Companionate Love

Companionate Love In contrast to the intense, emotional, erotic, and some- times obsessional nature of passionate love, companionate love is a form of af- fection that binds close friends as well as lovers. Companionate relationships rest on a foundation of mutual trust, caring, respect, friendship, and commitment— characteristics that John Harvey and Julie Omarzu (2000) see as necessary for “minding the close relationship.”

Compared with the passionate form of love, companionate love is less intense but is in some respects deeper and more enduring. Susan Sprecher and Pamela Regan (1998) administered passionate and companionate love scales to hetero- sexual couples who had been together for varying amounts of time and found that the passionate love scores of both men and women initially rose over time but then peaked and declined somewhat during marriage. Companionate love scores, however, did not similarly decline. In fact, in couples that stay together, partners are likely to report that “I love you more today than yesterday”. Like the slow but steady tortoise in Aesop’s fable, companionate love may seem to be outpaced by the flashier start of passionate love, but it can still cross the finish line well ahead.

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Companionate love is characterized by high levels of self-disclosure, a will- ingness to open up and share intimate facts and feelings. In a way, self-disclosure is to companionate love what arousal is to passionate love. Think for a moment about your most embarrassing moment, your most cherished ambitions, or your sex life. Would you bare your soul on these private matters to a complete stranger? What about a casual acquaintance, date, friend, or lover? Whether or not to self-disclose—what, when, how much, and to whom—is a decision that each of us makes based on a consideration of what we stand to gain and lose in a relationship.

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