Sexual Passion in Committed Relationships: Measurement and Conceptual Issues


passion, sexuality, couples, relationship satisfaction


The purpose of this study is to discuss the need for a new triadic model of sexual passion in relationships and to present the preliminary psychometric properties of a scale designed to measure these three approaches to passion (harmonious, obsessive, and inhibited) for use in clinical and scholarly work. Existing theory and measures of general passion are based on a dualistic model of passion that includes the harmonious and obsessive approaches to passion. We added the inhibited approach to passion from the sexuality research and develop measures for assessing sexual passion in relationships. We utilized an Amazon Mechanical Turk sample of 1,421 individuals in committed relationships to test this measure. Reliability analyses and confirmatory factory analyses evinced that these three approaches to sexual passion were unique constructs and distinct from sexual satisfaction. Sexual passion showed predictive validity above and beyond relationship length, sexual desire toward a partner, and a broader variable of sexual drive. Harmonious sexual passion robustly predicted higher sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction, and inhibited sexual passion moderately predicted lower sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction. Obsessive sexual passion had minimal associations with either outcome. These new constructs, especially harmonious and inhibited sexual passion, may help scholars and practitioners improve their understanding of sexual satisfaction and overall relationship satisfaction.

Original Publication Citation

Busby, D. M., Chiu, H-Y, Leonhardt, N. D., Iliff, E. (2019). Sexual passion in committed relationships: Measurement and conceptual issues. Family Process, 58, 734-748.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Family Process




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor