Romantic Love vs. Companionate Love

princess bride



In class today you will read about the difference between passionate love and companionate love. Watch “romantic” video clips below. On google classroom leave comments explaining, is it passionate love (involves intense feelings and sexual attraction) or companionate love (involves feelings of mutual respect, trust and affection).

Read the article

Assignment:  You will also write a dear Abby style letter giving advice to Hopelessly in Love.  Answer Questions on worksheet.

What you need to know:

Factors that increase the chance that people will like one another. Research shows that we like others who are similar to us, those who we are frequently around, and those who return our positive feelings.  These  factors are referred to as:

  1. similarity research shows we are drawn to people who are similar to us, those who share our attitudes, backgrounds, and interests.
  2. proximity (means nearness).  AKA propinquity  one of the main determinants of attraction is physical proximity.
  3. Mere exposure effect (another social psychology term; we like things & people that we are exposed to most often) says that the greater the exposure you have a person, the more you  like that person.
  4. reciprocal liking-the more someone likes you, the more you like that person
  5. physical attractiveness- people are attracted to others who are physically attractive.  “Good-looking” people are perceived as having all sorts of positive attributes including better personalities and greater competence.

Passionate love vs. companionate love (Social psychologist Elaine Hatfield says there are 2 kinds of love: passionate love & companionate love.)

Passionate love is a desire, a lust, an uncontrollable feeling you have.  An attraction for someone so great you may feel aroused; temporary love. Passionate love usually present at the beginning of a relationship; when you feel like you just “absorb” the other person (in other words “you can’t enough of them”)

Whereas  companionate love is based more on a friendship, having common interests, having trust in each other; lasting love.  1) One key ingredient of companionate love is equity-both partners receive in proportion to what they give. When equity exists both partners freely give and receive, and share decision-making. 2) Another key ingredient of loving relationships is self-disclosure-the revealing of intimate details about ourselves (our dreams and worries, our proud and shameful moments, etc)

According to Hatfield, passionate love, in longer-term relationships, can develop into companionate love.

Article on Passionate Love vs. Compassionate Love 

The Disney movie Up is as a good example of love with  passion, intimacy, & commitment.

  1. What would Robert Sternberg say about their love?
  2. Research Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of love.
  3. Is the love between Carl & Ellie consummate love? Explain your answer
  4.  What about Ally (Lady Gaga) & Jack (Bradley Cooper) from A Star is Born?


Jerry Maquire Movie “You Complete Me” scene


Say Anything Trailer


Psychologist Robert Sternberg devised a theory about love; he says passion is only 1/3 of the equation; called the Triangular Theory of Love. Identifies 3 components PASSION, intimacy & commitment.  Intimacy is the feeling of closeness, connectedness, and bondedness.  Commitment refers to the decision to maintain the relationship.

The triangular theory gives us a yardstick to evaluate the status of a relationships.  Commitment without passion or intimacy is “empty love.” Passion alone is “infatuation.” Intimacy without passion or commitment is “liking.”

According to Sternberg, relationships built on two or more elements are more enduring that those based upon a single component.

  1. Romantic Love- involves intimacy and passion without commitment and is more common in the teenage and young adult years
  2. Consummate love- a combination of intimacy, passion and commitment. While this type of love is the strongest and most enduring ( typical of close friends, and sometimes long-term marriages)  Sternberg suggests that this type of love is rare.
  3. Fatuous Love is like getting engaged after dating for three weeks—it involves passion and commitment, but no deeper intimacy.
  4. Infatuated Love – involves passion only and often occurs at the very beginning of a relationship.
  5. Passionate Love– composed of sexual excitement, feelings of euphoria, infatuation, and general physiological arousal.
  6. Empty Love – involves commitment with no intimacy or passion, as in an arranged marriage—but it may grow into other forms of love over time

Here are some sample items to see if you are “in like,” “in love,” or “in lust.” (Ratings on a 5 point scale from “not at all true” to “very much true”)

Liking Scale

I have great confidence in ____________’s judgment

________________ is one of the most likable people I know.

I think that ___________ and I are quite similar.

I think that __________ is unusually well-adjusted.

Loving Scale

I would do almost anything for ___________.

If I could never be with ___________, I would feel miserable.

I feel responsible for ______________’s well-being.

When I am with _____________, I spend a good deal of time just looking at him/her.

Lust Scale

I can’t stop thinking about having sex with __________________.

The best thing about ________________ and my relationship is that we let our bodies do all the talking.

__________________’s attitudes and opinions don’t really matter in our relationship.

The best part of my relationship with ______________________ is the sexual chemistry.


About victoriaruss

I teach World History, Civics, AP Psychology, and AP Government at West Bladen High School.
This entry was posted in Unit 14 Social Psychology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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