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    NowhereMan's Avatar
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    Love

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    The romantic type. I'm curious about how everyone feels about it. How would you define it? Do you even believe in it? Do you think it's naturally embedded in our psyches or that it comes from society? Are humans naturally predisposed to be monogamous, or polygamous, or just straight up promiscuous? Or does it vary from person to person? Just some things to think about, but feel free to add any other opinions or questions.

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    RitaRose's Avatar
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    Everyone is going to be different and need different things from a relationship, so their views on The Perfect Romance is going to be all over the map.

    I will say that I have been in love and married before, but it took until almost 3 years ago, and the ripe old age of 45, to find someone that I have fallen completely and totally in love with. We're both very monogamous, but I don't know if it's genetic, biological or upbringing.

    I dont' think I really have a good definition for love. But I know it when I feel it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NowhereMan View Post
    The romantic type. I'm curious about how everyone feels about it. How would you define it? Do you even believe in it? Do you think it's naturally embedded in our psyches or that it comes from society? Are humans naturally predisposed to be monogamous, or polygamous, or just straight up promiscuous? Or does it vary from person to person? Just some things to think about, but feel free to add any other opinions or questions.
    Good thoughts/questions -- and clearly North Americans struggle with all of that and more --- given the 50-60% divorce rate. The trend for our younger generation is to live together versus marriage.

    I believe in love which is often misdiagnosed as lust. Real love takes commitment and work and effort and it's not always rosy and the sex isn't always plentiful or good. I do believe in long-term love and I also believe that love changes and morphs over time. I marvel at couples who celebrate 50, 60, 65 years of marriage together....I wonder to myself: How is that humanly possible? I don't believe that humans are meant to be monogomous but I do believe that commitment and effort keep two people together. I also believe that there are many partners for each of us --- there's no such thing as "soul mate". Different experiences and different people help us to grow and morph throughout our lives. What may have made us happy in our 20's is likely not to make us happy in our 50's and so on. Anyway, these are some of my musings on this topic. Look forward to thoughts of others. /Lu
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    In terms of "natural inclinations", I don't think it really matters if there was an original intent in natural design (I'm just talking from an evolutionary stand point, like nature was evolving to support certain things, not talking from a God perspective, but it applies too). These days, it's all relative. Monogamy is my natural preference. Everything else would feel wrong for me. Obviously that is not the case for everyone, and that's fine.

    I think love is not what we've been sold. Mainstream media of all types sells us an image of a certain kind of romantic relationship that just isn't realistic, and I think that's more to do with divorce and any kind of failed relationship, than lack of trying or truly evil people (just stereotyping what people might consider is the cause for divorce. I'm sure there are many more). People just don't have an idea of what it means to struggle in the pursuit of a stronger relationship and a long-lasting one because the examples they're seeing are all the same and not applicable to most people.

    I think it's also true that people can grow out of each other and for a long time, that meant the marriage had failed and so people did not divorce or split up because it was socially unacceptable. I don't think there's anything wrong with a marriage failing. It's really a legal status where divorce comes into play anyway. Religion complicates that binding, obviously, but I'm not getting into that.

    I'm generalizing too, but I think that describes how I feel anyway.
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    I don't think humans are naturally monogamous or naturally polygamous--or rather, I think it depends on the human in question. Some of us seem to be more strongly wired for monogamy than others. Also, monogamy does not always mean lifelong pair bonding. Some people are serially monogamous and might not want multiple partners at once but might also not want to be tied into a lifetime with the same person (or they might prefer that but also be okay with leaving a failed relationship). Like most aspects of human sexuality, I don't think monogamy/non-monogamy is all that clear cut.

    Love is real. The biochemistry has been decoded somewhat, so we know what the physiological aspects of it tend to be and even what chemistry tends to be associated with different types and stages of love. Saying it's chemical doesn't make it less real--human emotion is primarily about hormones and neurotransmitters and all that, but that doesn't make the experience of it less real or valid.

    Like others above, though, I think there's a difference between limerent, head-over-heels falling-in-love and the kind of loving commitment you see in long-term partnerships. While passionate love is often an element of long-term partnerships, those relationships tend to be multifaceted and see different types of love taking the fore at different times.
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    While I think polyamorous relationships are interesting intellectually, on a practical day to day basis, they just seem a bit to *complicated* to appeal to me. I am monogamous by nature but not for life. At 50 I already know that I have been through many changes and phases in my life and there will be many more. I really doubt that any one partner could be the be all and end all through all of that. Trying to force any one person to be that only leads to disillusionment and heartache all around.

    NW had a good point above about the illusions "sold" though princess stories and wedding planners of a fairy tale perfect romance til death do us part that just doesn't exist in real life.

    I agree with what was said earlier that divorce becoming more socially acceptable is a big factor. It's not that marriages are inherently worse, just that there is a way out. In earlier generations, one just plodded on in an unhappy marriage in some combination of quiet desperation and stoic silence.

    I don't think that using the term "failed marriage" for a divorce however is really the best term. I think that marriages and love have beginnings and endings. This is not failure or success, just the changing of the seasons. Perhaps the best way to do marriages would be to have a contract that then comes up for renewal say every five years or so, or can be walked away from at that point.

    That said, when I fall in love I fall hard. Head over heels and all that. And Owly is right. A biochemical experience is no less real. It's an awesome experience and one that I'm sure I will have many more times in my serially monogamous but ultimately independent life. But, in some rational corner of my mind (while all those hormones are raging around) I know that pair bonding for life is not for me. That doesn't mean I can't fling myself into it madly. It just means I don't sign any legal or financial documents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleobird View Post

    I agree with what was said earlier that divorce becoming more socially acceptable is a big factor. It's not that marriages are inherently worse, just that there is a way out. In earlier generations, one just plodded on in an unhappy marriage in some combination of quiet desperation and stoic silence.

    I don't think that using the term "failed marriage" for a divorce however is really the best term. I think that marriages and love have beginnings and endings. This is not failure or success, just the changing of the seasons. Perhaps the best way to do marriages would be to have a contract that then comes up for renewal say every five years or so, or can be walked away from at that point.
    My boyfriend read something on Facebook about marriage from a perspective of someone elderly, "In my day, you fixed something that was broken, you didn't throw it away." He said, "People must have been REALLY unhappy."

    You're right that a marriage that doesn't work out to be a life-long commitment is not a failure. Divorce is becoming more common and more acceptable, and with that, the stigma is lifting, but I think many people still view it as failure. I'm sure there is some shame that one must feel when going through a divorce that reflects those societal expectations. It's only recently that I've come to view divorce as just another legal situation. The relationship ending, changing, or moving on is a separate factor. But again, I'm not viewing this from any religious standpoint. Divorce vs. religion is another matter. Not sure how well I'm articulating this.
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    Lewis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NowhereMan View Post
    The romantic type. I'm curious about how everyone feels about it. How would you define it? Do you even believe in it? Do you think it's naturally embedded in our psyches or that it comes from society? Are humans naturally predisposed to be monogamous, or polygamous, or just straight up promiscuous? Or does it vary from person to person? Just some things to think about, but feel free to add any other opinions or questions.
    There's more than one type of love. English has a notable poverty of vocabulary in this area. At some time in the past we lost the word "charity" which took on a specialized meaning.

    Other civilisations, such as the Greek, had four different words for it. So for them there was Storge (Affection), Philia (Friendship), Eros (Sexual love), and Agape (Charity, an active outpouring of goodwill).

    C. S. Lewis wrote a famous book on the "four loves". There's a shortened version available as a radio talk on iTunes. It's interesting as an conceptual investigation, but also for the historical curiosity of hearing the voice of an unaffected but Public-School and Oxford educated man from that era:

    https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audioboo...ging/id2129161

    But I guess you were mainly asking about eros.

    I think it's rooted in our biological nature, but -- as with everything human -- it is shot through with our conceptions of it, and is a cultural and historical phenomenon. Anyone who doesn't see that, doesn't see the elephant in the room and had better go and study something else.

    The only recent philosopher (apart from Sartre) to look at sexual phenomena in any detail is Roger Scruton:

    Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Investigation: Roger Scruton: 9780826480385: Amazon.com: Books

  9. #9
    Paleobird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by namelesswonder View Post
    My boyfriend read something on Facebook about marriage from a perspective of someone elderly, "In my day, you fixed something that was broken, you didn't throw it away." He said, "People must have been REALLY unhappy."

    You're right that a marriage that doesn't work out to be a life-long commitment is not a failure. Divorce is becoming more common and more acceptable, and with that, the stigma is lifting, but I think many people still view it as failure. I'm sure there is some shame that one must feel when going through a divorce that reflects those societal expectations. It's only recently that I've come to view divorce as just another legal situation. The relationship ending, changing, or moving on is a separate factor. But again, I'm not viewing this from any religious standpoint. Divorce vs. religion is another matter. Not sure how well I'm articulating this.
    While I do think there is a point to the for better or worse vows, i.e. you don't just bail on somebody on a whim, long term, when you are in the wrong relationship, you know it. My aha! moment came when my ex-husband and I were having a disagreement over how something should be done and I asked him to explain to me exactly why we should do it his way. He said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, "Because I am the husband." Um, no.

    I didn't feel at all ashamed about getting divorced (no religious pressures either). I did feel a bit foolish for ever having gotten married in the first place. It was like the marriage was the stupid thing I did, the divorce was just the smart thing to do to correct my mistake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NowhereMan View Post
    The romantic type. I'm curious about how everyone feels about it. How would you define it? Do you even believe in it? Do you think it's naturally embedded in our psyches or that it comes from society? Are humans naturally predisposed to be monogamous, or polygamous, or just straight up promiscuous? Or does it vary from person to person? Just some things to think about, but feel free to add any other opinions or questions.

    This my be a strange response, but really romantic actions, or what media/hollywood portrays as male romance/romantic types completely skeeve me out. I find it disingenuous at best. I like honestly, not a trope of set actions designed to rope me into making me feel like I'm cared for.

    Love is a different story, that I believe in. I believe that we are all naturally capable of many different types love, but that society complicates things with rules about "who" and "how" and makes getting love right more difficult rather than less most often.

    Monogamy, polygamy, promiscuity... it depends on the individual to a degree, and I think that an individual can go through each of those phases in a lifetime quite easily. But enculturation plays a larger part on how people feel about these topics than any inborn characteristic.

    As far as the issue of divorce: I think that there are "Failed marriages". When two people marry but neither of them work as a couple, marriage is after all a joint effort, I would call that a failed marriage.
    Other than that when divorce happens, perhaps one party tries everything they can and the other won't meet in the middle at all, then that I call a "Successful Divorce".
    “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
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