Almost six and a half months ago, I asked out a girl who was never supposed to say yes. However, she did, and I got stuck in a wonderful relationship that forced me to put a rush order on the parts of my personal philosophy that I hadn’t completely formulated yet and pertained to relationships. Since love is popular topic at this time of year, I’ve decided to interrupt the flow of essays I started with Orcs and Anarchy. My apologies to anyone who really wanted to know how I was going to make fun of people who used the fantasy world to fix the real world; you’ll just have to wait a little longer.
The Greeks, being more OCD with their language than the English, had several words for love: agape, eros, philia, and storge. Romantic love, in its modern sense, hangs somewhere between agape and eros because nothing is worth writing about if it isn’t confusing to begin with. Agape love is the unconditional love that can’t be wrecked no matter how stupid the recipient is acting. Eros (the root of ‘erotic,’ obviously) isn’t just hot-and-heavy lovin’; Socrates through Plato describes it as a desire for a person that can become a love of the eternal beauty within that person. I leaned heavily on Plato for my definition.
However, being a Christian, I also combed the Bible for help, but the Bible absolutely sucks in defining romantic love. There is the 'Song of Solomon', which is pretty much one long, erotic, love poem between a couple in love, and clear statements that there is no ‘the one’ since widows are able to remarry and there are religiously acceptable reasons for divorce and remarrying. I wasn’t able to find any, “Romantic love is…” statements, only, “We are in love, so we feel…” statements. That was annoying.
Also, I further delved into Plato’s and Socrates’ ‘eternal beauty,’ finding it to mean the absolutes the recipient of love represents for the lover (not that kind of lover). An example would be my girlfriend representing altruism and grace for those of you that don’t like ambiguous philosophy terminology. The one being loved is a proxy for larger ideas that are loved. For those who believe that absolutes are an extension of God (touched on very briefly in Save $ By Not Killing People), it can be said that romantic love recognizes the godliness in another individual.
Lastly, I concluded that love had to be a choice. If there is no ‘the one,’ there are, at least, ‘the few’ (this is also talked about in Atlas Shrugged for Dummies; it should be noted that I considered romantic love in Atlas Shrugged as different from the romantic love discussed in this essay. An explanation for that is that the actions in Atlas Shrugged are done for a form of eros that doesn’t find ‘eternal beauty’ to correlate to godliness). One could, of course, hop from one partner to another at a whim based on certain features found attractive, but there is no love in that, only appreciation for the attractive features. Therefore, ‘true love’ needs some form of permanence. Marriage is some statement of that, if used Biblically. It just means tax breaks otherwise.
All that being said, here is what I’ve cobbled together as what I think is the best definition of romantic love available on the Internet:
Romantic love: strong affection felt for someone found attractive at an intellectual and physical level who represents eternal beauty or godliness, whose needs and wants make one happy to fulfill, and beyond the initial attraction it becomes a choice to honor relational promises; romantic love can be lost if left unnurtured, i.e. given up on
For any (possibly most) of the readers of this, I'm not going to force-feed a Biblical interpretation of romantic love. Feel free to reinterpret at will as long as you acknowledge that, like in Atlas Shrugged, a different interpretation can lead to extremely different results. But I'm only a 19-year-old whose longest relationship so far is six months and a fortnight; what do I know?