced, flavorful and what Sternberg called “consummate”.

So check up on your love cake, do regular taste tests and see if your partner likes the way it is tasting too.  This is easily accomplished with a simple bar chart (each do your own, compare, and make a plan of action):

Rate your cake on …

Best Wishes!

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