From passionate love to partner love
The Italian sociologist Francesco Alberoni is the author of an influential theory on couple relationships, developed in his essay Enamamiento y amor, where he reminds us that all relationships begin with a first phase of passionate love, a vital revolution that can also lead to social transgression. This is why the most restrictive societies try to control this feeling. The so-called Romeo and Juliet syndrome – the separation of worlds that makes it difficult for two people to come together – can increase the heat at this stage. Passion creates a nascent state from which individuals attempt to start a new life. And breaking the social rules that separate them is a good way to do it.
But Alberoni reminds us that this altered state of consciousness is untenable. In a few years, passionate love turns into partner love. The two subjects stop staring at each other constantly and start looking into the future together. Shared life goals, ways of understanding each other’s world and joint plans are put into play.
Theories of social exchange analyze human relations in terms of costs and benefits. The stability of the couple in the stage of partner love would depend on the rewards derived from the exchange of psychological resources with the other. If the ideologies are contrary, the costs are many: there are continuous discussions about the different ways of seeing reality. And the benefits are very few, since it is difficult to build with someone who dreams of a vital architecture antagonistic to ours.
The opposing worlds mix very well in the passionate love phase. Like water and oil, they can combine if continuously stirred. But when you enter the stage of partner love, these relationships lose stability. Romeo and Juliet would not have lasted five years together if they had stayed alive.