March 18, 2009

Romance need not fizzle, can last lifetime

Romance does not have to fizzle out in long-term relationships, but can last a lifetime, U.S. researchers said.

Lead researcher Bianca P. Acevedo, who was Stony Brook University and is currently at University of California, Santa Barbara, said many believe that romantic love is the same as passionate love.

It isn't. Romantic love has the intensity, engagement and sexual chemistry that passionate love has, minus the obsessive component, Acevedo said in a statement. Passionate or obsessive love includes feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. This kind of love helps drive the shorter relationships, but not the longer ones.

Acevedo and Arthur Aron reviewed 25 studies with 6,070 individuals in short- and long-term relationships to find out whether romantic love is associated with more satisfaction. Long-term relationships were defined as married 10 years or more.

They classified 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.

The review, published in the Review of General Psychology, found that those who reported greater romantic love were more satisfied in both the short- and long-term relationships. Couples who reported more satisfaction in their relationships also reported being happier and having higher self-esteem.

Feeling that a partner is there for you makes for a good relationship, Acevedo said, and facilitates feelings of romantic love.