Interpreting Your Responses
The odd-numbered items -- trust, caring, honesty, etc. -- have been found to be the most central features to research subjects' definitions of love. The
even-numbered items -- scary, dependency, uncertainty, and so on -- have been found to be peripheral, that is, not so important,
according to research conducted by Canadian psychologist Beverley Fehr.
Love's History -- Sacred, Sensual, Dramatic
Ancient Greek mythology has many gods and goddesses cavorting with each other, not only for sex but also love. The supreme god Zeus
might seduce mortal women but he also claimed he protected them from the wrath of his (understandably) jealous wife Hera, sometimes by
transforming the hapless maidens into trees or inanimate objects. In so doing, Zeus displayed some minimal compassion as well as obvious passion for his paramours.
Love Becomes Sensual
The early Romans equated passionate love with madness, advising that romance be avoided if one hoped to lead a responsible, successful life. An exception to this admonition was the poet Ovid (43 B.C. - 17 C.E.), whose lengthy poem Ars Amatoria ("The Art of Love") offered a "seducer's manual" of techniques designed to arouse another's passion. One notorious example was Ovid's advice to take one's mistress to see the gladiators disembowel each other, and when she was most aroused and excited by the grisly sights, seize the opportunity to pounce (a tactic in keeping with a current theory of love as we shall see). Ovid's celebration of erotic passion proved to be politically incorrect and was cited as a major reason for the prudish Caesar Augustus's decision to banish the poet, who died in exile.
Love Becomes Sacred.
Judeo-Christian monotheism preached a God whose central relationship with humankind was based not on blind obedience and worship but love.
Believers were instructed to show their faith by learning to love one other, altruistically and unconditionally. In the early Middle Ages,
the Crusades took many influential and powerful Western European nobles and knights to the Holy Land. In their battle to drive out the
Moslem "infidel," many of these Christians found themselves entranced by Eastern ideals of intimate love as "ennobling," as well as by the
provocative segregation of women from men within harem walls. Forbidden fruit is always the most attractive.
Love Becomes Selective.
By the 18th century, in England, what had once been an aristocratic pastime had trickled down to commoners as a fantasy about mate selection: romantic love was not necessary for marriage but how pleasant it would be! In the New World, young Americans were even free to choose their mates on the basis of feelings rather than lands or family money. Thus began a great experiment in society, encouraging people to make permanent commitments on the basis of what were usually transitory emotional attachments.
Love Becomes Drama.
The formula still works today. Whether it's the story of Lancelot and Queen Guinevere, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, or Meg Ryan and
Russell Crowe, we sympathize with lovers who are separated by unfeeling laws or politics. Unlike the original troubadours' songs,
however, modern romances are more popularly successful with the "happy ending" of marriage. It may be impractical to base a real-life
marriage on arousal, longing and pain. But those elements make for a better story than pragmatism, friendship and economic considerations.