Study: Romance Doesn’t Have to Die

Good news for everyone who is worried that love eventually dwindles into a less sizzling form of companionship. A new study has found that romance can actually improve rather than decline in long-term relationships.

Dr. Bianca Acevedo, then at Stony Brook University (currently at University of California, Santa Barbara), and Dr. Arthur Aron, of Stony Brook University, reviewed 25 studies with 6,070 individuals in short- and long-term relationships, classifying the relationships in each of the studies as romantic, passionate (romantic with obsession) or friendship-like love and categorized them as long- or short-term. Unsurprisingly, those who reported greater romantic love were more satisfied in their long-term relationships than those who classified their love as companion-like. The study appears in the March issue of Review of General Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association.

The study challenges the belief that romantic love generally declines and companionship love tends to evolve and grow if things are going well in the relationship. “When taking a closer look, it seems like some people were still very much in love,” says Acevedo. “They just weren’t crazy.” Acevedo says that people often erroneously believe that romantic love and passionate love are the same. “Romantic love has the intensity, engagement and sexual chemistry that passionate love has, minus the obsessive component.” She adds that passionate or obsessive love helps drive shorter relationships but not longer ones.

This recent study may change people’s expectations of what they want in long-term relationships, according to Acevedo, with companionship love, which is what many couples see as the natural progression of a successful relationship, coming to be seen as an unnecessary compromise. “Couples should strive for love with all the trimmings,” Acevedo says. “For some people, stagnation might be a desirable state, but it doesn’t have to be that way. And couples who’ve been together a long time and wish to get back their romantic edge should know it is an attainable goal that, like most good things in life, requires energy and devotion.”

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