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Passionate or Companionate Love?

Passionate or Companionate Love?
Passionate or Companionate Love?

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the difference between Passionate and Companionate Love and which one is more critical in a relationship.

First a quick update:

“Qualities of faithful men”
Is it possible to be able to easily identify the man that will be loyal?  Read my quotes and insights given to Glo? about some of the qualities that a faithful man will possess.

“Los nuevos reyes de la taquilla”
For Spanish speaking people, read my quotes and insights given to the Colombian magazine “Semana” about the new kings of the box office.

Now, let’s talk about the difference between Passionate and Companionate Love and which one is more critical in a relationship.

The 2003 romantic comedy, “Love Actually” follows a series of love stories of various people – some related and carefully interwoven. The movie covers every aspect of love – from unrequited love and betrayal to mourning and forgiveness; from redemption and deep romance to childhood love and secrets; from obligation and devotion to brotherly love and loneliness.

In one poignant yet comedic scene, newly widowed Daniel (Liam Neeson) and his 11-year old stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster) are sitting on a bench.

Daniel: So, what’s the problem, Samuel? Is it just Mum or is it something else, huh? Maybe school? Are you being bullied? Or is it something worse? Can you give me any clues at all?

Sam: You really want to know?

Daniel: I really want to know.

Sam: Even though you won’t be able to do anything to help?

Daniel: Even if that’s the case, yeah.

Sam: OK. Well… truth is, actually… I’m in love.

Daniel: Sorry?

Sam: I know I should be thinking about Mum all the time and I am but the truth is, I’m in love. I was before she died and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Daniel: Aren’t you a bit young to be in love?

Sam: No.

Daniel: Ah, well. OK, well… I’m a little relieved.

Sam: Why?

Daniel: Because l… thought it’d be something worse.

Sam: Worse than the total agony of being in love?

Daniel: Er… No, you’re right. Total agony.

Love has been described in myriads of ways and even classified in as many ways. There are four different Greek words and terms for love: Philia, Storge, Eros and Agape. And female clients often tell me that they are seeking and longing for unconditional love. Read my controversial article  “The challenge of unconditional love” .

Love has also been divided into irrational and rational love.

Irrational Love has been referred to as:
Romantic love
Unreasonable love
Emotional love
Passionate love

Rational Love has been referred to as:
Conjugal love
Reasonable love
Sentimental love
Affectionate love
Companionate love

In terms of committed and romantic relationships and partnerships, love can be recognized as

1. Passionate Love (intensely emotional, tender and sexual feelings; elation, pain, anxiety and relief):
“A state of intense absorption in another. Sometimes lovers are those who long for their partners and for complete fulfillment. Sometimes lovers are those who are ecstatic at finally having attained their partner’s love and, momentarily, complete fulfillment. A state of intense physiological arousal.”- Elaine Hatfield Walster & William Walster “A New Look at Love

2. Companionate Love (affection, deep attachment, friendship, loyalty, understanding, concern and caring):
“The affection we feel for those with whom our lives are deeply entwined.”  – Elaine Hatfield Walster & William Walster “A New Look at Love”

Elaine Hatfield is Professor of Psychology at University of Hawaii. Along with Doctors David Greenberger, Philip and Susan Sprecher of the University of Wisconsin, Professor Hatfield conducted a study into “Passionate and Companionate Love in newlywed couples.” The study found that “Women were found to Companionately love more than men, while no gender difference was found in the amount of passionate love reported.”

In many other studies, it has also been revealed (or the stereotype simply confirmed) that when it comes to Companionate Love in dating and marriage – women are more loving: women like and Companionately love their partners more than they are liked and Companionately loved in return. I concede that this is a contentious topic not easily clarified or unequivocally confirmed as many male clients have also shared conflicting experiences in their marriage.

Intimate relationships create intense emotions – positive and negative (anger, resentment, depression, frustration, jealousy and anxiety.) However, various studies support and reveal that the overall degree of reported negativity tended to increase and then finally level off with the relationship satisfaction with sex, and the perceived stability of the marriage.

In further research conducted by Professor Hatfield, she has found that Passionate Love usually lasts between 6 to 30 months in any love relationship. From there it can disintegrate completely or morph into Compassionate Love.

“According to folklore, passionate love is fragile and lasts for only a short time. If the couple is lucky, passionate love evolves into companionate love, which is considered to be a robust kind of love that can, and often does, last a lifetime. Sometimes romantic passion slowly diminishes in strength and becomes transformed into a stable and tender ‘affectionate love’ that is able to withstand the responsibility, problems, and routine, and even boredom that comes with a lasting relationship.” – Elaine Hatfield (“Passionate and Companionate Love in newlywed couples.”)

The greatest differences between Passionate Love and Companionate Love can be summed up by the expectations and desires of each respective Love.

Passionate Love is known as ‘falling in love’ or infatuation and focuses on one’s self – an inward self-oriented focus – the expectations and pleasure that he or she will derive from the other person coupled with a strong sexual attraction and chemistry. Read my article  “Love or infatuation”

“We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love, never so forlornly unhappy as when we have lost our love object or its love.” – Sigmund Freud

Companionate Love has an external focus – loving the other person and focuses on caring and concern for the other person, building on affection and bonds of attachment; building a partnership. The focus shifts from physical passion to emotional and devotional bonding.

The excitement of the first phase and stage of love (Passionate Love) is truly irresistible offering so many emotional highs – and lows. The story of “Romeo and Juliet” is only interesting and appealing because of the intense emotions of each lover and the heightened romanticism of killing oneself rather than living without the object of worship – the lover. However, in daily life, it is not possible to maintain the extraordinary energy required to live this passion and romantic tale.

The fairy tales create worlds where only romantic love exists and thus we never see what happens once the two lovers have united; how will their flame of passion burn so brightly day after day – ever after?

Of course, there can still be romance and excitement in the relationship or marriage but the romance and passion cannot be the driving force or lynchpin for a long-lasting and fulfilling marriage. Only years of love, care, concern and devotion to each other can create that!

To cultivate Companionate Love, read my article “The twelve most important words you will ever speak”

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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