Companionship v. Romantic Love: No Contest!

Companionship is that state of being friends, but it goes a deeper than even a friendship. It is a closeness or familiarity, a true fellowship among two people who for whatever reasons have truly connected. It is the word that comes to up whenever I have interviewed and counseled life-long partners.

People describe companionship is many ways-a cozy feeling, a nice full feeling after a pleasant meal with family or friends, or that easy rhythm you fall into with the familiar.

In a relationship, companionship would seem to be the basis for two people wanting to remain together, yet many are torn between the importance of companionship verse romantic or passionate love.

As a relationship counselor, I have seen far too many “could be” companionships end because one person desires romantic love, and the other person desires security first.  In the truest sense, if they could come to a consensus, they could have a companionship that satisfies both parties.

Companionship can come with or without a sexual aspect, but it goes a lot deeper than “friends with benefits.”

Songs and books are written about romantic love and friendships.  But, in reality, companionship is by far more intimate, than romance or friendship.  Passion is great, it feels great, and there is nothing like passionate interactions which can include the deep passionate sexual interaction or the passion of just being together with the person you desire.

However, passion is fleeting, or it can take place without the aid of a single real emotion other than a sexual desire for one another.   It might last a night or continue for months, but the only time attention is paid in any great effort is while the passion is taking place.

By contrast, people who offer companionship put into the relationship their effort, concern and time. Companionship is lasting, and if it is coupled with sexual desire, it can be an experience that goes far beyond erotica and into a true state of enlightened sexual satisfaction, nirvana one might say.

Companionship runs deep between two people, lasting beyond hardship or cooled passion or the ordinariness of life. Many people are torn between companionship and romantic love because they crave passion.

However, if companionship is “done right” it can include passion as well.  Indeed, no one needs to throw away a promising relationship simply because they have stumbled into a person who is more of a companion instead of a romantic partner at first.

Two people in a companionship may have to work harder to make it work, but the benefits are usually stronger than a romantic relationship.  If you are in a companionship type of relationship and you are thinking about ending it because it does not bring you enough passion, think twice.

Before you end it all, you should take the following steps and you may just find that your companionship is the most fulfilling relationship of your life:

1)      Always, LISTEN to your partner.  Make it a point to agree to have intelligent conversations as opposed to arguments.  Arguing does not solve anything, and good relationships have been destroyed for lack of communication skills.  Listen to your partner with an open heart and do not get angry when something negative arises; this comes with emotional maturity, you have to learn to take things your partner says as constructive criticism and not an attack.

2)      Make sure your partner knows that your relationship with them is IMPORTANT.  No one wants to feel like they are being taken for granted, and this is a sure way to lose someone who could turn out to be the best thing you may ever have. 

3)      HONESTY is extremely important; there is really nothing else to say here.  Be honest with your partner, if you cannot be honest with him/her, what is the point?

4)      Make sure you are not becoming a NEEDY partner. Until you are in a committed companionship, you should be able to take care of yourself without constant aid from your partner. Nothing is less sexy than a person who cannot take care of themselves, and nothing will make someone want to get rid of you than your becoming a “drain” or a burden to them.   This is especially true with finances. 

5)      Make sure you are actively taking care of your PERSONAL APPEARANCE.  Do not get so comfortable around your companion that you are not paying attention to yourself.  Something as simple as having kempt hair, fresh breath, and well-fitting clothes can do absolute wonders for any relationship, especially if you are in a companionship that involves sexual intimacy.  People tend to relax when they know each other well, but make sure to check yourself before you decide to get too comfortable. 

6)      PACE is important.  If you are just beginning a new companionship, make sure you are not jumping into anything too fast. Take it slowly and take the time to really get to know each other before you commit.  If you do not heed this warning this will all be for naught. 

7)      SHOW, DON’T TELL. Your annoying eighth grade English teach was right.  If you care about someone, you need to show them you care.  Words are a dime a dozen, but sincere actions are worth a million bucks.

8)      Be RESPECTFUL of each other.  In order to be in a successful committed companionship that includes passion, sex and romance, you need to always be respectful of each other.  Everyone has outside commitments (if not, you need to), make sure that you are mindful and respectful of each other’s time, privacy, and your partner’s need to spend time with other people and on other activities that may not include you. 

9)      Maintain INTIMACY. If you want a successful commitment, you need to resolve to work hard to build and maintain a sense of closeness, familiarity, warmth and affection.  Your bond will break without this factor, no matter how strong it is to begin with.

10)   Be open and honest about FINANCES. Even though this one is last, it is extremely important.  Again, finances are the number one reason for break-ups of all kinds.  When you are sure that you want to build a strong relationship with your companion, you need to talk about finances with each other.  You should share your financial desires, credit reports, future investment choices, etc.  You need to make sure you are working together to achieve the same goals, and if you both are not on the same page about finances, your relationship will be in serious jeopardy.

These tasks and ideals are not in any particular order, but you do need to be sure that you are hitting all of them. 

Remember, it takes work to make a relationship last, and a successful companionship is the deepest relationship any two people can have.

With Love,
Dr. Leo Busaglia