Formulating Love in Harry Potter

Formulating Love in Harry Potter

Psychologist Robert Sternberg is famous for formulating a “theory of love” known as the Triangular Theory of Love. It states that “the three components of love are an intimacy component, a passion component, and a decision/commitment component.” Essentially, in this formula there are three factors in a successful romantic relationship, each equally important:

Intimacy: “Which encompasses feelings of attachment, closeness, connectedness, and bondedness.”

Passion: “Which encompasses drives connected to both limerence and sexual attraction.”

Commitment: “Which encompasses, in the short term, the decision to remain with another, and in the long term, plans made with that other.”

(I think of “intimacy” as emotional connection, “passion” as romantic/sexual connection, and “commitment” as promise or loyalty.)

The ideal “type” of love is to have all three components. The “triangular” part of the name is from the chart of different types of love:

Given this, I decided to apply this theory to three canonical pairings in Harry Potter (Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks) and decipher what type of love, according to this theory, applies to each couple based on textual evidence from the series.

Pairing ♡ Intimacy ♡ Passion ♡ Commitment Love Type
Harry and Ginny [] From Harry:“And he knew that at that moment, they understood each other perfectly, and when he told her what he was going to do now, she would not say ‘be careful’ or ‘don’t do it’, but she would accept his decision because she would not have expected anything less of him.” (HBP)[] From Ginny: “Maybe that’s why I like you so much.” (HBP, 647) [] From Harry:…and Harry was kissing her back, and it was blissful oblivion, better than firewhisky… (DH, 116)[] From Ginny: …she had a hard, blazing look in her face as she threw her arms around him. (HBP, 533) [] From Harry:“I just wish I’d asked you sooner. We could’ve had ages…months…years maybe…” (HBP, 647)[] From Ginny: “I never really gave up on you,” she said. “Not really. I always hoped….” (HBP, 647) Consummate (Intimacy + Passion + Commitment)
Ron and Hermione [] From Ron: “You’re amazing, you are,” said Ron, handing her his bundled up robes. (DH, ch 9)

[] From Hermione: “It was Ron, all Ron’s idea!” said Hermione breathlessly. “Wasn’t it absolutely brilliant?” (DH, ch 31)

[] From Ron: Ron threw away the fangs and broomstick he was holding and responded with such enthusiasm that he lifted Hermione off her feet. (DH, ch 31)

[] From Hermione: Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth. (DH, ch 31)

[] From Ron:“Wait,” said Bellatrix sharply. “All except… except for the Mudblood.” Greyback gave a grunt of pleasure. “No!” shouted Ron. “You can have me, keep me!” (DH, ch 23)[] From Hermione: “I came running after you! I called you! I begged you to come back!” (DH, ch 19) Consummate (Intimacy + Passion + Commitment)
Remus and Tonks [] From Remus: “Tonks deserves somebody young and whole.” (HBP)[] From Tonks: …the meaning of Tonk’s Patronus and her mouse-colored hair, and the reason she had come running to find Dumbledore when she had heard a rumor someone had been attacked by Greyback, all suddenly became clear to Harry; it had not been Sirius that Tonks had fallen in love with after all. (HBP) [?] From Remus: No textual evidence for or against this.[?] From Tonks: No textual evidence for or against this. [] From Remus: “You want to leave Tonks at her parents’ house and come away with us?” (DH)[] From Tonks: …and she wiggled her left hand at him; a ring glittered there. (DH) Liking(Intimacy)


Harry and Ginny have mastered all three elements, thus are Consummate lovers. Harry’s commitment can be questioned from the way he broke up with Ginny in Half-Blood Prince, however because he was doing it for her own safety actually adds points on the intimacy scale.

For Ron and Hermione, there is evidence of their intimacy, passion and commitment to each other in the series, making their “love type” Consummate. Their intimacy and Ron’s commitment might be shaky sometimes, but not often enough for them to be ruled out.

There’s a lot we don’t know about Remus and Tonks’s relationship, however it is evident that they care deeply about each other. Unfortunately, we don’t know any information on the “passion” end of their relationship, and in Deathly Hallows, Remus walks out on Tonks to help Harry, Ron and Hermione. Even though his intentions could be debated as good, we don’t know enough about the situation and whether or not Remus was wanting to leave because he didn’t want to hurt Tonks or simply because he wanted to leave (though I personally believe the latter isn’t as likely). Still, the only thing we can say for sure is that their romance can be put in the Liking category. If we knew more about their passion, I would also see their relationship as Romantic.

I thought that this was an interesting concept to learn about, not only for these couples but for others. I encourage you to try to find what type of love your favorite pairing is – are James and Lily merely Fatuous? Are Fleur and Bill Consummate? Also try this with your favorite non-canon pairings (Luna/Neville, Draco/Harry, Harry/Hermione, Snape/Lily, etc.) to see if they would realistically work out.

Let me know in the comments below if you agree/disagree with my claims on these three couples! Also, tell me what you think what love types some other couples in the Potterverse would have!


  1. Would the fact that Remus and Tonks obviously had intimate relations (ie: they had a baby) give them the passion points?

  2. If you read the Remus Lupin entry by JK on Pottermore it answers those questions. It says flat out he was in love with her. Check it out please.

  3. “elation from being married to the woman of his dreams…” Was used in the Pottermore entry on Remus. That should cover this…

  4. Remus spent the whole time worried he would hurt her. Wouldn’t him leaving actually show love for her even if it was bad judgment Remus is known to be rash when confronted with his condition. “If you love them let them go, let them be happy.” Comes to mind.

    • He didn’t see how he could possibly be good for her or make her happy until later in the marriage. He even said on the radio that Harry should follow his instincts because they are most likely right. I took that to mean they were very happily married and he understood he could be what she needed.

  5. God I hate when people say crap like Tonks and Lupins love was one sided! That’s not true! They don’t understand why he kept himself away to protect her though he loved her and wanted to be with her. He’s a Gryffindor he’s going to be stupidly noble! Ha

  6. I don’t buy this… Read the Pottermore entry on Remus and it covers all the bases… So you should probably take a look at that before posting.

  7. It says in Pottermore “Remus eschewed his Order missions and made his first priority protecting and caring for his wife and unborn child.” That represents commitment. So if you read that it covers all categories.

  8. WHAT about when Harry broke up with Ginny in HBP? Thats not commitment, and people say “oh he was protecting her” well so was Remus! he was a werewolf for gods sakes! the book begins with death eaters talking about killing Tonks because she married him!

    • I believe their love was equal! Remus and Tonks! Of course he was just worried about hurting her. JK tried to portray a lot through Remus and I think a self image and worth problem was part of that. He loved her so much he didn’t want her to have to live isolated or in fear of him. He thought she deserved better but she taught him he was worth love.

  9. Do you really think there is no passion in the relationship of remus and tonks? They have a baby! Sorry I have to tell you: but baby’s not just appear when you are married for some time. You have to have sex. And for sex there has to be passion in a relationship. And committment: they even died together. I don’t have the exact words from the book on my mind, but at least in the film they even hold hands in death. If this is not a promise then what else?

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