Guest Essay

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 259-278

First online:

Passionate love/sexual desire: Can the same paradigm explain both?

  • Elaine HatfieldAffiliated withUniversity of Hawaii at Manoa
  • , Richard L. RapsonAffiliated withUniversity of Hawaii at Manoa

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Two decades ago, experimental social psychologists became interested in the emotion of passionate love, “the desire for union with another.” Recently, sex researchers have begun to focus on sexual desire, “the desire for sexual union with another,” or the loss thereof. In this paper we review what experimental social psychologists have learned about the nature of passionate love in the last two decades and contrast their view of passion with that of sex researchers, especially with regard to the role that anxiety plays in the intensification/dimunution of passion. Finally, we suggest that researchers might profitably use the same paradigm to study these heretofore separate phenomena.

Key words

passionate love lovesickness sexual desire anxiety