We often think of passion as a stolen kiss, the fire in an embrace or the steam in the bedroom that would fog up any mirror. While romance floats blissfully along with its roses and chocolates, poetic gestures and words of undying love. But is this really what passion and romance are all about, and are they mutually exclusive?
What is Passionate Love?
Passionate love embodies those intense feelings at the beginning of a relationship that put us in an almost drug like state. You feel on such a high that everything else seems to fade into the background and all you can think of is the object of your affection, or perhaps more aptly put, ‘your obsession’. It is because these feelings are so obsessive that they do not last over a long period of time. It is a heightened state of emotion that is bound to wane. “According to Dr Barbara Winter, it is this obsessive nature that also induces feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.”
What is Romantic Love?
While romantic love does not exclude passion or sexual desire, when we think of this type of love we tend to associate it with a sense of connectedness on a more emotional level that extends beyond the physical aspect and leaves us with that warm and fuzzy feeling. It is a concept that has been widely influenced and somewhat distorted by the media with its voluminous portrayals of ‘fairy tale love’ and ‘happily ever afters’. Think of the star crossed lovers who overcome insurmountable odds to ultimately unite and live out their days in the glow of their love. It may be a beautiful picture but just how realistic is this?
What is Real Love?
With all the rhetoric surrounding definitions of passion and romance you would not be alone in feeling a little confused. The fact that they are different for everyone makes it difficult to express in concrete terms that would lead us to some universal understanding of each. Hence, it is why some see little difference between the two while others regard them as very distinct. But the true relevance may not be in defining these as it is in understanding their role in a relationship.
We often speak of passionate and romantic love as if they are completely opposing teams and that you must choose one or the other. However, both types of love can happily coexist in a relationship. It is just in their timing and duration that they may differ. As I have said, passion is usually at its height at the beginning of a relationship and its intensity makes it difficult to sustain over time. Romantic love, whilst still often more vibrant in the honeymoon stage of a relationship, has the ability to continue further into the relationship because of its emotional element. It is this extension of the emotional element that opens the door to what I consider to be ‘real love’. That is, the ‘day-to-day love’ that sees relationships endure a lifetime. It is not the bells and whistles or fairy tale façade but in the love that is found is sharing the everyday tasks and finding value and worth in this togetherness.
So while passionate and romantic love may be a great way to start a relationship, there needs to be more for it to extend into a stable long lasting one. It requires a love that sees past the shine and glimmer, to a recognition of the other person’s imperfections and vulnerabilities and still shines just as brightly.