Mind & Body

How Passionate Is Your Relationship? This Research-Backed Quiz Will Tell You

It's hard to define love. You can tell by the sheer number of definitions floating around: love is patient and kind; love is a shift in brain activity; love is a drug. Passionate love is even harder to pin down. Luckily, science is on the case.

Related Video: Love Is the Key to Happiness

The Essence of Passion

In a 1986 study, researchers Elaine Hatfield and Susan Sprecher of Illinois State University defined passionate love as more or less puppy love: the kind most common among people between 13 and 22. If puppy love sounds a little saccharine for your tastes, keep in mind that passionate love can be dark, too — it's basically what killed Romeo and Juliet.

This oscillation between syrupy sweetness and darkness actually defines passionate love, the researchers argued. It's all about high highs, low lows, and virtually ceaseless intensity. A person in passionate love feels euphoria when they're with their beloved and despair when they can't be. Passionate love is so intense that it comes with physical symptoms. We're talking dizziness, butterflies in your stomach, weak knees, and rapid breathing. In other words, being in passionate love and having a panic attack aren't totally different.

But at least one scientist argues passionate love is more like taking amphetamines. The same chemical compound, phenylethylamine, causes an amphetamine high and lifts your mood when you're with a passionate love interest. And like addiction, passionate love can cause obsessive, intrusive thoughts.

One interesting wrinkle in passionate love, the researchers found, is that the feelings don't have to be mutual for you to be in passionate love. Unrequited love can be passionate, too. It's agonizing, sure, but there's agony in every passionate love. Reciprocated love is just painful for different reasons: jealousy, insecurity, and the inevitable separation that comes with being alive. (You can't be together all the time — you have to go to work!)

Because unrequited love can also be passionate, it's unclear where the passion comes from. It doesn't necessarily ignite when you find out your romantic feelings are reciprocated — some people feel passion that's never reciprocated, and some couples love each other without much passion. If we can't pinpoint passion's cause, though, we can at least identify it. That's where the researchers' Passionate Love Scale comes in.

The Quiz

This quiz is the abbreviated version of Hatfield and Sprecher's Passionate Love Scale. It consists of 15 statements that, if true, mean you're in passionate love. To create the scale, the researchers drew from a mix of interviews, literature, and other psychologists' love-related scales.

To start the quiz, enter your age and gender, and choose a relationship to evaluate. The authors recommend you use your most passionate current relationship or, if you're single, your most recent passionate relationship.

From there, you'll move on to the 15 statements, such as "I want my partner physically, emotionally and mentally" and "Sometimes I feel I can't control my thoughts; they are obsessively on my partner." (Passionate love isn't always healthy!) For each statement, you can choose from five responses, which range from "Not at all true" to "Definitely true."

Ultimately, your result will place you on a passion scale that runs from "Frosty" to "Extreme." Keep in mind, though, that passion is associated with adolescence, so having a relationship that isn't "Extreme" might just be a sign of maturity and not a lack of love.

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For a no-nonsense take on modern love from a past guest of the Curiosity Podcast, check out "The All-or-Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work" by Eli Finkel. The audiobook is free with a trial of Audible. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Mae Rice October 26, 2018

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