Romantic love and sexual desire in close relationships

Emotion. 2006 May;6(2):163-79. doi: 10.1037/1528-3542.6.2.163.


Drawing on recent claims in the study of relationships, attachment, and emotion, the authors hypothesized 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Attitude / ethnology
  • Biomarkers
  • Cues
  • Demography
  • Ethnicity / psychology
  • Expressed Emotion
  • Facial Expression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Libido*
  • Love*
  • Male
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Object Attachment
  • Oxytocin / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Partners*
  • Social Desirability*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Biomarkers
  • Oxytocin