A Closer Look at Sexual Passion in Relationships


sexual passion, couple relationships, sexuality, couple data


Objectives The objectives were to examine the recently emerging topic of sexual passion in relationships by addressing four research questions: Was sexual passion in a relationship distinct from general passion for sexuality, general passion in life, and romantic passion? Did the different sexual passion styles in a relationship meet the criteria for a passion? What were general descriptive statistics for passion styles in a nationally representative sample? Was obsessive sexual passion relevant when explored in more depth?

Methods Data were collected data on a variety of measures from three distinct samples, including a sample of 1776 individuals in a committed romantic relationship sampled from the Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk); a nationally representative newly married sample of 1813 couples; and a sample of 244 couples from MTurk.

Results Sexual passion in relationships was strongly associated with sexual and relationship satisfaction and was distinct from other constructs such as general passion, romantic passion, and general sexual passion. The results from the couple datasets demonstrated that the harmonious passion style was the most common of the three styles and was the most predictive of relationship outcomes. The inhibited sexual passion style had substantial negative associations with relationship outcomes. Couples where one partner had higher scores on obsessive sexual passion and the other partner had higher scores on inhibited sexual passion had lower scores on relationship outcomes.

Conclusions The results provided support for the importance of sexual passion in relationships and the differential associations of the three passion styles with sexual and relationship satisfaction.

Original Publication Citation

Busby, D.M., Leonhardt, N.D. & James, S. A Closer Look at Sexual Passion in Relationships. Journal of Child and Family Studies (2019).

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Child and Family Studies




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor