Passionate Love

Updated: OCTOBER 1, 2018

Passionate love is an intense feeling of attraction and desire typically felt early in a relationship. Passionate love is requited and usually shared between two or more participants in a relationship.

Passionate love was explored by relationship experts Elaine Hatfield and Susan Sprecher who developed the Passionate Love Scale in 1986. They theorized that passionate love has cognitive, behavioral, and emotional components. While in passionate love, people usually feel euphoric or out of control. Studies show passionate love diminishes the functioning of the frontal lobe, the part of the brain concerned with logical thinking.

More About Passionate Love

We typically fall in passionate love with people we find physically attractive, affectionate, and personable. These people are also usually similar to us. In addition, people usually have to be ready to fall intensely in love to experience passionate love.

Sexual attraction is a key component of passionate love, but it is not the only part. When people are in passionate love, they are preoccupied by thoughts of their partner. These thoughts are often idealized, although there’s a strong desire to really know one’s partner and be known by the partner in return. Passionate love can involve high highs and low lows; when things go well in the relationship it arouses strong positive feelings, while negative events can feel devastating. People in passionate love often perform acts of service for their partner and want to be physically close to them, both sexually and otherwise.

Passionate love - and the sexual passion that comes with it - has a reputation for being a relatively short phase in any relationship. Some relationship experts suggests it lasts for a year or two before it’s either replaced by calmer feelings of intimacy and companionship known as compassionate love or the relationship dies altogether. However, passionate love can be reignited in certain circumstances, such as when children leave the family home and a couple feels more sexual freedom. So while passionate love is important, it’s not the only component of a strong long-term relationship. Intimacy and commitment are also vital and more long-lasting.


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