Would you rather have your partner love you with the
burning fire of a thousand suns or the sustained warmth of a well-tended
If the popularity of romance novels and movies depicting
passionate love stories is any indication, chances are most of us would rather
be loved with the fire of a thousand suns. Otherwise, where are the works of
art, literature and film that celebrate lukewarm love?
Here’s the thing, though: If you want to be in a marriage for the long haul, being loved less passionately is your best bet. At least that’s the
argument that Aaron Ben-Zeév, a professor of philosophy at the
University of Haifa, argues in Psychology
Ben-Zeév is considered an expert in the study of emotions
and his recent research revolves around love and romantic compromises, including this whole issue of passionate love versus mild love, and which one is better.
"Romantic intensity is not the same as romantic depth.
Romantic intensity is a snapshot of an emotional peak at a given moment; it
refers to the momentary degree of passionate (often sexual) desire," Ben-Zeév writes. "Romantic
depth goes beyond romantic intensity to include the dimension of time, as
establishing depth requires time."
Makes sense. Sort of like you can feel love at first sight,
but you can’t turn that love into a great love at first sight; it takes time.
Although mild love certainly doesn’t seem as sexy or
desirable as passionate love in a marriage, it’s important to keep in mind that
mild love isn’t without its ups and downs, as well.
aspect central to the nature of mild love
is its given baseline position and the frequency of passionate peaks," Ben-Zeév explains, "which
occur much less often when compared with the peaks found in torrid affairs, for
In long-term relationships, it’s not the
passionate peaks, big sacrifices or intensity that make love endure or grow; it’s the
small day-to-day kindnesses, compromises and appreciation that strengthen the
bond between a couple. (Like unloading the dishwasher.)
“Go ahead, tell your partner you feel a mild and calm
love—one that will last,” Ben-Zeév advises, but who really wants to hear that?
Is there really
any harm in telling your significant other that you love them to the moon and
back when, really, you love them sitting next to you on the sofa every evening
while you argue about what to watch on Netflix?
Sure, the "rip the clothes off each other" kind of passionate
love may be what you choose to watch on screen, but mild, deep and
mutually satisfying love is what you want to crawl into bed with every night.