The Love Test
Passion, Intimacy, and Commitment Combinations
Within a relationship over time, and in different relationships, the dimensions of love may vary in intensity. Differing levels of passion, emotional intimacy and commitment should result in different experiences of love. Below you will find general descriptions of what love may be like for different combinations of passion, emotional intimacy and commitment.
High Passion, Low Emotional Intimacy and Commitment.
This is typically what we think of as "Love at First Sight". It's very intense... almost an obsession. You can't get the person out of your thoughts. You long to be near them--to touch them--to merge with them. It's like being intoxicated. You are experiencing lots of physical arousal. This type of love produces extremes in highs and lows. If the other person feels the same, then you're on top of the world. However, if the person shows signs of not feeling the same way, you may experience the depths of despair. You may not know the person very well. You must be careful here not to let your feelings get you in too deep before you develop adequate emotional intimacy with this person to find out if you are compatible in terms of your values and beliefs and whether you potential partner has healthy interaction skills.
High Emotional Intimacy, Low Passion and Commitment.
This is what we typically think of as friendship. You genuinely like the person and can talk to them about anything. You get the warm fuzzies from interacting with them. Feelings of closeness, friendship, warmth, and caring will tend to predominate. You trust them and care about them, but it doesn't have the intensity of passion. There is also not much emphasis on commitment to maintain the relationship long-term; if circumstances change (such as changing jobs or moving to another city), the relationship may fade into the background.
High Commitment, Low Passion and Emotional Intimacy.
Depending on the culture, this may describe the terminal stage of a relationship or the beginning of a relationship. In cultures where one's partner is selected for you, the relationship begins based on commitment. Passion and emotional intimacy may develop later. In cultures where people select their partners based on love, it's likely that a commitment-only relationship has lost the passion and/or emotional intimacy it once had. For whatever reasons (financial, children, etc), you are committed to staying in a relationship where you feel little passion toward you partner, and little emotional intimacy.
High Emotional Intimacy and Commitment, and low(er) Passion.
This is what we typically think of as a "best friends" type love. It's the kind of love we might tend to find in long term relationships. You genuinely like the person and can talk to them about anything. You get the warm fuzzies from interacting with them. Feelings of closeness, friendship, warmth, and caring will tend to predominate. You trust them and care about them, but it doesn't have the intensity of passion that it used to have. Commitment to the relationship is well established. You can depend on your partner to be there through thick and thin.
High Passion and Emotional Intimacy, low(er) Commitment.
This is typically what we think of as "Romantic Love". You are drawn to your partner both physically and emotionally. This type of love shares the arousal and intensity of a passion based relationship, but differs in that there is more emotional intimacy. You love your partner for who they are, not because of who you think they are. You trust your partner and feel emotionally close to him or her. You can share your innermost thoughts and feelings without fear of rejection. You experience strong surges of passion when you share your thoughts and feelings with your partner. You haven't reached the point of making a commitment to stay together yet, but it's likely that if the relationship continues and remains fulfilling for both partners, then commitment will occur.
High Passion and Commitment, Low(er) Emotional Intimacy.
This is typically what we think of as a whirlwind romance. It tends to start out with love at first sight and then soon after (before the partners know each other well), they commit to a long term relationship. It's very intense--almost an obsession. You can't get the person out of your thoughts. You long to be near them--to touch them--to merge with them. It's like being intoxicated. You experience lots of physical arousal and extreme highs in the beginning--you just *know* that they're the one for you--a match made in heaven. The problem is, you don't know who your partner is! If you get lucky, you've jumped into a relationship with someone who is compatible and over time (before the passion wears off) emotional intimacy will develop and you'll find that you are compatible. If you're not so lucky, you may find that as you get to know your partner as a person (rather than who you think they are) you might not like what you find. If you and your partner aren't compatible, then emotional intimacy can't develop. Then when the passion wears off, all that's left is commitment (and probably a lot of passionately angry/frustrated/hurt feelings).
High Passion, Emotional Intimacy and Commitment.
This is what we typically think of as our goal--a relationship that is passionate, emotionally intimate and committed. You are "in love" with your partner--the passion is definitely there, and you like them as a person. You communicate well and your communication with your partner enhances your feelings of closeness and your passion. You share feelings of closeness, friendship, warmth, and caring. You are committed to making the relationship last--doing things to nurture the relationship and protect it from harm and to fix it if damaged. Both partners care about each other's needs and must be willing to put each other's needs first--including being willing to make personal sacrifices for the good of the relationship. The partners should be willing to depend on each other and feel secure that each will be loyal to each other and to the relationship.