Love is one of the most profound feelings and is defined as a strong feeling of affection. A relationship takes trust, loyalty and communication to work, but no relationship is ever without its rough patches.
In this report, I will be analysing the relationship between Kenzie and Eugene, and evaluating them based on the triangular theory of love, security and support, gender differences, and the characteristics of mature and immature love. Kenzie and Eugene met in JC last year, and they have been together since July 2017, making this the 16th month they have been together.
Triangular Theory of Love
According to Robert Sternberg’s triangular theory of love, passion, commitment and intimacy are the three main components of relationships (Long-Crowell). Passion on its own brings infatuation, intimacy alone is equivalent to liking, and commitment alone means empty love. However, when these three components come together, seven different kinds of love are formed, namely infatuation, liking, empty love, fatuous love, romantic love, companionate love, and consummate love (Watson). Passion
Passion refers to the strong desire for physical attraction, sexual arousal, or romantic feelings for someone. Passionate love is more than just sexual attraction- there is also the cognitive component refers to interest and attraction; the emotional component refers to the human need for love and physical touch; and the behavioural component refers to the way one treats their partner (Whitbourne).
As Eugene and Kenzie are JC classmates, they are used to each other’s company, and might lack the sparks and butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling from when they first got together. The cognitive aspect of their passion will be affected as seeing each other is such a routine, and their relationship will need some reigniting in the passion between them.
Kenzie constantly needs Eugene’s affection and attention, and her constant need to maintain physical closeness shows that she is in passionate love, as people in passionate love tend to maintain close physical proximity (Cherry). Eugene goes out of his way to surprise Kenzie and his actions speak louder than his words do, as he expresses his love for her through “acts of service”. Eugene is in compassionate love, as people in compassionate love cares deeply and are committed.
Chemistry represents the emotional connection between the couple, and a relationship devoid of chemistry results in a lack of emotional intensity (Manson). Kenzie feels that there is a lack of chemistry as their interests are very different, even describing their relationship as “boring” sometimes, but Eugene thinks otherwise.
Commitment refers to making the effort to stay together despite rough patches in the relationships, and the willingness to try and make things work. The two aspects to commitment, namely short-term commitment whereby the relationship’s is to fulfil current needs, and long-term commitment which is more about the partnership and effort to maintain the relationship (Baugher)
Kenzie has a long-term goal for this relationship in mind - she is hoping to marry and settle down in five years, yet she does not compromise with Eugene. Kenzie communicates her concerns that he does not spend enough time with her, and he tries his best to make more time for her. Eugene has long-term commitment to this relationship as commitment involves compromising and being willing to consider your partner’s viewpoint (Garapick).
When Eugene expresses that he wishes to have a proper balance between Kenzie, his family, friends, and personal interests she does not try to understand where he is coming from. While Eugene seems to be putting in more effort into making Kenzie happy, Kenzie does not reciprocate. Kenzie lacks commitment, and does not seem to be putting in effort to maintain the relationship unlike Eugene who is willing to compromise and work towards improving their relationship.
Intimacy refers to the feeling of closeness, and denotes mutual vulnerability, openness and sharing. It plays a significant role in people’s lives because humans are social creatures who crave and thrive on close personal relationships with others, and is a basic biological need (GoodTherapy).
In terms of emotional intimacy, Kenzie and Eugene are very different in the way they want to be treated in times of stress- Kenzie needs support and encouragement, while Eugene needs space and time alone. They are both mutually respectful of each other’s choices in that sense. While Eugene trusts Kenzie wholeheartedly and is open with her, Kenzie struggles with intimacy and is still very reserved with Eugene and rates her trust towards him at a 7/10, and keeps secrets from him. They have a low level of emotional intimacy as a result, because their relationship lacks mutual trust.
Security and Support
A secure relationship is built upon the couple feeling emotionally safe with one another. The foundation lies in knowing your partner has your best interests in mind, and will have faith when things get rough. Emotional security acts as a buffer that allows the couple to be honest, open and genuine with each other (Nicastro).
While Kenzie feels very secure in this relationship, Eugene realises that he is unable to fulfil Kenzie’s needs and wants, and does not have faith that this relationship will last. Eugene provides Kenzie with a lot of emotional support with his presence, words of affirmation and encouragement especially when she is going through a rough time. The security of their relationship is at stake because there is a lack of transparency and compromise. A relationship that lacks security may lead to insecurity and possibly, mistrust (Nicastro).
Kenzie is not very supportive of Eugene’s lifestyle choices – he is a very sporty person and enjoys working out, but Kenzie does not like that he is spending that time in the gym when he could be spending it with her instead. He does not feel supported by Kenzie, and wishes that she would try to understand his needs and wants more. Being selfish is all about 'I' and not 'we,' which is what a relationship is built upon (Ishak). It is growing especially difficult to be together for Eugene because he feels that Kenzie has no regard for his feelings.
Males and females communicate differently- men believe that communication is used to get to the root of the dilemma as efficiently as possible, while women see conversation as an act of sharing and an opportunity to increase intimacy with her partner (Drobnick). Men usually want less relationship talk, and women need closure after conflict (Orbuch).
Kenzie is more open with her feelings about their relationship than Eugene is, and brings up the problems for them to talk about and solve, while Eugene is more accommodating and listens.Eugene and Kenzie also express their affection to each other in different ways- Eugene does so through his actions, and his love language is “acts of service”, while Kenzie does so through her words and spending time, and her love language is “spending quality time”, showing that they behave and communicate their love differently.
Gender stereotypes have also caused a rift in their relationship. It is a common stereotype that men cannot cry and have to be emotionally strong. Eugene no longer confides in Kenzie when he is going through a rough time, because she discredits his pain and tells him to “man up”. As a result of Kenzie being selfish and not understanding Eugene, he prefers to deal with his pain on his own now.
Immature and Mature Love
Immature relationships leave you wanting something, while a mature relationship gives you what you need. Immature relationships strive to be one complete person whereas an immature relationship are okay being two separate persons (Martin). In this relationship, Kenzie feels that Eugene does not pay her enough attention and she often feels neglected, even though they see each other almost everyday. She does not like it when he spends time pursuing his interests or with his friends and wants him to spend that time with her instead, showing that she is in immature love as she wants Eugene’s life to revolve around her. Immature relationships attempt to change the other (Smith), which is what Kenzie has been doing when she wants Eugene to give up his personal interests for her.
Mature relationships are founded on a platform of complete openness and honesty, and are rooted in reality (Drenth). Even though Kenzie communicates her concerns about their relationship to Eugene, she still keeps secrets from him. Eugene is not completely honest with Kenzie as well, as she makes him feel worse about himself when he tries to confide in her. There is a lack of mutual openness and honesty from both parties and thus, their relationship is an immature one.
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