Passion vs. Love

Love and passion are often confused.Love and passion are often confused.

You might wonder if passion equates love and vice versa. If you believe romance novels and cinematic love stories are based in reality, then some individuals believe there can be no love without passion. Passion has meaning beyond a romantic relationship. It can mean an intense relationship with someone or refer to the intense interest in things such as music or dance. Learn the characteristics of both so you don't confuse them.

Defining Love

Love is an emotion that combines attraction and need for someone or something. Love can exist without passion, according to psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne in her "Psychology Today" blog. Love can be selfless and all consuming, gentle or intense, affectionate and sexual or platonic. You can love a romantic partner, your family, your pet, an object or an idea.

Defining Passion

Passion is commonly associated with love and is measured by it's intensity. The dictionary defines it as ardent joy and desire for someone or something. In a romantic relationship, it can ebb after a couple of years, according to Whitbourne, but rebound when the kids head off to college. It can die if you don't feed it with time spent together and a desire to give your partner your best.


For many, passion includes lust and can be associated with negative connotations if passion rules your life. Conversely, love almost always has a positive connotation and generally seeks the best for another when it rules the relationship. This is the fundamental difference between passion and love.

Positive Aspects of Love

Love is often freely given for the good of others. Although you want to be loved, you can love another with requiring reciprocation. Love can lead you to sacrifice what you want for the benefit of another. It may quietly guide your relationship without becoming physical or needing frequent contact.


Passion may accompany love, and love may burn passionately. Unconditional love for family and close friends can exist for a lifetime without passion or desire. Intense love affairs do have passion, however not all loving relationships are built upon it.

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About the Author

Rina Shah is a law student with degrees in psychology and business administration from the University of Texas and a Master of Science from the London School of Economics. She has worked in law, nonprofits, information technology and teaching. Shah has over five years of experience writing for various purposes on the job and more than 10 years of academic writing.

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