Why Love is Not Enough in Long-Term Relationships

The power of love seems to have swept over the heart of many to the extent that some have come to see it as the be-all and end-all solution to their problems. However, many before them that felt that same way about love have to come realize the truth that love is not enough.

In fact, love is one of the most difficult things to handle in the world. And though many like to love “love”, they however lack a clear understanding of what true love actually is.

A lot of people have come to love the idea of love so much that they have forgotten or probably never gotten to fully understand what it actually meant to love someone.

Obviously, there’s so much idealization of love that has taken it to an all new level where most people see it as the answer to everything.

As a result, this conceptualization of love has set up so many individuals into emphatically believing that the feeling it gives is all that is needed to conquer all possible challenges in a loving relationship.

Regardless, many people still wonder about what the limits of true love could actually be, if there are any. Thus, most people actually want to know the reasons why love is not enough?

Why Love is Not Enough

To talk about why love is not enough in a relationship, the first questions we should really be asking are, what is love and which kind of love are we talking about. This is very critical to making any reasonable summations about this issue.

For the most part, what people mostly refer to as love as the euphoric feelings they experience during the initial stages of dating. They simply anticipate that this feeling will go on forever.

If this is the ideology you have about love, then you really need to wake up. Such “puppy love” won’t get you far on your journey to “happily ever after.”

The problem is that the ideology most people have about love is largely based on what the mass media has fed them with. And it’s a serious problem.

It’s serious because it’s not something that just started all of a sudden. Not at all. If you’re talking about marriage or committing to a relationship, then you should have spent at least twenty years on the planet called earth.

That is a long time for most of the mass media inundations about romantic love to have deeply settled into the sub-consciousness of most people.

As you read this, experts clearly say that most Westerners get married mostly based on the principle of “being in love” with their intending-partners. But what type of love are they referring to?

The Types of Love

Hitherto, the description of love has mostly tilted towards the passionate or romantic type of love.

While there might be several types of loves described by many people, relationships experts and scientist have come to acknowledge two basic kinds of love. These are romantic love and companionate love.

A distinction between the two basic kinds of loves can greatly help to drive home the reason why love is not enough to sustain a healthy long-term relationship. In fact, both kinds of love hold the key to understanding how love works best in a relationship.

Romantic Love

Also called “passionate love,” “obsessive love,” “infatuation,” “lovesickness,” or “being-in-love,” romantic love is a powerful emotional state. Romantic love basically derives from the combination of strong feelings of intimacy and passion.

It involves the element of arousal that is brought about by physical attraction and its concomitants. Romantic lovers are not only drawn physically to each other but are also bonded emotionally.

However, the first flush of falling in love, as in a romantic or passionate love affair, cannot endure forever. Eventually, the intensity must cool because other areas of life require attention.

As a result, one of the frequent findings from most experts and people’s overall experience, is that it is difficult to maintain romantic love over a long period of time.

Companionate Love

This is a type of love that is characterized by respect, admiration, and interpersonal trust and rewards. It also features a high degree of affection and closeness. Companionate love is also termed affectionate love, tender love, true love, and marital love.

Essentially, companionate love is a long-term, stable, and committed friendship. Other essential features include high amounts of emotional intimacy, the decision to love the partner, and the commitment to remain in the relationship. This is the state of love that most people call “friendship love”.

Initial love concepts were of the opinion that passionate love comes first. Then, if a relationship endures the initial romantic stages, it evolves into companionate love.

However, recent research shows that this thinking need not necessarily apply in all situations. It is therefore possible for couples to have both types of love at the same time. Yet, the maintenance of this state of love is very difficult to achieve.

Components of Love

Several researchers have studied the 60-plus attributes that people have consistently associated with love. Results revealing the features of both passionate and companionate love shows that companionate loves rates as the most typical meaning of love.

The features that were named consistently in defining true love included caring, trust, respect, honesty, and friendship.

Further complex analysis of these love features showed that all love comprises of:

  1. Passion
  2. Intimacy
  3. Commitment

From the standpoint of most love researchers, intimacy is intrinsically more important than passion when defining love in a relationship. These studies also show that companionate love is the most general type of love.

Importance of Intimacy

The component of intimacy evidently underlies both romantic and companionate love experiences. The features of intimacy include feelings of warmth, understanding, communication, support, and sharing that often characterize loving relationships.

It would thus be safe to conclude that its development is extremely important in sustaining a long-term relationship.

Overall, the elements of intimacy and commitment present in companionate love may be more important than the combination of intimacy and passion in terms of sustaining a long-term loving relationship.

Effect of the Passage of Time

Undoubtedly, the passage of time will have a corrosive effect on love in general but its effect will be to varying degrees. Most research evidence indicate that time has a more destructive effect on romantic love than on companionate love.

The love in a relationship can often be complicated and tricky because of the variability that can occur in the three main component of love. As a result, people can encounter various types of love in a given relationship.

Of the three components that make up love, the passion component is arguably the most variable. At the same time, it is the one that is hardest to control. Thus, it is possible for an individual to experience a soaring desire for another and then it evaporates very rapidly due to several changes they cannot consciously control.


The survival of love is therefore predicated on the health of its three basic components of intimacy, passion, and commitment.

For instance, to maintain a true friendship, which is what companionate love is all about, requires a lot of effort and commitment.

Based on these classifications and descriptions of what love is, it is obvious that love cannot stand on its own.

Thus, the reason why love is not enough is based on the fact that to maintain the three components of love involves the development and maintenance of other relational components that are outside of love itself.