What Is Fatuous Love? Definition and Examples

Fatuous love is a form of love defined within Sternberg’s triangular theory of love made up from only two of three components, Passion and Commitment (and excludes Intimacy).

This love can come on quickly, as in “love at first sight,” and can last a while, but unless Intimacy develops in the relationship, then the relationship will remain immature and may seem chaotic, manic, and is likely to end in disaster.

Also known as fantasy, fictional, or imaginary love, fatuous love is kind of love that is a characteristic of courtship prior to building intimacy.

Fatuous love lies at the base of the “triangle” used to illustrate Sternberg’s theory of love psychology. As Sternberg defines passion, it is the summation of romance-based drives, mental absorption as a result of physical attraction, and their associated occurrences in relationships of love.

Commitment, according to Sternberg ,can imply long or short-term issues. Short term commitment is the instant liking of one person towards another whereas a long-term commitment is one’s dedication to sustaining that kind of love. In fatuous love, one person has strong emotions of arousal towards the other with an inner push compelling them to engage in something out of excitement.

On occasion, passion in fatuous love can spark dangerous behavior in people. Further, Sternberg identifies commitment as a sober decision in which people decide consciously to dedicate their lives to one another. Partners in a fatuous love expect a level of satisfaction, and the level of satisfaction an individual gains from the relationship determines the longevity of the commitment. When parties in a fatuous relationship commit to each other, they make promises to offer or do something and a pledge of loyalty to their partners. Sternberg identifies commitment as the assertiveness of an individual striving to achieve or support an ideology. The power in fatuous love depends on the level to which commitment and passion blend.


Kelly Clarkson’s “Heartbeat Song” is one example of fatuous love in pop culture. Kelly is portraying cravings for the one she loves. She longs for her love. Her lyrics print an image herself as someone under the spell of physical arousal. For instance, in part of the lyrics, Kelly expresses herself as only dreaming about the one she loves. With some exaggeration, she remarks her unbelief in her ability to breathe without him. Further, she claims here loved one makes brings liveliness in her and makes her new so she longs him to be with her one more time. Her expression of temperatures rising inside her shows the passion for romance in her. A feeling of his hands on her hips and her kiss on his lips is something she desires to put up with for a long time showing her dedication to commitment.

Another classic example from pop culture is The Beatle’s song “Something,” from 1969’s Abbey Road. In this song, George Harrison sings out of excitement about a woman that attracts him with her movements winning him with an incomparable passion. He is uncertain of the growth of his love. He shows commitment by expressing his desire to cling to her. This is passion and commitment at their best. Harrison sings fatuous love because he misses intimacy in this relationship.