Companionate love

Companionate or conjugal love seems a far less intense emotion than passionate love, although it involves feelings of deep attachment, commitment, sharing, and intimacy. As with passionate love, Hatfield and Rapson have attempted a definition. Com-panionate love is:

The affection and tenderness we feel for those with whom our lives are deeply entwined, companionate love is a complex functional whole including appraisals or appreciations, subjective feelings, expressions, patterned physiological processes, action tendencies, and instrumental behaviours. (1993, p. 9)

Again, this definition is perhaps not quite adequate. Much of these definitions of passionate love and companionate love are word for word the same and there is very little explication of how one differs from the other. Is companionate love, in Hatfield and Rapson's eyes, merely passionate love that has lost its intensity? Certainly, com-panionate love seems more approachable in theoretical terms than its passionate counterpart. It seems that companionate love can be conceptualised in a similar way to the analysis of happiness presented earlier. The crucial difference is that the goal domains and levels that drive the emotion of happiness are essentially those of the individual, whereas for the emotion of companionate love it is necessary to apply a dyadic framework. Companionate love is a function not only of having an investment in one's own goals but also an investment in the goals of our partner in the various domains of self, other, and self plus other. Furthermore, requited companionate love involves the sense that our own goals across various domains are shared by our partner. This sharing of goals leads to the sense of feeling understood and accepted, of sharing a sense of union, and feeling secure and safe, which characterise com-panionate love.

Perhaps discovering the potential for such sharing of goals across different domains is what is going on in passionate love. One can speculate that passionate love is the enthralling, desperate, exciting whirlwind of emotions that arises from the discovery that here is someone with whom I can potentially share goals and needs, and who can share his or hers with me. Perhaps, as Oatley suggests, such monumental mutual planning is so daunting a prospect that we need something like passionate love to blind us to all the possible pitfalls!

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