The Definition of Love
The concept of “romantic love” is usually included in the constant endeavor to the perfect state of constant love and mystical worship of the female principle. To a large extent, this understanding of love was created by romantic poetry, especially English, which created the cult of the ideal and sublime love.
History of Love Definition
Friedrich Engels wrote that “romantic love” was not unknown to the Greeks nor the Romans; they had “eros”, or sexual desire, more or less spiritualized. It was not necessary to seek mutuality for satisfying it. In fact, mutuality was not important for ancient people, but the fact of possessing was. “Romantic love” is the acquisition of the Renaissance (the early XIV – the end of XVI centuries). However, it should be noted that the “romantic love” has the precursor – “courtly love”. In the days of old, it was called “fin amor” – exquisite love (Johnson 53). According to the laws of courtly love, each knight agreed to obey his lady in all that relates to love, affection, manners, and taste. In this area, she was his mistress and his queen. “Romantic love” has been arising, developing; its rise or fall depended on the number of leisured capacity of certain sections of society & media (oral folklore, books, theater performances, media), which are intended to fill the leisured life of the intellectual and emotional content.
In the origins of ritual forms of amorous behavior (XI century), seniors were patronized poets, and they were customers of tales of chivalry. For example, commissioned by Count Philip of Flanders Chretien de Troyes wrote the novel “Perceval”; commissioned by Mary of Champagne, he wrote “Lancelot, or the Knight of the Carts”. Subsequently, when the reader has been accustomed to such products, it has become a lucrative business, especially these days. Philosophy and literature of the romantics have created a special romantic notion of love, known as “romantic love”. Romantic love, in their understanding, is something ideal, sublime, and eternal. Romantic literature and poetry created a veritable cult of love as the highest and almost the mysterious value rising above all earthly conventions. However, romantic love as a spiritual and mysterious affinity knows no boundaries. The real attitude of people is not a prerequisite criterion of usefulness and the moral sense for it. Immediately after the French Revolution, an idea was formed that marriage should be the result of romantic love. Now, especially in the English-speaking countries, this idea is taken for granted, and many of people are not even aware that once it was revolutionary (Johnson 93).
Up to the middle of the twentieth century, romantic love was the province of the upper class only. Later, it won over the masses, while constantly undergoing transformation and increasingly moving away from their initial forms. Nobel Prize laureate Bertrand Russell considered that in the United States, the romantic view of marriage was accepted in earnest as opposed to other countries, and as a result, there are the laws and customs based on the sentimental dreams of old maids, a huge number of divorces, and happy marriages are extremely rare. In the continuation of this idea, Erich Fromm believed that romantic love was unknown to the Indians of North America and now, in the third generation, full-blooded but assimilated Indian who grew up among whites, went to their school and then to college or university, falls in love in the same way as the conquerors of his ancestors. This Indian easily masters new physical passions unknown to his grandparents (Russell 86).
Love at First Sight
In the opinion of Anthony Giddens, romantic love can also appear “at first sight”, but it should clearly distinguish this response of romantic love from the inner compulsion of sexual-erotic attraction in passionate love (Giddens 144). The first sight is a communicative gesture, intuitive grasp of the qualities of the other. Accurate illustration of this Giddens thesis regarding romantic love can be the text of a popular song «Strangers in the night» by Frank Sinatra. In his song, night passers get accustomed to each other, catching sights in the hope to have time to “pick up” someone until the outcome of the night; but that is just a casual sight, counter smile, only one dance, and – the love for a lifetime. Giddens thinks that romantic love is feminized. It was feminized not so much in the sense that it became available to women or recognized between women, but that the ideal of romantic love is connected with the forms of life that are traditionally associated with women’s social roles and with women’s destination (Giddens 145).
Love from point of view of scientists
From the point of view of scientists, romantic love is considered generally as a negative phenomenon, but opinion in its occasion may vary in the arts and media. For example, in the song “You can’t hurry love” by The Supremes love is seen as something vital and necessary, without which the girl in the song will not be able to continue her life, and mother comforts her saying that she cannot hasten the love. This song shows that love can be not only a feeling in it classic sense, but also it can take the form of thoughts about bright future, that once the girl can find her love. The most surprising thing is that these thoughts can satisfy her consciousness even if she does not find the love. That is, this song shows us that for some people love lies in the search of the love. But then Anastasia Touefix in her article “The Right Chemistry” considers that love is nothing more but dopamine, norepinephrine and phenylethylamine. These chemicals our brain produces in euphoria that occurs as a result of falling in love. From the viewpoint of Touefix, love is a consequence of chemical reactions, which like any other chemical reaction will eventually come to an end. The poem “Tonight I can write the saddest lines” by Pablo Neruda shows completely different point of view. If “You can’t hurry love” shows us such form of love as “love in the future”, so “Tonight I can write the saddest lines” shows such form of love as “love in the past”. The main character of the poem loves his memories about the girl even more then that girl actually. This shows such kind of love that is possible when a person has overly romanticizing memories, and falls in love with them, but not in the object of his past or present relationship.
Robert Alex Johnson, Psy.D., is confident that the poets and writers have converted romantic love into a religion, beginning from the middle of the twentieth century (Johnson 158). He describes romantic love as a psychological set, a combination of beliefs, ideals, attitudes, and expectations. The purpose of this love is not to love someone but to be in love. Johnson thinks that earthly love sees the personality in the other person and builds an individual relationship with him. But romantic love sees the person as a performer in the role of a well-known drama. Earthly love allows a man to see a woman in a full and independent identity, and he provides the necessary support in it. Romantic love keeps saying what a woman should be in terms of romanticism. While the man is in the power of romantic love, he supports the woman only as long as she seeks to change to reflect his projected ideal. In accordance to Robert Alex Johnson, romantic love never brings happiness in relationships with people for what they are (Johnson 204).
Other researchers also compare love with religiosity. According to sociologist Ulrich Beck, many people talk today about love and family as in the past centuries God was spoken of. He thinks that the desire for deliverance and tenderness, an attempt to find the mystery of desire in the empty text of hits – all these is breathing of everyday religiosity. Transformed into a religion, romantic love has fascinated not only poets, writers and wide narrow-minded communities, but also Christian preachers. They are sure that romantic love is as old as the world, because it appeared in the Garden of Eden, when the first man and the first woman looked at each other. Preachers are saying that people must understand that the God gifted people the ability of strong and passionate emotions that the lovers are experiencing. Preachers find obvious the fact that God wanted people’s sensory abilities to reach full development and unity in marriage (Johnson 225).
According to the researchers, nowadays 73% of women claim that due to the constant open discussion of sex in media, love has lost its romance, and women lose their mysteriousness (“forbidden fruit tastes sweeter”). As a result, their peers of the opposite gender do not show proper attention and respect towards women. They cannot or do not want to take care the way it was done 20-30 years ago. As a result, relations between the sexes have lost all the romance and poetry. In their turn, 78% of men complained that as a result of the feminist movement, the behavior of modern women makes the desire to render them any favors disappear, but there is an urgent need to establish itself in its own masculinity (Johnson 240).
R. A. Johnson thinks that in the countries with an individualistic culture (like USA), the cult of “romantic love” has been created. He considered that when lovers are truly attached to each other, they want to expand to the extent possible the range of joint activities. Even the most mundane and difficult work lovers convert into a joyful and attractive episode of life. Romantic love, on the contrary, lasts exactly as long as each of the lovers can resist “on high” until the money runs out and entertainment stops giving pleasure (Johnson 248).
Professor of anthropology at Rutgers University Helen Fisher found out that romantic love is characterized by the release of dopamine and lasts an average 18 – 30 months. She believes that a person has no innate gift to distinguish the love of other pseudo-love feelings and disorders. A person may learn it only throughout the years from his/her own experience.
Giddens, Anthony. The Consequences of Modernity. Oxford : Wiley, 2013. Print.
Johnson, Robert Alex. The Psychology of Romantic Love. London : Arkana, 2011. Print.
Russell, Bertrand. Marriage and Morals. London : New York : Routledge, 2009. Print.