Mon+10.18+love1 - Emotion 2006 Vol 6 No 2 163179 Copyright...

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Romantic Love and Sexual Desire in Close Relationships Gian C. Gonzaga University of California, Los Angeles Rebecca A. Turner Alliant International University and University of California, San Francisco Dacher Keltner University of California, Berkeley Belinda Campos University of California, Los Angeles Margaret Altemus Weill Medical College, Cornell University Drawing on recent claims in the study of relationships, attachment, and emotion, the authors hypothe- sized that romantic love serves a commitment-related function and sexual desire a reproduction-related function. Consistent with these claims, in Study 1, brief experiences of romantic love and sexual desire observed in a 3-min interaction between romantic partners were related to distinct feeling states, distinct nonverbal displays, and commitment- and reproductive-related relationship outcomes, respectively. In Study 2, the nonverbal display of romantic love was related to the release of oxytocin. Discussion focuses on the place of romantic love and sexual desire in the literature on emotion. Keywords: romantic love, sexual desire, emotion, facial expression, relationship functioning The study of emotions in close relationships has yielded two complementary insights. First, emotions and their many manifes- tations are profoundly relational: They occur, in significant part, to coordinate social interactions within relationships (e.g., Tiedens & Leach, 2004). Second, emotions expressed by individuals shape the content and direction of relationships. For example, the occur- rence of brief emotions such as contempt or amusement reveals a great deal about the likelihood that a couple will stay together or dissolve (Gottman & Levenson, 2000). In this article, we present two studies that examine the forms and functions of romantic love and sexual desire in romantic relation- ships. Following Diamond (2003, 2004), we define romantic love as a motivational state associated with feelings of attachment and the inclination to seek commitment with one partner, and we define sexual desire as a motivational state that leads the individual to seek opportunities for sexual activity. We rely on the methods of affective science—the study of subjective experience, commu- nicative display, relational outcomes, and physiological mark- ers—to test hypotheses about the distinct functions of romantic love and sexual desire. In the General Discussion, we address the question of whether romantic love and sexual desire are emotions. Romantic Love and Sexual Desire as Separate Relational Processes Two schools of thought converge on the notion that romantic love and sexual desire are independent relational processes. Rela- tionship researchers have long grappled with the question of how romantic love and sexual desire emerge and evolve over the course of intimate relationships (Aron & Aron, 1998; Hatfield, 1988; Gian C. Gonzaga and Belinda Campos, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles; Rebecca A. Turner, California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University, and
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