The Radar Metaphor

One of the keys to communicating with a partner is letting them know what is on the horizon. Not just the things that you have done, but some of your vision of the future.

Rose and I have at times used a metaphor of a radar to describe communicating about what is going on in our lives, because a radar has sectors and rings. So, you can describe people and events by what part of and what importance they have. Sectors can be things like: friends, family, romance, work, hobbies, etc. categories that hold importance, but aren’t dependent on each other. The rings are the importance you place on a particular person or event: low, medium, high; consider, pursue, mandatory; maybe, most likely, definitely.

The point here is to add a language about how important something is to you. Because, text messaging and email don’t allow for proper tone miscommunication about intensity can happen. Even if your are talking face to face some people miss non-verbal cues. Communication works the best when the speaker acts to create as narrow a meaning as possible. Using the radar metaphor can help the participants have a way to ask questions about intensity without seeming like they are being judging.

What is Romantic Love?

I find it frustrating, sometimes, talking to people about love. The first roadblock I usually run into is getting people to define their personal meaning of love, the second mountain to climb is dealing with what romantic love means.

Whenever there is more than one person discussing this topic,  there is argument about what romanic love is. Does it require erotic/sexual feelings? Is romantic love a verb, or an adjective and a noun? Is Romantic just a name for the time when love is like a drug?

Romantic Love is a Triangle

As a concept many people that I have talked to see romantic love very similar to the triangular theory of love. This concept is fleshed out by Richard Sternberg. These people see romantic as being a sufficient level of intimacy on several scales.

  1. Intimacy – Which encompasses feelings of attachment, closeness, connection, and bonding.
  2. Passion – Which encompasses drives connected to both limerence and sexual attraction.
  3. Commitment – Which encompasses, in the short term, the decision to remain with another, and in the long term, plans made with that other.

So, if you have sufficient connection on these three points your love is romantic.

Romantic Love is a Chemical Cocktail

The next largest group I have spoken with feel that romantic love is only the chemical infatuation described by limerence. It is the fairytale that is the beginning of a relationship.

It is a potent cocktail of chemicals: Dopamine, Serotonin, Adrenaline, Cortisol, Oxytocin and Vasopressin that impair judgement, create feeling of euphoria, suppress appetite and foster feelings of connection and attachment with another.

This group usually argues that after this fades romantic love transitions to something else: friends, family, etc. For this group romance is lie, or a chemical trick.

Romantic Love is an Action

The connection that the last group that shares in common is people that see Romantic Love as love that is enacted. Most of them describe it as being actions with an intent for emotional connection. Perhaps this is the most traditionalist view, because it revolves around cause and effect. You take an action to influence emotional connection. This is what is presented in romance novels.

Does Romance Require Sexual Intimacy?

I have not seen any agreement on whether sexual interest is required for romantic love. A significant group of the people I have discussed this with see romance as a precursor to sexual feelings, a smaller group sees romance and sex as totally separate, and many people have very long lists of caveats on when and how the two interact.

Personally, I am still unsure what people mean when they say they are looking for a romantic relationship. I don’t think I have every heard a definition that describes the behaviors that I see in people that describe themselves as romantic.

What do you think makes a love romantic? Do you think it is any different than other kinds of love?

The Matrix of Romance and Sexuality

What is the difference between romance and sexuality?

While talking with people about love there begins to be a separation between the physical side of attraction and the mental side of attraction. Even though we can use the same language to discuss them, they are (for the most part) separate drives.

The Sexual Romantic Matrix

The Matrix of Romance and Sexuality includes a variety of orientations that people exhibit in romantic and sexual attraction. The matrix includes aromantic and asexual for clarity, but those two have an implication about intensity that shouldn’t be applied to the other positions. I have listed the orientations on a scale of hetero/homo (different/same) instead of a femininity/masculinity scale so it can apply to more than just biological sex and social gender. For example: you may be sexually oriented toward people of a different race, or romantically attracted to people of the same religion. My hope is to make this chart versatile for you.

One of the very interesting zones of the matrix are the ones that are colored in peach. Those are variegated orientations where your sexual orientation and your romantic orientation have very little overlap. This happens with surprising frequency, people that form emotional romantic bonds with people that are different from their sexual interests.

Types of Attraction & Other Factors

There are some factors to consider other than just orientation. Orientation answers a question about who you are attracted to, but not really the how. So, lets set the groundwork for applying attraction types.

  • Primary Attraction – You experience attraction immediately, based mostly on exterior qualities. This is love at first sight or immediate sexual attraction. Primary sexual attraction comes into play when you are attracted to a celebrity or entirely unknown individual.
  • Secondary Attraction – You experience attraction after a dependency is met. For example some people only feel sexual attraction after they form a romantic bond.
  • Tertiary Attraction – You experience attraction reactively. As a result of someone else’s attraction to you attraction begins in you.

For most people all of these types of attraction can occur, but there are some people that do not experience primary attraction. In the arena of sexuality people who do not experience sexual attraction without first experiencing romantic connection often label themselves Demisexuals, and people that only experience sexual attraction to intelligence call themselves Sapiosexual. Both are examples of people that only experience secondary attraction. People that only experience tertiary attraction use the prefix litho- (lithoromantic, lithosexual, etc.). People that very rarely experience attraction often describe themselves as Gray-A.

Hopefully the matrix will help you understand yourself, or someone you love, a little better.

Matrix of Sexuality and Romance

Be A Dad Project Continues

Rose is back at work. This means that I am back to double duty as Dad/Marketer/Janitor/Zookeeper. Trying to accomplish 3 or 4 things at once every moment of every day. Which I love. I get to use my problem solving brain to filter down to what must.

At any given time I can be making progress on a number of things, but one has to be done. The deck gets shuffled to accommodate and the list of things I do in a day are often longer than the list of things I planned to do, but didn’t.

My biggest challenge right now comes from the motivations of my kids. One who is exerting his independence in a world where he only has three things he can reliably do “by self” as he puts it, none of which are things I want him to do unsupervised, and one who needs constant reassurance that she is still safe without mama in the house.

Wonder Weeks has been helpful. Mainly because it reminds me that Ruby is terrible because babies are terrible, not because she hates me in particular.

But, the boy is developing well and is a reliable helper when it comes to comforting the baby. Thankfully he likes his new responsibilities as a big brother. My short term goal is to get back into working out, because he also likes miming whatever I do and gets tired, or at the very least bored of bothering me, after a 30-minute workout.

No Two Kids Have The Same Parents

The first time I can remember hearing, “No two kids have the same parents,” was from Rose. It was maybe a year ago.

Those words instantly seemed true, but now, with Ruby in my life, it has been very real. I’m not that much older than when Rock was born, but we are in a different country, we own a house, we own a car, we have a second dog, and most importantly–there are two kids. When Rock popped out we hadn’t done this before; many things were terrifying. Every time he stopped making noise I thought he might be dead. But that isn’t Ruby’s life. Also she snores like a piglet with hay-fever.

The experience that we gained with Rockford has made us remarkably different in our comfort with children in general. Rose is nowhere near as burdened by what-ifs, because we survived an international move and living in a van with our first little monkey–that is hard to top as a challenge. I am more laid-back about the development of Ruby, more understanding that I am of little use to her for the first few months. Thankfully neither of our children seem to be gentle souls. The just scamper/squirm/flop to whatever beat is happening.

Ruby will not get the kind of direct scrutiny that her brother gets (he hits the milestones first), but she will also live with a different kind of scrutiny. She will live in more a panopticon with many eyes, ears, and cold wet noses milling about. Now that we “know” enough to get ourselves in trouble we have to remember that “the same as last time” isn’t the goal. With Rockford becoming more sophisticated and Ruby being an entirely different adorable little monkey my goal is to focus less on the act of parenting. From this point forward I am focusing on being a role model.

I can’t be the same dad to both of them, they are not the same kid (right?). So, I’ll look to enact what I want them to learn, and grow with them, to be a better man. If I tell them to do one thing, but do another myself, I will just raise kids that are the worst of me, and good liars. Personally, I would prefer them to be honest rather than civil (both, fingers crossed). In the end, I hope, they will overlook my parenting failures because they know I am one of the monkeys too–even though I run the monekyhouse.

Who Are You

Recently, I attended an interesting presentation by Dr. Antoinette Izzo. The presentation was based on findings from an anthropological study she is running with the help of UNLV. She found four strong themes in how we label ourselves.

How we label our self, or others, comes from the intersection of:

  1. Our Philosophical Values
  2. Our Ideological Values
  3. Our Identity View
  4. The Practice We Observe

Antoinette confided that this was her first delivery of her presentation, so I am going to take some liberty with what she said (she has not formally submitted any papers on the work yet). I hope that this comes close to the mark.

Our philosophical values are the foundational beliefs we hold that are to some degree changeable through exploration. Our ideological values are foundational beliefs that are embedded and harder to change. When it comes to love my philosophy is love is lack of ego about another’s actions or state. Ideologically, this brings me to believe feelings are always okay, actions range from good to bad.

Because I identify as a dad, a husband, and a silly person, I strive to take actions that display love for my wife and child (soon to be children). But, sometimes being funny/silly on my end leads to discomfort/pain on their end. In these moments my actions of love become really important. These actions include things like:

  • Don’t use words that deny feelings
  • Listen actively when my loved ones speak to me
  • Create space for for them think about their feelings
    • Give time to think
    • Don’t ask them to feel differently
    • Focus on actions, not perceived motivation
  • Acknowledge that disagreements can’t be won

When I label myself, or others, I am trying to describe their actions in relation to my philosophies, ideologies, and existing identity categories. Sometimes this means there will be conflict between what I mean and they understand from my words.

That is a tense moment–I suggest dealing with it by saying some form of, “What does that mean to you?” When someone is hurt by something you say you have most likely attacked one of their beliefs. There is little way to tell which one, though.

Taking responsibility for how your actions affected them is really the least you can do to diffuse the situation. Showing that you care, even before you understand, shows good faith in the process, even if the problem can’t be solved immediately.

The Only Constant Is Change

Once upon a time, Carlos and I were just two old friends who were having some fun dating, soaking in the sweaty summer fun. It was the closest to “normal” our relationship has probably ever been – on our third date I allegedly told him I wanted to have his kids, and about the same time, he told me that monogamy wasn’t a thing that works for him, and we decided to make this thing work forever.

From the beginning, change has been an integral part of our plan: neither of us really thought marriage would be a factor in our lives, but we dove in. I didn’t think that I was interested in participating in a non-monogamous relationship, but I discovered that being with Carlos was more important to me than not sharing him. Once we moved in together, we had to adapt again, addressing my insecurity about his dating, building tools for communication and learning how to live our life together. Every year, every milestone presents new opportunities for our relationship to adapt and grow.

When we began our partnership, I wanted very little to do with the other people in Carlos’s life. I wanted to know who they were, but I didn’t really want to be friends with them. As time went by, it became harder for me to justify avoiding the poly people, especially as I got to know more of them.  On the one hand, Carlos tends to have pretty excellent taste in people, and on the other, I really do enjoy being part of a community, way more than I enjoy avoiding people who may have been involved with my partner.

I am, and have always been, a weirdo. It has taken me long into my adulthood to figure out the ways that my weirdness is shaped, but now that I have a sense of myself, I recognize that I am lucky to have a like-minded community of people who aren’t tied to the lies of being “normal.” I absolutely, unequivocally LOVE that I can call Carlos’s sweetie when I’m having a rough day. I love that Rockford tries using her to get out of nap time (except for the “trying to get out of nap time” part). I love that Carlos tells me, “you should date that person!” even though we all know I’m just going to chicken out or decide that I like my Friday nights at home better.

In many ways, I think I have been very lucky to have come into my forever-relationship this way. I never started another dating relationship with the same level of clarity about the way things would go. Even though Carlos and I couldn’t predict the future, knowing that change would be an inevitable part of it gives us enough of a roadmap to find ourselves every time the path gets murky. Even if our co-habiting, bill-sharing, primary partnership passes on, Carlos and I will always have a relationship, because we made the commitment to bring children into the world and raise them to be the best people they can be.

Whatever things life brings our way, there is comfort in knowing that they will change. My first boss used to tell me about her mother saying, “this too shall pass,” for the good and for the bad. Some things are within my power to change, and some will change despite any effort to stop them. I absolutely have to remind myself to embrace the changes instead of fighting against them, because I am, after all, still me. It’s always there, though, and that is reassuring (and yeah, potentially terrifying). This, too, shall pass, and that’s how it should be.

In Defense of Rules in Relationships

Recently there has been a renewed discussion among poly bloggers about the place of rules within relationships. Wesley Fenza has written a fairly reasonable take on the role rules (or agreements) play in intimate relationships. His premise is that we agree to rules within our relationship to compensate for deficiencies in our own in-the-moment decision making. He described a rule as “a thumb on the scale, weighing the analysis in favor of the prior commitment.” I think that this is true in many situations, but it’s not a comprehensive explanation of why partners agree to rules, or what purpose they serve. Franklin Veaux has written a response to Fenza’s post that is so absurd that I can’t even believe it’s meant to be real. In general, he is heavily scornful of rules in relationships, though, and it’s that general approach that I take issue with.

First, let’s do a little disambiguation: Fenza and Veaux both use “rules” to describe two kinds of agreements, those negotiated and agreed-upon, and those unilaterally handed down. I’m not going to defend unilateral rules – if they make sense in the context of your relationship, that’s fine, but they frequently serve as an ultimatum or a wedge to coerce behavior from one partner. Negotiated agreements, though, are an entirely different creature, and they deserve more examination.

Agreements negotiated between partners serve a couple of important functions. First, they give each party an opportunity to communicate honestly about fears, expectations, past experiences, and other factors of real life that affect the functioning of relationships. We are all in agreement about the importance of communication, and especially when trying to move ethically through changes in our relationships. Fenza says we agree to rules on the expectation that a time will arise when we want to act in ways inconsistent with our prior agreements. Veaux says, “All you really need to do is communicate what you need to feel taken care of, and your partner will choose to do things that take care of you, without being compelled to.” In both cases, they acknowledge that the rules have (or have not) arisen out of communication and negotiation between partners.

Veaux argues that making agreements about how to handle new relationships before the “newcomer” has arrived is equivalent to hobbling them once they do. I disagree. Especially in situations where a previously closed relationship is being opened, I think it’s critical for the existing partners to be honest with themselves about the pitfalls that they can foresee, and open to the likelihood that there will be challenges they haven’t imagined. Negotiating agreements about how to handle such situations makes us better prepared to handle those situations carefully when they do arise. We are not all birthed full-formed as competent executors of open relationships. It takes practice, and often, guidelines. Negotiating and adhering to agreements helps us learn the ropes while minimizing the potential for damaging our existing environment.

Secondly, negotiating agreements with new and existing partners allows us to establish trust in one another. This is important when opening an established relationship, and when building new ones. We agree to terms that ensure each party’s comfort is protected. We continue to build our relationships, being mindful of the boundaries that our partners have set, and in so doing, demonstrate that we are playing on the level. Especially in the world of complicated polycules, agreements (gasp, rules!) give us guidelines for treating other people’s existing relationships with care. Just as we respect the boundaries that our own partners have communicated are important to them, we share our bonafides with metamours by treating them, and their boundaries, with respect.

Despite the way Franklin Veaux and others write about them, most relationships are not founded on immutable, written-in-stone rules. Certainly this isn’t the case in relationships where partners are ethically and honestly working to find a path forward together. Describing a relationship as “rule-based” is as truthful as religious conservatives describing gay marriage as “sodomy-based.” Don’t mistake a tool for a foundation. Agreements are made to help the relationship move in the direction desired by all parties involved. Sometimes rules are necessary, not because parties can’t be trusted to act ethically, but because they serve to bring everyone to the same page.


image courtesy marsmet549

Love is a Drug

Love (particularly the romantic variety) acts the same as a drug cocktail. Just like cocaine it is going to introduce you to a huge spike in dopamine and norepinephrine, just like Ketamine it is going to numb your pain, cause change in perception, and disassociate you from your conscious self. The result is a feeling of euphoria, energy, and intensified consciousness. On the negative side there can be intense feelings of withdrawal when love ends. The intense period where we produce everything that is needed to make the object of affection perfect only lasts a few weeks to two years. After that love-halo ends, love that lasts has to transcend merely biological processes and pass into social, psychological, and practical.

In my last post on The Philosophy of Love I discussed the four common philosophical, logical approaches to love as Union, as Robust Concern, as Valuation, and as System of Emotions. Across the philosophical models of love there are themes that can help to connect them and solve some of the weaknesses.

  1. At first Love is a hallucination.
  2. Ultimately, Love is a disassociation of Ego.

Try thinking of love not as the instigator of how you feel, but rather as a description of how you change under its influence. Your fantasies of the future, your decisions that favor the object of your affection, your drive to protect the magical feeling, your vulnerability with the object of your affection–these are not feelings that describe love, these are feelings that allow love to happen.

During the hallucination period, we make the decisions that establish our patterns and build the portions of our life that allow us to sustain ourselves in a state where the object of our affection is seen as an end unto themselves. We work to build a state where we share their emotions not because we have anything to gain, but because we are empowered by the connection. We work toward moving into the next state, the dissociation of our Ego as an act of Love. This brings us to, perhaps, the most important value brought by Love: the feeling of co-joy and timely support (compersion and loving kindness). Long lasting love means reaching a state where you no longer consider how the object of our affection reflects upon you.

Love is one part always remembering the best of our loved one (a dream of the past), one part always believing in their potential (a dream of the future), and one part allowing their presence and connection to be an excuse to ignore the rest of the world’s demands (a dream in the present).

Love is better than a drug because the more places it is applied, the more you can act in ways that are not driven by fear. Love becomes the practice of doing what is right for the moment and accepting the outcome. It may seem scary, but it becomes the rising tide that makes all of life richer, rather than comparing now to the peak hallucination.

Philosophy of Love

Up to this point we have been avoiding talking about love on the blog from the standpoint of philosophy. Today I am going to correct that and walk though the academic side of love.

The first thing that I want to clear up is that this is all going to be centered around interpersonal love, so don’t expect this to explain your love for Harley Davidson motorcycles or mid-century modern architecture. This is all about how one person loves another person, primarily.

When boiling love down, we tend to end at one of four elemental concerns:

  1. Love as Union
  2. Love as Robust Concern
  3. Love as Valuing
  4. Love as Emotion

I am not going to mention specific philosophers in the following descriptions because I want you to address the ideas based on their individual merit, not the people that presented the ideas. If you do want to see a version of this with quotations and citations to individual philosophers visit

Love as Union

love exchange

Love as union is a primarily community based model of love. It is the model that is most at play in a marriage (legal or otherwise) or adoption. Love is the culmination of desire, reciprocation, and social conjunction. Love is the resultant state of subsuming individualism into partnership. The union of two people into joined concern can be both metaphorical and literal. Some adherents to this philosophy believe that only literal, apparent-from-the-outside union constitutes love. Once two people become (or desire to become) We, instead of individuals, they exist in a state of love. Some adherents to love-as-union have described the We as a separate entity from the people that form it, others believe that individuality is in conflict with the state of love.

One of the problems in this philosophy is it has trouble accounting for non-transactional love. If I have to be joined to you in a literal sense it requires reciprocation, which clearly is not always the case. Love as union has gaps in explaining love without goal, or love for the sake of the person, not for their outcome.

Love as Robust Concern

concerned cat

Love as robust concern is a logic based model for love. Person X feels love for Person Y because Y exhibits Virtue π sufficient that X sees the benefit and presence of Y as an end, not a means to reward. This model sees love not as a creation of We, instead it is my concern and volition that put me in a state of love.

Because love in this model sees a person’s love as driven by the individual’s internal motivation and preferences, it better accounts for unrequited love and loving your beloved for their own sake. Robust concern is potentially a very individualistic love because it is based on internal motivations, both known and unknown, so it allows for synergy of personal values. However, autonomy presents a logical hazard.

If your goal in love is to support your beloved’s best interests, how do you enact love when your beloved is acting against what you perceive to be their best interest? If you act in a way that counters their goals you would steal their autonomy. In taking autonomy from them you would be undermining them in the big picture, and so, be disrespecting the model for loving action. This would be a no-win situation in which both action and inaction are against the overall well-being of the beloved. Similarly, how could you love someone whose best interest you don’t want to support because of conflicting desire?

Some theorists on love as a robust concern give it a higher degree of interdependency, that the lover is transformed and beholden to concurrences with the beloved. In taking on empathy and emotional parity with the disappointments and windfalls of the beloved, the lover declines in autonomous identity. Love would then be a vulnerability to the beloved and a submission of personal identity.

Continued love after death, or prolonged separation, also present challenges for a logical valuation, because once a person is beyond your sphere of control, for harm or benefit, how can love be enacted? My personal view on this particular problem is that love for those that are no longer in our life can be handled through applying the formula in the past tense, but that creates an unfortunate line of argument that love is a form of fantasy–which is unpleasant for most people to think about.

Love as Value

Mimi Eunice

Credit: Mimi&Eunice

Within the philosophy of love there are two buckets that love as value falls into: appraisal of value and bestowal of value. Appraisal of value means: you have value, so I love you. Bestowal of value means: I love you, so you have value.

In a recent post on the price of love I discovered that people have a strong aversion to economic metaphors of love. I am going to make a distinction that many other philosophers make between price and dignity. Price is applicable to material goods, like 3 chickens are equal to 1 goat. Exchange of combinations of goods with equal price should be considered as value exchange without loss, because price is interchangeable. People are not interchangeable. Exchange of one person for another results in both incomparable gain and incomparable loss of value, so we will use a different word for value that is not interchangeable; we will call it dignity.

Love as Appraisal of Value

Person X appraises the dignity of Person Y and comes to one of three conclusions: respect, love, or neither. If Person X assess Person Y’s dignity such that Person X values acting in support of Y’s well-being, then X exists in a state of respect. If Person X also lowers emotional protection and reduces drive for self-protection in regard to Y, Person X exists in a state of love. Otherwise, Person X feels neither love nor respect for Y.

Love is the disarming of personal defense to offer vulnerability and accessibility to our beloved based on their display of dignity. This view allows for a clear understanding of depth of love and change in depth because it can be seen as proportional to dignity. Love as appraisal of value also allows for individualism because it is relative to the lover’s personal values and can hold feelings like attraction, protectiveness, etc. as expression rather than cause of love.

Where love as appraisal starts to become strained as a model is when we try to account for selectivity. Discernment of why you love one person and not another with the same qualities, and if you can love a person at one time and not another starts to erode the fundamental idea that human qualities are incomparable. In this model, is it ethical to deny love to someone who displays sufficient dignity? Also, can you have continuity of love even when a change in situation causes a temporary failing of dignity?

There are emotional caveats that can be added to the appraisal of value model to deal with selectivity, but they will take you into realms that are better described by robust concern or emotional models of love. The other option in bridging the gap is to attribute some degree of fantastical thinking to mitigate these issues, either crystallization of appraisal that is held as truth, or a forward projection of potential appraisal.

Love as Bestowal of Value

Bestowal is an a priori view of love. Love exists both before and independent of justification. The bestowal model addresses love in a mystical and ethereal way. It is constituted of unnamable stuff and results in recognition of details to condone itself. With bestowal it goes without saying that the beloved is worthy.

Unlike the appraisal model love is independent of the qualities of the beloved. Constancy is less of an issue because appraisal is descriptive of love, rather than prescriptive. Likewise, selectivity is easily solved by the fact love exists without justification.

Bestowal gives the best accounting for love of community, family, and affiliates. If love is simply projected upon its recipient, many questions posed in the other models are moot, but it creates different difficulties. If there is no reason in love, then there is also no responsibility and no action inherent in love. Bestowal is the model that is most susceptible to construction as delusion and manipulation as it puts the lover in a subsumed state with no agency against love. The lack of practical connection makes being the beloved an arbitrary state that can be evoked and revoked without apparent cause. Potentially this puts both the lover and the beloved in a position of question at all times.

Love As Emotion


The most concise description of an emotion is an intellectual and physiological state precipitated by internal valuation of an entity or object that produces a motivation. Emotions have an input and a response, they have a body feel and a mind image. Emotions are greatly affected by chemical presences (hormones, drugs, etc). Your mind can deduce an emotion from the chemicals the body produces, and your body can produce chemicals as a response to the mind’s images. Emotions are considered to have a target (sometimes called formal object). Both rational responses, like desire to flee, and arational responses, like slamming a door, are considered resultant expressions.

Love as emotion is confounded by the question of whether love should be seen as an emotion proper, like fear and anger, or as a compound emotion that describes the combined effects of proper emotions and their subsequent reactions and interdependencies.

Is Love a Proper Emotion?

If love is a proper emotion, it would require some form of specific target. It is often difficult to distill what this target would be in the many cases; particularly in cases of both positive and negative parts like feeling love for a family member that you don’t like being around. Additionally, love as a proper emotion would require enriching the definition of an emotion to account for some kind of differentiation of resultant expression that doesn’t require the introduction of another emotion to explain sexual and non-sexual love. Clearly if love is an emotion, it isn’t proper.

Is Love a Compound Emotion?

If love is an emotion, it is much more likely a system of proper emotions, or an arational resultant expression of that kind of system. This would allow for a very comprehensive understanding of selectivity and receptivity that includes intellectual and biological interactions with less stress to the model. Discernment becomes a knowable quantity for a person because it is a simple comparison of feeling a greater quality of yes than you feel quality of no.

A compound emotion model can allow for a wide variety of contextual values for continuity of love because it can address depth of love as the summation or synergy of several concurrent emotional responses. Likewise, a compound emotional model can allow for physical and community desire to be separated–this means that romantic and sexual can be seen as separate, but potentially compounding. If love is seen as a system of emotions you can also account for love being projected onto future or past. Compound emotion model allows for contributions of interconnectedness to influence the love as a resultant state.

If love is a system of emotions resulting in a state of empathetic response and supportive desire, then love can be seen as a historical narrative instead of an attitude. Each emotional response can be seen as additive, leading up to the eventual summation of love. Specific events, both positive and negative, can collect as a whole within the system. A wide variety of manifestations can then be covered under the umbrella of love: pleasure, frustration, hurt, etc.

If love is an emotion, then you need to account for external forces, fungibility, and irreparable loss of self. Because emotions are intimately linked to biological substances, that would mean that love could be fabricated, manipulated, and eradicated through external means. Further, regardless of the constituent parts, love can then be measured as biological processes, which makes people interchangeable and chemically reproducible. If love is an emotion and results in empathetic response, then you as lover are both bodily and mentally beholden to your beloved.

The gap that I see in love as an emotion is that the model allows for a passivity that acts against the general account of love as requiring expression.

What Does it Mean?

I can’t encapsulate all of love in a single model. Each of the distillations of love clearly has pieces that supplement and compliment the other models. The reality is that to adequately describe all of the qualities and actions that we associate with love would require, in some degree, to see love as being all four (Union, Robust Concern, Value, and Emotion) simultaneously.

To this end I have been working on two different approaches to a more unified conception of love that openly ignore the boundaries described above, and instead seek to connect their common themes.