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Old 02-10-2006, 11:20 AM   #1
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had enough of romantic love?

i posted this essay around last Valentine's Day, and while my world is quite different one year later, (i seem to be in serious "like" with someone ... ahem) i still think it's a good essay and worthy of some kicking around again:



[q]Love Crimes
The absurd hype of romanticism.

I know this isn't exactly the week to say it, but can we please ease up on our secular cult of romantic love?

As almost any serious person before the 19th century would have told you, the concept is a crock. To paraphrase Aristotle, it's a benighted attempt to found friendship on beauty. To quote Montaigne, it is "impetuous and fickle, a feverish flame." Shakespeare got this, too. His transcendent celebration of love, "Romeo and Juliet," begins with Romeo's obsessive infatuation with a young woman he can barely let out of his sight. That woman is called Rosalind. Then Romeo meets Juliet, and Rosalind has about the longevity of an Internet start-up. Love is like that, Shakespeare seems to imply. It comes; it goes. If taken too seriously, it kills. Remember what happened to the star-crossed lovers? Compared with true friendship or patriotism or maternal love, romance is a joke of a feeling. Yet this joke, our culture tells us, is now the secret to true and lasting happiness.

[...]

But ever wonder why divorce rates are so high? The real culprit isn't some kind of moral collapse. It's excessive expectations, driven and fueled by the civic religion of romance. For a lucky few, infatuation sometimes does lead to lasting love, and love to family, and family to all the other virtues our preachers and politicians regularly celebrate. For the other 99 percent of us, relationships are, at best, useful economic bargains and, if we're lucky, successful sexual transactions -- better than the alternative, which has long been close to social death. But thanks to the civic religion of romance, we constantly expect more and quit what we have in search of more. For the essence of romantic love is not the company of a lover but the pursuit. It's all promise with the delivery of the postal service.

O.K., so maybe I just broke up with someone, and that's why this year I feel about Valentine's Day the way some people feel about Christmas. Its main effect is not to foster warm wonderful feelings in that minuscule number of people who happen to be in love this week but to engender abiding depression, jealousy and loneliness in the rest of us who aren't.

That this cult should reach its most frenetic expression in modern democracies is no surprise. The elevation of romance into a soul-saving experience was devised by Rousseau. As Allan Bloom pointed out, Rousseau saw bourgeois love as a salve for the empty emotional center of restrained, law-bound societies. He wanted to substitute the passion of people for truth and honor and power with something just as absorbing but nowhere near as dangerous. Why not love? It flatters our narcissism. It diverts us with phony adrenaline, teases us with jealousy, hooks us with sex. It is the means by which our genes persuade our bodies to reproduce. It is so diverting that we tend to forget more pressing questions, like what to believe in or strive for. More important, in a culture in which sex is increasingly divorced from procreation, it gives copulation a new kind of purpose, apart from pleasure. It sacralizes it, dignifies it, elevates it. Love, we're told, conquers all.

The trouble is, of course, it doesn't. The love celebrated on Valentine's Day conquers nothing. It contains neither the friendship nor civility that makes marriage successful. It fulfills the way a drug fulfills -- requiring new infusions to sustain the high. It prettifies sex, but doesn't remove sex's danger or lust. And by elevating it to a personal and cultural panacea, we suffer the permanent disappointment of excessive expectations, with all of their doleful social consequences. Less -- affection, caring, friendship, the small favors of a husband for a wife after 30 years of marriage -- is far more. And by knocking romance off its Hallmark pedestal, we might go some small way to restoring the importance and dignity of these less glamorous but more fulfilling relationships. "If love were all," Noel Coward once wrote, "I should be lonely." But it isn't. And nobody else's Valentine card should persuade you that loneliness is the only alternative.
[/q]
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Old 02-10-2006, 11:57 AM   #2
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Yeah, I'd giv it up for a miracle drug..

Sorry. Couldn't resist the sideways slapshot. To be serious, I'm agreeing with that whole statement. I roll my eyes every time someone says 'Happy Valentine's Day' to me. Last year, the church I attend handed out red roses to all the females in the church. I 'accidentally' left mine behind (now, had it been godiva or ghiradellli chocolate, however..). I don't go for romantic love. It's silly, it's not worth trying to get, because you'll always fail. I'd rather have the relationship that's based on friendship and respect. Mature love flows out of that, because then you're with that person, warty ass and all.
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Old 02-10-2006, 01:18 PM   #3
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This year at least, I roll my eyes at romantic love.

I'd rather have a companion that shares the same interests.

Most often romantic love fades, people grow and change and the idea that there is only one "the one" I don't buy anymore.

*curious to see if I feel the same way next year
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Old 02-10-2006, 01:32 PM   #4
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An attempt to isolate and enjoy one aspect of love will be frustrating in the long run.

It is like chewing food to enjoy the taste, but separating that act from regular eating. Embrace the whole process, not the isolated part that purports to give us joy.
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Old 02-10-2006, 02:26 PM   #5
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Romantic love is a bunch of BS, I don't believe in it

I believe in the rare real love that has nothing to do with "romance"
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Old 02-10-2006, 03:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
I believe in the rare real love that has nothing to do with "romance"
Are they mutually exclusive though? Or does romance just evolve in expression over the course of time in a relationship?

From wooing grand gestures to small, simple acts of kindness and sharing.

I think real love has a lot of romance but it just doesn't look like the exaggerated package that's being presented to us that warps people's expectations.
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Old 02-10-2006, 04:51 PM   #7
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Does romance come first? Or does love?
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Old 02-10-2006, 05:12 PM   #8
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Romantic love=
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Old 02-10-2006, 07:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
Does romance come first? Or does love?
I don't think romance could happen unless one of partners feels love. So I guess love is first..
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Old 02-10-2006, 11:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
Does romance come first? Or does love?
I'd say love comes before true romance.

Lust can happen at any time.
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Old 02-11-2006, 09:40 AM   #11
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I think romance comes first, I associate romance with initial infatuation, lust, and all that. To me that's not love, real love can be very romantic though. I know that makes no sense..

Don't ask me though, I really know nothing about all of it

By Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience managing editor
LiveScience
Updated: 8:35 p.m. ET Feb. 10, 2006

Altruism may breed better marriages, a new study suggests. Or, the data might mean that good marriages make people more altruistic.

Whatever, altruism and happiness seem to go together in the realm of love.

"Altruistic love was associated with greater happiness in general and especially with more marital happiness," Tom Smith of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago concludes in a report released Thursday.

Study participants were asked whether they agreed with statements that define altruism, such as, "I'd rather suffer myself than let the one I love suffer," and "I'm willing to sacrifice my own wishes to let the one I love achieve his or hers."

Those who agreed with the statements tended to also report happiness with their spouses.

Among the more altruistic, 67 percent rated their own marriage as "very happy." Among those who were profiled as the least altruistic, only 50 percent said they were very happy in marriage.

And here's one for those of you who are still waiting for your partner to commit: Forty percent of the married people ranked near the top for altruistic responses, while only 20 percent of those who had never married did so. The divorced and separated came in at around 25 percent.

The study asked dozens of questions to gauge both altruistic intentions and behaviors. How often do you give blood? Do you return money when a cashier makes a mistake in your favor?

Rising altruism
In a separate finding, Smith looked at a similar study from 2002 and found that altruistic feelings are on the rise. The number of people having "tender, concerned feelings toward the less fortunate" rose 5 percent, to 75 percent.

Smith speculated why:

"People have been suffering more negative life events than in the past, and as such there is greater need for caring and assistance," he said. "Likewise, there is greater disparity between the rich and the poor with the lot of the former, but not of the latter, improving in recent years."

It's not known if altruism begets a good marriage or vice versa.

But Smith said connection between romantic love and altruistic behavior probably comes from an appreciation of love developed in a healthy marriage and reflects the connection between marriage and love in general, which is part of the teachings of many religions.

The study found that people who pray every day performed, on average, 77 acts of altruism a year vs. 60 for those who never pray.

Men vs. women
Altruistic love scores were higher for women who are homemakers than women who work outside the home. Men scored higher than women. "This may be because there is an element of heroic stoicism and being a protector," Smith writes in the report.

Altruism runs higher among older people and those with college educations.

Smith also analyzed empathy, described as feeling protective of others or concerned for the less fortunate. Some of the findings:
# Women have a greater feeling of empathy than men.
# Children from two-parent homes are more empathetic.
# Girls raised by a single father are the least likely to develop empathy.
# Financial status bears little on altruism or empathy.
# People who vote are more empathetic and altruistic.
# Empathy is higher among those who fear crime.
# Empathy is higher among those who support increased spending on social programs.

The research was based on data from in-home surveys conducted every two years with support from the National Science Foundation. Smith used data from the 2004 survey, of 1,329 adults, and compared it with the 2002 result

..........................................................

I don't buy so many of the results/conclusions in this survey but I do think true love and altruism are closely associated.
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Old 02-11-2006, 01:07 PM   #12
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I would say altruism is a subset or byproduct of true love - the volitional decision to love another.
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Old 02-11-2006, 02:04 PM   #13
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Hmmm, isn't the article suggesting that real love is a by-product of altruism?

What kinds of gestures does everyone think are truly romantic?
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Old 02-11-2006, 02:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
Altruism may breed better marriages, a new study suggests. Or, the data might mean that good marriages make people more altruistic.

Looks like a chicken and egg question
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Old 02-11-2006, 06:17 PM   #15
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On the surface it does, but I'm thinking it comes down to give and you shall receive.
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