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zachmartinez

Romantic love is a delusion

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I had a friend tell me that he was "in love" with some girl. I used to believe falling in love actually happened and I hoped it would happen to me. However as I've grown older I now believe that this is a phenomenon where people WANT to fall in love because they think it's so great, and so they latch onto whatever smidgen of attraction they experience and convince themselves that that's what's happening. After all, when people say they're in love, how do they know that?

Let's say you set up a group of bird hunters and tell them to go into a forest in search of the elusive "smackledorf" which can grant wishes. They of course probe you to know exactly what they're looking for, and you simply say to them, "it's unexplainable but you'll know it when you see it." I think we all know what's going to happen: They're all going in there and bringing back completely different birds claiming that their's is the real one.

I also think that one's own self-made description of "love" can be dangerous. My friend claimed he would take a bullet for the one he "loves" no matter how much they abuse him. This is a recipe for disaster as he could "fall in love" with an abusive partner and he's screwed. In this instance I would argue that if romantic love really is happening, he should see a therapist immediately rather than feed his mental illness as if it's something positive.

So my question is this: What evidence can you provide to give credence of the existence of this phenomenon of becoming obsessed with a person (besides someone deluding themselves into thinking it's happening) and if you believe it happens, do you think it should be classified as a mental disorder?

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I am aromantic, and have never experienced romantic attraction myself. I understand and can relate to a lot of what you are saying; it is very hard (if not impossible) to prove that romantic love exists if you haven't experienced it yourself, because it is impossible to get inside the head of somebody else and see what they are experiencing. It's also possible that if romantic love exists, every experiences it differently and there is no one thing that can absolutely be called romantic love.

However, despite the fact that I haven't experienced it for myself and can't prove its existence, I do like to believe it exists for other people. Many of my friends and peers have claimed to "fall in love", and they seem rather genuine. As long as it doesn't become overly possessive or abusive or dangerous, I don't think it could really be called a mental disorder.

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I believe it exists, but only for a select few and you have to be at the right place during the right time. I myself, has fallen inlove only twice in my life in 2 different ways. One with my dog (not romantic love!) And 2..with my best friend (definitely sensually romantic).

Dog: Unconditional love, heartbroken by his death..18 years together...still grieving.

Best Friend: 18 years together..Would sexually perform to make her happy, would go where ever she goes, do what ever she wanted (with exception of kids) and be the best girlfriend I could be. I know I'm inlove because this isn't a crush where I just get butterflies and want to see her. This is me considering making huge sacrifices in order to make her happy, in the hopes we would be together if she just felt the same. This is me being utterly miserable seeing her with other people, knowing she's never gonna see me the same way I see her, and the fact it's not something she can control. She's straight and that's the end of it. I know it's love because I've felt this way since we were little kids. It just took me years to figure it out. I compare her to every possible romantic candidate and can't seem to settle for less, so I settle for single.

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I am aromantic, and have never experienced romantic attraction myself. I understand and can relate to a lot of what you are saying; it is very hard (if not impossible) to prove that romantic love exists if you haven't experienced it yourself, because it is impossible to get inside the head of somebody else and see what they are experiencing. It's also possible that if romantic love exists, every experiences it differently and there is no one thing that can absolutely be called romantic love.

However, despite the fact that I haven't experienced it for myself and can't prove its existence, I do like to believe it exists for other people. Many of my friends and peers have claimed to "fall in love", and they seem rather genuine. As long as it doesn't become overly possessive or abusive or dangerous, I don't think it could really be called a mental disorder.

But that's exactly the point I was trying to make with the bird analogy. If the smackledorf could be any bird depending on who you ask, it's pointless to say that the thing exists at all. After all the term "smackledorf" doesn't describe anything then. I agree with your sentiment about the mental illness thing. Unless I'm mistaken, psychologists determine what's a disorder based on whether or not it causes distress.

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I believe it exists, but only for a select few and you have to be at the right place during the right time. I myself, has fallen inlove only twice in my life in 2 different ways. One with my dog (not romantic love!) And 2..with my best friend (definitely sensually romantic).

Dog: Unconditional love, heartbroken by his death..18 years together...still grieving.

Best Friend: 18 years together..Would sexually perform to make her happy, would go where ever she goes, do what ever she wanted (with exception of kids) and be the best girlfriend I could be. I know I'm inlove because this isn't a crush where I just get butterflies and want to see her. This is me considering making huge sacrifices in order to make her happy, in the hopes we would be together if she just felt the same. This is me being utterly miserable seeing her with other people, knowing she's never gonna see me the same way I see her, and the fact it's not something she can control. She's straight and that's the end of it. I know it's love because I've felt this way since we were little kids. It just took me years to figure it out. I compare her to every possible romantic candidate and can't seem to settle for less, so I settle for single.

" I compare her to every possible romantic candidate and can't seem to settle for less, so I settle for single. "

It would be impossible for you to feel exactly the same way about someone else as you do about your friend because frankly, you would have to have had the exact same experiences with the second person. I'm confused as to why you can't get another "romantic candidate" though. Why not?

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Love, or at least infatuation, is real, I've experienced it, but I've always recognized it as an undesired state of mind and considered it as a kind of illness. Thankfully it doesn't seem to happen anymore.

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I am aromantic, and have never experienced romantic attraction myself. I understand and can relate to a lot of what you are saying; it is very hard (if not impossible) to prove that romantic love exists if you haven't experienced it yourself, because it is impossible to get inside the head of somebody else and see what they are experiencing. It's also possible that if romantic love exists, every experiences it differently and there is no one thing that can absolutely be called romantic love.

However, despite the fact that I haven't experienced it for myself and can't prove its existence, I do like to believe it exists for other people. Many of my friends and peers have claimed to "fall in love", and they seem rather genuine. As long as it doesn't become overly possessive or abusive or dangerous, I don't think it could really be called a mental disorder.

But that's exactly the point I was trying to make with the bird analogy. If the smackledorf could be any bird depending on who you ask, it's pointless to say that the thing exists at all. After all the term "smackledorf" doesn't describe anything then. I agree with your sentiment about the mental illness thing. Unless I'm mistaken, psychologists determine what's a disorder based on whether or not it causes distress.

Well a lot of things can be experienced differently my different people, but that doesn't make it any less "real". For example, think about the bond between friends. I can tell not everyone see experiences friendship the same way I do, and I would even say most of my individual friendships are different from each other because I experience them with different people. Friendship is very personal and the feelings experienced differ from person to person. But that does not mean the concept of friendship does not exist. Although I can't be sure, I think love might be the same way, and that's why it's so hard to concretely say what love is.

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I am aromantic, and have never experienced romantic attraction myself. I understand and can relate to a lot of what you are saying; it is very hard (if not impossible) to prove that romantic love exists if you haven't experienced it yourself, because it is impossible to get inside the head of somebody else and see what they are experiencing. It's also possible that if romantic love exists, every experiences it differently and there is no one thing that can absolutely be called romantic love.

However, despite the fact that I haven't experienced it for myself and can't prove its existence, I do like to believe it exists for other people. Many of my friends and peers have claimed to "fall in love", and they seem rather genuine. As long as it doesn't become overly possessive or abusive or dangerous, I don't think it could really be called a mental disorder.

But that's exactly the point I was trying to make with the bird analogy. If the smackledorf could be any bird depending on who you ask, it's pointless to say that the thing exists at all. After all the term "smackledorf" doesn't describe anything then. I agree with your sentiment about the mental illness thing. Unless I'm mistaken, psychologists determine what's a disorder based on whether or not it causes distress.

Well a lot of things can be experienced differently my different people, but that doesn't make it any less "real". For example, think about the bond between friends. I can tell not everyone see experiences friendship the same way I do, and I would even say most of my individual friendships are different from each other because I experience them with different people. Friendship is very personal and the feelings experienced differ from person to person. But that does not mean the concept of friendship does not exist. Although I can't be sure, I think love might be the same way, and that's why it's so hard to concretely say what love is.

I agree that every relationship is a snowflake, but relationships are defined in a clear way: The interactions between two humans. Going back to the bird analogy, all the animals that the hunters found were birds because they matched the biological definition, however the smackledorf was given no description at all. The only thing known about it is that it's a bird, just like the only thing consistent about romance is that it's a relationship.

If any relationship could be romantic depending on who you ask, there's literally no difference between "romantic relationship" and "relationship."

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I'd just like to say that while the exchange and debate of ideas is great and all, please remember to be careful with sensitive subject matter, as discussions can easily go from debate to argument.

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Well, names aren't inherent to anything to begin with. If a person has a desire to label an unspecified culmination of emotions and call it "love" they may do so and have it be as real as any abstract thing that we've invented.

If I may indulge personal definition in spite of your protestation; based on what I've observed, love is, in it's most rudimentary display, an acknowledgement that one's life would be irreversibly lesser if the subject to be acknowledged did not exist within that one's life. Obviously, one's love for cake means something very different to one's love for an old friend, but their relevance would still be undeniable.

I do not know if I believe in romantic love, and I don't like how love and sex get mashed together unneccessarily. But we are not only conditioned to be lonely, we are naturally selected to be. The bio-chemical signatures of "loneliness" are a useful tool for reproduction. I agree that it's incorrect to call this "love", but it's served a purpose.

Nature is uncaring, and our consciousness is only a side-effect of our brain. As we were discussing, "romantic love" is simply one of many meanings we donate in a material universe. I concede that sometimes it's dangerous or gets out of control, but let them have their cake, you can have your own and like it, love it, or leave it be. :cake:?

The somewhat convoluted point I'm trying to make is that I agree, BUT how beneficial is that? Certainly, we're all just having a conversation, but if a person cannot live a happy life without at least believing in love, how could any of us take that away from them? If you have no taste for rhetoric, I'm sorry I've wasted your time. However, I think it similar to running around yelling "there is no God". Maybe that's true, but constantly explaining to people why they're leading a pointless life is needlessly cruel. It doesn't accomplish a whole lot, and is disturbing. Not that anyone is required to believe anyone else, but I only digress.

That being said, I'm glad of this conversation; I'm finding it very stimulating, as you can tell. :lol: I'd better rap this up. Thank Gosh for AVEN!

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OP, you seem to be assuming that romantic love doesn't exist from the "evidence" of the fact that you've never experienced romantic love. That's shaky evidence indeed.

I experienced romantic love, so I'll stack my experience against your non-experience of it. And believe me, it wasn't something I was trying to have happen, as I was married at the time and the person I fell in love with was not my husband.

Your demand that people produce evidence of the existence of an emotion which can only be determined by the person feeling it is not reasonable.

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I'm still questioning what 'romantic love' is precisely, but I think it exists, but peoples' perceptions of what it constitutes can be very different from one another. Some of these perceptions are warped and destructive, such as those who perceive being jealous and possessive towards someone is romantic love.

There are many ways to break down what romantic love is, and there are different models I know of that were developed in psychology to explore this subject. With the six Love Styles (Eros, Agape, Ludus, Storge, Pragma, and Mania), Eros, and Mania would be the most easily recognized as forms of romantic love. Mania is just plain unhealthy, and while Eros is associated with satisfying romantic-sexual relationships, it is the least stable of the six Love Styles, because sexual passion in a relationship will die down after a period of time.

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I agree that every relationship is a snowflake, but relationships are defined in a clear way: The interactions between two humans...The only thing known about it is that it's a bird, just like the only thing consistent about romance is that it's a relationship.

The definition of relationship is actually "the way in which two or more concepts, objects, people, or other living things are connected." It is not purely a human experience though it is often talked about as it it were.

Romance is not necessarily a relationship; it seems to be more of a state of emotion and a mindset. One does not need to have a romantic relationship with another to have romance.

If I may indulge personal definition in spite of your protestation; based on what I've observed, love is, in it's most rudimentary display, an acknowledgement that one's life would be irreversibly lesser if the subject to be acknowledged did not exist within that one's life.

Based upon my own observations, love is anything anyone wishes it to be. My own definition of love is actually quite different from what you've observed love to be (it can even be considered contrary to what you've observed love to be). From what I've observed, love is entirely a choice which has nothing to do with feelings; it is a choice to fully accept without reservations whoever or whatever it is one chooses to love; and making this choice means that one is able to let go and be perfectly content with not having whoever it is they love in their life.

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Well, TBH, one thing I notice about all the people I know who are in positive relationships have in common is that none of them have a god/goddess complex. OTOH all the unhappy divorcees I know are insatiable narcissists. There's nothing that can make a person unloveable more than narcissism, arrogance, or histrionics.

Also, some people can fall in love with just about anyone, some can't. Those who can fall in love with just about anyone can't understand pickiness... they just don't get that there are some characteristics about other people that some of us find off-putting.

Yet we take a counterintuitive approach to finding love, because to do it intuitively would feel "mechanical", "dehumanizing"...

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I can sadly attest that the phenomenon does exist... but IME. calling it "love" is the delusion.

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I've never experienced sexual attraction. But apparently most people have, so I don't question that it exists. Same for romantic love. Just because I haven't experienced it yet, and possibly never will, I won't question its validity when people around me fall in love.

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Well, names aren't inherent to anything to begin with. If a person has a desire to label an unspecified culmination of emotions and call it "love" they may do so and have it be as real as any abstract thing that we've invented.

If I may indulge personal definition in spite of your protestation; based on what I've observed, love is, in it's most rudimentary display, an acknowledgement that one's life would be irreversibly lesser if the subject to be acknowledged did not exist within that one's life. Obviously, one's love for cake means something very different to one's love for an old friend, but their relevance would still be undeniable.

I do not know if I believe in romantic love, and I don't like how love and sex get mashed together unneccessarily. But we are not only conditioned to be lonely, we are naturally selected to be. The bio-chemical signatures of "loneliness" are a useful tool for reproduction. I agree that it's incorrect to call this "love", but it's served a purpose.

Nature is uncaring, and our consciousness is only a side-effect of our brain. As we were discussing, "romantic love" is simply one of many meanings we donate in a material universe. I concede that sometimes it's dangerous or gets out of control, but let them have their cake, you can have your own and like it, love it, or leave it be. :cake:?

The somewhat convoluted point I'm trying to make is that I agree, BUT how beneficial is that? Certainly, we're all just having a conversation, but if a person cannot live a happy life without at least believing in love, how could any of us take that away from them? If you have no taste for rhetoric, I'm sorry I've wasted your time. However, I think it similar to running around yelling "there is no God". Maybe that's true, but constantly explaining to people why they're leading a pointless life is needlessly cruel. It doesn't accomplish a whole lot, and is disturbing. Not that anyone is required to believe anyone else, but I only digress.

That being said, I'm glad of this conversation; I'm finding it very stimulating, as you can tell. :lol: I'd better rap this up. Thank Gosh for AVEN!

It's funny you bring up the god thing. I actually self-identify as an egoist, (at least I think that's accurate, I'm not too sharp with philosophy.) so I see reason as a tool to get what I want. I'm not bound to be reasonable. The reason I don't believe things because they make me feel good is because only accurate information has practical application.

So basically yeah, those people can believe it on that basis if they want, but in my case it wouldn't help me at all.

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I agree that every relationship is a snowflake, but relationships are defined in a clear way: The interactions between two humans...The only thing known about it is that it's a bird, just like the only thing consistent about romance is that it's a relationship.

The definition of relationship is actually "the way in which two or more concepts, objects, people, or other living things are connected." It is not purely a human experience though it is often talked about as it it were.

Romance is not necessarily a relationship; it seems to be more of a state of emotion and a mindset. One does not need to have a romantic relationship with another to have romance.

If I may indulge personal definition in spite of your protestation; based on what I've observed, love is, in it's most rudimentary display, an acknowledgement that one's life would be irreversibly lesser if the subject to be acknowledged did not exist within that one's life.

Based upon my own observations, love is anything anyone wishes it to be. My own definition of love is actually quite different from what you've observed love to be (it can even be considered contrary to what you've observed love to be). From what I've observed, love is entirely a choice which has nothing to do with feelings; it is a choice to fully accept without reservations whoever or whatever it is one chooses to love; and making this choice means that one is able to let go and be perfectly content with not having whoever it is they love in their life.

"One does not need to have a romantic relationship with another to have romance."

That's a good point. Unfortunately it waters the possible definitions of romance down even further. But yes I think that it's a misunderstanding to think of human relationships as a "bond" between two people but rather as a measure of how one affects the other.

Scenario 1: Some guy marries a girl who "loves" him.

Scenario 2: The same guy marries the same girl but she pretends to love him and is an insanely good actor to the point where the two relationships are indistinguishable from the outside.

In both scenarios, the guy is affected in exactly the same way.

"Based upon my own observations, love is anything anyone wishes it to be"

And that's where I have my problem. Words are used to convey an idea. If the word could mean anything, and I mean anything, then it's not useful in conveying a message.

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I'm still questioning what 'romantic love' is precisely, but I think it exists, but peoples' perceptions of what it constitutes can be very different from one another. Some of these perceptions are warped and destructive, such as those who perceive being jealous and possessive towards someone is romantic love.

There are many ways to break down what romantic love is, and there are different models I know of that were developed in psychology to explore this subject. With the six Love Styles (Eros, Agape, Ludus, Storge, Pragma, and Mania), Eros, and Mania would be the most easily recognized as forms of romantic love. Mania is just plain unhealthy, and while Eros is associated with satisfying romantic-sexual relationships, it is the least stable of the six Love Styles, because sexual passion in a relationship will die down after a period of time.

"sexual passion in a relationship will die down after a period of time"

That's actually an interesting point. If people were just deluding themselves into thinking they're "in love" we wouldn't expect for it to die out because they might want it to "last forever."

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Saying that romantic love does not exist, calling it a delusion or saying that it's a mental illness is no different from the people who say the same things about asexuality. Just because you don't experience it doesn't mean no one else does. It's simply illogical, and since you seem to like logic you might want to consider that.

(besides, if we are going to get technical, there are some very specific criteria that need to be fulfilled before something can be labeled a mental illness. But that's a completely different discussion. Just bear in mind that the term mental illness is seriously misused these days for this and that and anything)

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I dont know how the majority of all humans feel, but "love" sure dont seem to be anything exclusive to most, moving from one partner to the next, and some even have multiple partners at the same time. Like my friend, madly inlove with one, and after about 6 months she gets over it and finds another one. I doubt that its really "love" that those people feel, to me it seems more like an overdose of naive hope and the "I need a partner"-syndrome.

I dont question romantic attraction though, it sure exists and since most people do experience it it can not be classified as a mental disorder.

Random talk about me:

I know what love feels like since I can create that intense feeling towards my "perfect" imaginary characters, which all are a part of me. I doubt very much that I would ever be able to feel something like that towards a real human, and those times I have believed to be inlove, for a short and naive moment, it was based upon hope that it would lead to the same feeling as the one I could create inside me. It never did.

The love that I want dont exist in reality but it exist within, getting a real partner has therefore lost its purpose.

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So my question is this: What evidence can you provide to give credence of the existence of this phenomenon of becoming obsessed with a person (besides someone deluding themselves into thinking it's happening) and if you believe it happens, do you think it should be classified as a mental disorder?

The very same evidence that aromantics can bring forth to prove that they do not experience romantic love. Just because you don't experience something doesn't mean everybody else makes things up. People have a stupid tendency to project their own experiences onto others, believing it's the same for everyone and assuming deviance is caused by lying or sickness. Don't be one of those.

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I used to believe romantic love was a delusion until a year ago, give or take. Once I realized I was aromantic, I knew my point of view was limited in terms of my opinion about romance. Back before I identified as aro, I thought people were making up their crushes and relationships to fit in and match the image of normal the media gives us. I thought I was the only one mature enough to see through this illusion. I hear this is something common among

But then people around me started experiencing serious romantic love, and eventually I had to face the facts- there was some kind of emotion I didn't feel. When I was younger, I had no reason to believe that something I didn't have proof for existed. When I saw my close friends entering relationships, I questioned them about it, and from what they told me, there really was a difference between platonic and romantic love.

I was once at a lecture by a blind marathon runner, who told us his life story. His mother hid his blindness from him through his childhood, and he had no idea there was such a thing as sight, or color. It was only when he was 12 and started attending school when a friend asked him something, I think it was about colors, and he had no idea what the friends was talking about. The friend told him he was blind, and it was only then he realized there were things that existed, but he couldn't be privy to.

I sometimes think of romantic love as something similar. As a kid, I had no way of knowing it existed, because I didn't feel it. But then I was confronted with people who talked about it in a distinct way, that made it sound like it DID exist. And I had to grow up and realize it was there, but I would have to live without it.

I do think romance is overrated in media and culture, I don't believe in "love at first sight" or the idea of "soulmates". But I do believe in several kinds of love, and romantic love is one of them.

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I haven't read the whole topic yet but saying romantic love is delusional is like telling sexual people they are delusional. That people are only sexual because sex is in the media or they only believe they feel it when they don't. Just because you are aromantic doesn't mean romantic people are delusional. I agree that stalking or being clingy/obsessed is a problem but not feelings.

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I was convinced to be aromantic when I was 15. That year, I fell in love with someone, without wanting to by any means. I was not obsessed with her, your wording is quite respectless. She just gave me a funny feeling in my stomach and I wanted to be close to her. Everything she did or didn't do hurt more than if others did it. I wanted to leave a good impression and felt jealous. Funnily, I wanted to get her attention, something I was otherwise never interested in. The feeling that I had, I did not want it, I did not need it, but it happened.

It is not just unfair, but also pretentious and gullible of you to speak in this manner just because you yourself have not or will not experience this form of love. Had I myself not experienced having a squish on somebody, having a crush on somebody, falling "properly" in love with somebody, romantically loving somebody and platonically loving someone, I would never be able to differ between them. Why you feel the need to talk like this about something you cannot understand is beyond me. I honestly am feeling very stoic about (romantic) love, too. Because I think myself to be smarter than getting involved in that. But I am not. And I think myself to be stronger than that, but again, I am not. There is nothing to be smart or strong about when you are experiencing any kind of love. I made negative experiences, which made me further distance myself. I am not safe from feeling this way, though. And when I feel it again, it is not a delusion and certainly not a disorder.

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Sexual attraction/desire must be a delusion, because *I* don't experience it.

:rolleyes:

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OP, you seem to be assuming that romantic love doesn't exist from the "evidence" of the fact that you've never experienced romantic love. That's shaky evidence indeed.

I experienced romantic love, so I'll stack my experience against your non-experience of it. And believe me, it wasn't something I was trying to have happen, as I was married at the time and the person I fell in love with was not my husband.

Your demand that people produce evidence of the existence of an emotion which can only be determined by the person feeling it is not reasonable.

I agree with this. Remember that plenty of sexuals argue that asexuality doesn't exist previsely because they can't experience it or relate to it. Or, some white people claim racism no longer exists, and plenty of examples like that. Plus, I think it is disrespectful to tell people that their own experiences are not real or valid.

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I read a book two years ago called "Why we Love" which presented research on romantic love. Some of the brain scans were actually done at my university, interestingly, and one day in Neurobio when the professor was out sick and another professor subbed for him, she presented on romantic love based on the information in that book. I asked her after class and she had met the author during some of the research. Anyway, there's quite a bit of neurological and physiological evidence of romantic love, and not only in primates.

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I read a book two years ago called "Why we Love" which presented research on romantic love. Some of the brain scans were actually done at my university, interestingly, and one day in Neurobio when the professor was out sick and another professor subbed for him, she presented on romantic love based on the information in that book. I asked her after class and she had met the author during some of the research. Anyway, there's quite a bit of neurological and physiological evidence of romantic love, and not only in primates.

thank you I will look up that book

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I read a book two years ago called "Why we Love" which presented research on romantic love. Some of the brain scans were actually done at my university, interestingly, and one day in Neurobio when the professor was out sick and another professor subbed for him, she presented on romantic love based on the information in that book. I asked her after class and she had met the author during some of the research. Anyway, there's quite a bit of neurological and physiological evidence of romantic love, and not only in primates.

thank you I will look up that book

Just keep in mind that the chapters on her conclusions about psychological evolution are pretty much nonsense. The research and neurobio are pretty solid, but she's definitely not an evolutionary biologist.

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