The subjective experience of intimacy, passion, and commitment in heterosexual loving relationships


Address reprint requests to Peter J. Marston, Department of Speech Communication, California State University, Northridge, CA 91330-8257.


Lovers’responses to open-ended questions concerning the experience and communication of intimacy, passion, and commitment were content- and factor-analyzed. These analyses resulted in six ways of experiencing intimacy (openness, sex, affection, supportiveness, togetherness, and quiet company); two ways of experiencing passion (romance and sexual intimacy); and five ways of experiencing commitment (supportiveness, expressions of love, fidelity, expressions of commitment, and consideration and devotion). These results suggest that love, intimacy, passion, and commitment are best conceived as related, overlapping gestalts in the subjective experiences of actual lovers.