As she outlines in the article, in a new relationship, our partner constantly surprises us because so much about him or her is a mystery. This uncertainty is exciting and often accompanied by high levels of desire and passion. Social psychologists refer to early stage of a relationship as passionate love – an intense period of longing and desire for a partner that is common in new relationships but tends to fade after about two years. Over time, our partners become more familiar and predictable, and we shift to a more companionate love stage. Although this stage typically involves a deep connection, it is less intense and often feels more stable and comfortable.
Entries in passion (11)
My mom (who I live with) thinks I am falling in love, but I am not so sure. Being the scientist that I am, I constantly deliberate on what exactly love is. Love is such a general term that people use to describe so many feelings—I find the application of the word “love” to particular relationships to be very subjective—for example, although she may think I am in love, I actually might just be infatuated.
Given my mother’s unshakable opinion, I reflected on a recent weekend get-away with The Consultant, a man I have been dating for several months, to think about whether this is love or infatuation.
A few years ago, I fell madly in love with a guy shortly before he left for a study abroad program in Barcelona. So I did what any rational person in my position would do: I made plans to stay with him for a month, bought a plane ticket, and spent every possible moment chatting with him via Skype until my long-awaited departure. We both grew increasingly excited about my arrival, and when I finally showed up at the front door of his hostel, things were, well, intense (in a can’t-keep-our-hands-to-ourselves kind of way). Things continued this way for a couple of days. But soon we realized that we didn’t have as much to say to each other as we thought we did, and the passion quickly dissipated. Within a week of my arrival, he dumped me, and I found myself stranded in Barcelona. (If that’s not the title of a country song, it should be).
So, what happened? Where did all of that passion go?
If you want to read about love and marriage you've got to buy two separate books. ~ Alan King
Popular wisdom suggests that intensely passionate love is a rare phenomenon in long-term partnerships. The assumption is that passion peaks in the early stages of a relationship and then fades over time. In a recent study, however, researchers found that intense love for a partner (even after 30 years or more together) may not be as rare as people assume.
A new Relationship Matters (the official podcast of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships) has just been released. SofR's own Dr. Bjarne Holmes interviews Dr. Elaine Hatfield about her about her work on passion and sexual desire.
Several years ago, I read a journal article in which the researchers reported that individuals who had recently fallen in love had higher levels of cortisol than did individuals in long-term relationships or those in no relationship at all. Importantly, high levels of cortisol can eventually weaken the immune system and undermine physical health. Admittedly, this finding baffled me. If chronically high levels of cortisol can be bad for health, then how does that explain the overwhelmingly positive impression people have of being passionately in love? I’ve yet to find a Valentine’s Day card that reads, “I love you so much that you make me susceptible to pneumonia.”
If your relationship has become a bit stagnant, it likely lacks sufficient self-expansion. As we’ve discussed previously, self-expansion refers to people’s inherent desires to improve themselves and relationships serve as a key route to accomplishing this goal. However, many relationships are in a rut or otherwise feel a bit stagnant, stale, or boring. Want to learn about some strategies for improving your relationship that counteract boredom by fostering self-expansion? Read on...
"DX" asked the following question: I'm wondering if there are any studies about long distance relationships? There's just so much knowledge I believe to be gained from focusing on such a very difficult but highly rewarding relationship type.
Dear DX-- You are exactly right; there's a lot to be learned by looking at the dynamics of long-distance relationships (or what those of us in the business affectionately refer to as "LDRs"). Fortunately, researchers have not neglected this common relationship context. Please see our previous posts by SofR contributor Dr. Bevan (see here and here).
Additionally, below I've pasted an excerpt from our forthcoming book, where I answer the question: Is distance bad for relationships?
Nicole asked, "If every other sought after characteristic is present, can a relationship thrive on a long-term basis if there is no sexual chemistry?"
The makers of Viagra® would have you think such an idea is sheer lunacy! Ultimately, however, it depends on what you mean by “thrive.”
Countless books, songs, and movies have rapturously portrayed the idea that you might one day look across the room, lock eyes with a stranger, and know instantly that you two are meant to be together forever. This phenomenon is portrayed in the movie The Adjustment Bureau in which Matt Damon’s character meets Emily Blunt’s character briefly in a bathroom and is thereafter willing to defy scary men in suits who control the world in order to be with her.
So what does science have to say about love at first sight?
Recently, there has been an explosion of news stories about that seem to suggest that in today’s fast-paced world couples are getting sick of each other even faster. Namely the 7-year-itch is now a “3-year-glitch.” Interestingly, the study was funded by Warner Bros. and timed to be released with the movie Hall Pass.