Happy couple with wine

How does intimacy influence a couple’s passion?

How does intimacy in a long term relationship influence passion?

Intimacy refers to three characteristics of the relationship: Mutual sharing of personal information, attitudes show a strong preference for each other and verbally and physically expressed affection.

Observations of Baumeister and Bratslavsky argue that passion is experienced in periods that the intimacy levels are rising. They argue that the most intense passion is experienced when intimacy is rapidly growing. In periods were intimacy remains stable (either high or low), passion is low. In the early stages of a relationship, the intimacy levels usually rise rapidly and then intense passion is experienced.

In the next stages of the relationship, intimacy levels rise gently and slowly, because there is a limit in the intimacy level that is feasible for a couple to achieve. At that time, the erotic passion experienced is infrequent and mild.

Do all people have the same need for closeness?

Some people need more intimacy in order to feel the same level of passion with others. It looks like women, compared to men, need greater intimacy to feel passion.

Growing research data supports that intimacy is more important for women’s sexual desire compared to men. This asymmetry is often a source of not only of a lack of passion, but also intense dissatisfaction. For intimacy to be high, it is beneficial to invest in seeking common pleasurable and novel experiences. However, when the distance they feel is too large, couple therapy can help.

Baumeister RF (1999) Passion, intimacy, and time: passionate love as a function of change in intimacy. Pers Soc Psychol Rev 3: 49-67.


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