A study ran by a Canadian researcher found that passion can be divided into two types:  harmonious and obsessive. Dr. Robert Vallerand states that harmonious passion is present when we partake in an activity that we adore and feel pleased both throughout the activity and once we complete it.  When we participate in an activity that brings us harmonious passion, we are more engaged, concentrate at a greater level, and we feel happier.

The other category of passion is obsessive passion. This sort of passion transpires when an overwhelming desire to participate in the endeavor triggers pressure (such as those people who can’t stop playing a game; continuously experiencing a desire to move on to the next level).  Sure, you love what you’re doing – however, instead of you controlling the relationship, it’s controlling you. You feel compelled to continue to participate in this activity and can’t seem to pull yourself away from it.

Generally, involving yourself with something you are harmoniously passionate about increases your resilience and improves your overall happiness and health.  When you engage in obsessive passion, the opposite will occur.

Recently, Dr. Vallerand along with some of his colleagues, took a look at a different type of passion: the passion amongst romantic companions.  What they found was that the same two types of passion, obsessive and harmonious, are present within a relationship. Couples that excel and love to spend time together tend to be more harmoniously passionate and last longer, if not forever.  The couples that tend to be more obsessively passionate, don’t appreciate the process nor the product of their relationship. Rather than enjoying the time they spend together; these couples feel that their relationship is more of an obligation.

Diving into these two types of passion further, what transpires when two people in a relationship who both have harmonious passion, participate in an equally thrilling activity.  Basically, what happens when a harmoniously passionate couple loves the activity they are doing together? In short, it bolsters the relationship.

To some, this might not appear to be a noteworthy finding—but it is! Generally, for couples to improve their relationship, they should spend more time with each other.  However, these new findings show that when obsessively passionate couples participate in an activity they aren’t both harmoniously passionate about, it can be harmful to their relationship—proving that just hanging out with one another isn’t what the couple needs.  Instead, pick an activity that both of you love. There’s also an added bonus if the activity you both love is exciting! The positive energy that arises from the mutual excitement is similarly part of what will strengthen your relationship. Sharing your harmoniously passionate activities with your partner may be one of the most direct ways to improve your relationship.

“Honey, want to go sky diving this weekend?”  Might not sound like the most romantic sentence—but it just might be the most effective.