Passion and Love: Separate States or Intrinsically Intertwined?

Valentine’s Day is here, and relationships are likely on most people’s minds. Whether you’re paired or single, the interplay of love and passion is interesting food for thought. Some people separate these two concepts into distinct categories, and for others, they are one.

When we think about what passion and love are, however, it becomes clear that this area of life is anything but cut and dry. 

Passion, by nature, is easier to define than love. We’re all familiar with that can’t-live-without-each-other gotta-have-them-now feeling. This is passion. It’s often associated with the “honeymoon phase” of a relationship — that “sunshine and roses” state where everything is perfect and the two of you are floating in a bubble of bliss. 

Love, on the other hand, is tricky — if not impossible — to didactically define. While the experience of love is universal, how it is experienced by individuals, and in partnerships, is highly personal. We can safely say that love is characterized by communication, a “common wavelength,” if you will, and a desire to care for a person and make them happy.

As to how you know whether or not you are in love, many people will say, “If it’s love, you know.” One poetic viewpoint is that when two people are in love and nurture that love, the relationship takes on a life of its own, bigger than the sum of its parts. 

Conversely, by this line of thinking, if you are unsure about a person, or can see yourself in a “better” situation, it’s not love. However, some people, due to a cautious nature or being hurt in the past, will hesitate to admit to love — even to themselves — out of a fear of rejection, or out of a fear of losing oneself. In these cases, defining love becomes even more difficult.

Attempting a definition of this universal but intangible state, E.B. White and James Thurber, in their book Is Sex Necessary?, define love as: 

“The strange bewilderment which overtakes one person on account of another person … the pleasant confusion which we know exists.”

This is a beautiful sentiment, and one that touches on the ethereal nature of love. 

So, what is the relationship between passion and love? Most of us can recall a time when we were swept up in passion, only to see it fizzle out over time, leaving nothing in its place. Passion, because it is all-consuming on the brain, can feel a lot like love at the time, leaving many a victim confused and questioning their sanity when it fades.

Loving couple in the park. Vintage retro style with light leaksLove, conversely, is something that endures. Many a happily married couple will tell you that it takes a lot of work. To make a loving relationship last requires mutual respect, communication (that’s a big one!), a willingness to give of oneself, and intertwining your path in life with another’s — sharing a common dream. While this is a lot of work, if you are in love, it is joyful work — one of the most highly rewarding things in life.

As far as love and passion, I’d say that the secret of true love is to keep the passion alive and sparkling, throughout the everyday struggles and the highs and lows of life. This takes genuine connection, the ability to listen, and looking at your partner with fresh, grateful eyes every time you see him or her. To paraphrase Roald Dahl, if you believe in magic, you will find it.

White and Thurber have the following to say about passion and love:

“The fact of the matter is, it’s very difficult to tell love from passion. My advice to anyone who doesn’t feel sure of the difference between them is either to give them both up or quit trying to split hairs.” 

There you have it. Passion and love are obviously connected. How you navigate them, and connect them, depends on you and your relationship. I’m a strong believer that when it’s real, you know, and that true love has a magic of its own. I’d also go so far as to say that if you need a textbook definition of being in love, you’re missing the point.

What are your thoughts?

—Tanya Rakhmilevich

Tanya is a writer at The Alternative Daily with a passion for meditation, music, poetry, and overall creative and active living. She has a special interest in exploring traditional Eastern remedies and superfoods from around the globe, and enjoys spending time immersed in nature.



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