Trajectories of love: Affective reciprocity during kissing in the everyday life of romantic couples

Julia Katila, Asta Cekaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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This study inspects the interactional emergence of affective reciprocity—the mutual exchange of affection—in the everyday life of romantic couples in their homes. It utilizes video analysis of naturally occurring interactions to uncover how affective reciprocity is accomplished in and through trajectories of love or interaction trajectories ending up in kissing or touching in an affectionate manner. A detailed empirical analysis demonstrates that affective reciprocity during such trajectories is nascent in the participants' similar and equivalent ways of attuning to one another via aligning expressions of affection. A distinct feature of affective reciprocity during trajectories of love is that its participants do not simply agree and respond to kiss or touch, but show their willingness to do so, and display enjoyment when it happens. Utilizing Merleau-Ponty's (1962, 1964a) ideas on love, and his theory on the intercorporeality of bodies, the study proposes that love can be viewed as an affectionate we-relationship that becomes salient in moment-by-moment acts of affective reciprocity occurring during mundane interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-53
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Affective reciprocity
  • Intercorporeality
  • Kissing trajectories
  • Love
  • Romantic couples
  • Video analysis

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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