Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This study was designed to explore nonsexual, passionate friendships between women. Particular areas of interest were challenging the binary between "just friends" and "lovers," as well as exploring the meaning of the lack of a term for identifying these friendships in women's lives. This study attempted to answer the following research question: How do women conceptualize, define, and make sense of their nonsexual, passionate friendships? This qualitative study involved interviewing 14 women selected from a sample of convenience. The interview questions were open-ended, allowing the women to share narrative accounts of their friendships in their own words. The findings indicate that women who experience passionate friendships consider such friendships to be unique, meaningful, and committed. Participants also addressed the issue of inadequacy within the language to capture the essence of their friendships. There were similar themes to traditional intimate relationships such as emotional growth and identity development fostered by the friendship, jealousy, break-ups, and shifts and changes in the relationship. There also was a blending of the language used to describe non-sexual intimate friendships and the language used to describe sexual relationships, and occasionally a blending of the emotions and sexual feelings between the two kinds of relationships. More research is essential to further understand nonsexual, passionate friendships and to better enable clinicians to validate and mirror their clients.


iii, 78 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 68-71).