Romantic love is a relative term, that distinguishes moments and situations within interpersonal relationships
Within a relationship
There is often, initially, more emphasis on the emotions (especially those of love, intimacy, compassion, appreciation , and general “liking”) rather than physical pleasure. But, romantic love, in the abstract sense of the term, is traditionally referred to as involving a mix of emotional and sexual desire for another as a person. However, Lisa Diamond, blackplanet a University of Utah psychology professor, proposes that sexual desire and romantic love are functionally independent and also, as an additional claim to the topic, that romantic love is not intrinsically oriented to same-gender or other-gender partners; and that the links between love and desire are bidirectional as opposed to unilateral. Furthermore, Diamond does not state that one’s sex has priority over another sex in romantic love, because as already mentioned Diamond’s theory seems to purport the idea that it is possible for someone who is heterosexual to fall in love with someone of the same gender, and for someone who is homosexual to fall in love with someone of a different gender.
General definition of romantic love
If one thinks of romantic love not as simply erotic freedom and expression, but as a breaking of that expression from a prescribed custom, romantic love is modern. There may have been a tension in primitive societies between marriage and the erotic, but this was mostly expressed in taboos regarding the menstrual cycle and birth.
Before the 18th century, as now, there were many marriages that were not arranged, and arose out of more or less spontaneous relationships. But also after the 18th century, illicit relationships took on a more independent role. In bourgeois marriage, illicitness may have become more formidable and likely to cause tension. [How to reference and link to summary or text] In Ladies of the Leisure Class, Bonnie G. Smith depicts courtship and marriage rituals that may be viewed as oppressive to both men and women. She writes “When the young women of the Nord married, they did so without illusions of love and romance. They acted within a framework of concern for the reproduction of bloodlines according to financial, professional, and sometimes political interests.” Subsequent sexual revolution has lessened the conflicts arising out of liberalism, but not eliminated them.
Anthropologists such as Claude Levi-Strauss show that there were complex forms of courtship in ancient as well as contemporary primitive societies. But there may not be evidence that members of such societies formed love relationships distinct from their established customs in a way that would parallel modern romance.
Romantic love is then a relative term within any sexual relationship, but not relative when considered in contrast with custom. Within an existing relationship romantic love can be defined as a temporary freeing or optimizing of intimacy, either in a particularly luxurious manner (or the opposite as in the “natural”), or perhaps in greater spirituality, irony, or peril to the relationship. It may seem like a contradiction that romance is opposed to spirituality and yet would be strengthened by it, but the fleeting quality of romance might stand out in greater clarity as a couple explore a higher meaning. [How to reference and link to summary or text]
The cultural traditions of marriage and betrothal are the most basic customs in conflict with romance [How to reference and link to summary or text] , however it is possible that romance and love can exist between the partners within those customs. Shakespeare and Kierkegaard describe similar viewpoints, to the effect that marriage and romance are not harmoniously in tune with each other. In Measure for Measure , for example, “. there has not been, nor is there at this point, any display of affection between Isabella and the Duke, if by affection we mean something concerned with sexual attraction. The two at the end of the play love each other as they love virtue.” Isabella, like all women, needs love, and she may reject marriage with the Duke because he seeks to beget an heir with her for her virtues, and she is not happy with the limited kind of love that implies. Shakespeare is arguing that marriage because of its purity can not simply incorporate romance. The extramarital nature of romance is also clarified by John Updike in his let. It is also found in the film Braveheart , or rather in the life of Isabella of France .