It is a topic with which everyone is familiar; but we all have various views on its meaning, purpose and manifestation/expression.
I’ve shared various views on the matter but this time I chose to research it a little deeper, came across two helpful authors – Anthropologist Helen Fisher and Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins.
Fisher, in her book – Why We Love, suggests that romantic love is insane because of what it strictly requires/expects – devotion to 1 and only 1.
As a man I tend to agree with her. If I know 100 women and fall in love with only 1, how would I really know how ‘lovable’ the others are? How could I make an “informed choice”?
Ideally, humans should be given the opportunity to explore, investigate and keep options open.
When people are in love they speak of their beloved like they’re the best person in the world, only to be proven wrong later( in some cases). When in love we tend to “put all our eggs in one basket”, when I was a child I learned this was a dangerous practice.
Often times the only person you can compare the current beloved to is a horrible ex. Proving that quite often we make romantic errors and execute poor judgement when “in love”. We shouldn’t have put them on a pedestal.
Fisher further suggests that while we have become susceptible to monogamous love, ‘polyamory’ might be a more RATIONAL approach.
Polyamory is the belief that one can simultaneously lover several members of the opposite sex, just as one can love more than one wine, composer, book or sport.
Think about it, we all accept that we can love more than one child, parent, sibling, teacher, friend or pet. So don’t you find it a bit weird that we ‘expect’ romantic love to be exclusive?
Dawkins highlights that work done by Fisher and others, has shown that “being in love is accompanied by unique brain states, including the presence of neurally active chemicals (natural drugs) that are highly specific and characteristic of the state” of being in love.
Dawkins explains from a Darwinian point of view that maybe monogamous love spurred from a need to protect the species via co-parenting for the raising of a family.
Essentially, a very important task humans try to accomplish is choosing one good partner for all sorts of reasons. But once the choice is made and a child conceived, then it is more important to stick with that one choice at least until the child is weaned. Many times people stay together “for the kids” after the love has long gone. We’ve seen or heard of how terrible that can be.
Any route or explanation you choose, whether Fisher or Dawkins, it’s clear that being in love constitutes irrational behaviour – doesn’t make sense. It lacks logic.
Further, let’s think of crimes of passion or the severe depression which comes as the result of having one’s heart broken when in love.
Not every human brain is suited for being in love.
But what of the beauty and the indescribable experience of being in love, you might ask. Indeed it is a beautiful thing, but my experience has taught me that it is all a big risk.
Taking a risk like that is irrational, yet we still do it.
I know my fate is to join my ancestors in irrationality and say like the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson…
In Memoriam 27, 1850:
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.