Ask The Readers: What Is Romantic Love?

May 17, 2009 by  


I had such a great time reading the responses to my 4 Questions For My Readers.  You guys are so wise and helpful!  So now I’d like to ask for your input again.   

In Creating The New World, Part 1 Love, I defined Love as “the awareness that we are valuable for our individual uniqueness and yet we are all part of the whole”.  It’s about unconditional acceptance and blessing of who a person is.  At the same time, it’s based on the awareness of our interconnectedness.  

In the same article, I also discussed the future of romantic relationship and marriage.  But I skipped the definition of romantic love. 

What is romantic love?

Because I’m so perplexed.  So many people seem to be crazy about getting into romantic love, and keeping their love “alive”, yet I’ve not seen a good definition of romantic love.  It seems people take it for granted what it means.  

I’ve been thinking about this ever since I wrote that article.  What is romantic love?  What is the difference between romantic love and Love, as I discussed in that article?  Is there a difference?  

How do I feel about love myself?  Well, I love pretty much everyone.  (Until, perhaps, someone attacks me.  Which seldom happens as I am spiritually protected.  And if I do get attacked, I’ll see if I can forgive.)  (Oh, but I admit I had a hard time loving George Bush.)  I’m emotionally, mentally, and spiritually poly- or pan-amorous.  Or, at least I’d like to be, and if there are still some kinks (as a physical being, we all have some twists and challenges, which make life more interesting), I’ll see if I can let them go.  

On the practical level, however, I have only certain amount of mental energy in each 24 hour day that tends to go to certain individuals.  In other words, I’m personally more interested in a handful of individuals than others.  So romantic love is love plus intense personal interest?  

At the same time, I feel physical attraction to only certain people.  To make things even more complicated, the person I’m personally interested in is not always the same I get turned on with.  So romantic love is love plus physical attraction?  Or, romantic love is love plus intense personal interest plus physical attraction?  

Is commitment necessary in romantic love?

I’ve heard people say something like, “I’ve decided to love him / her for life.”  That is wonderful, and I respect the sense of responsibility this person exhibits.  I assume this means the person is committed to their partner in the same way they are committed to their own lives.  

I, Akemi, is bound in my physical body and to my physical history.  Whether I like it or not, I’m committed to follow through until it’s time for me to go.  I — my body, my thoughts, my emotions and spiritual beliefs, along with all my external situations and conditions — change with time, but I will follow through.  This is what I mean by “committed to one’s own life”.  

If your commitment to your partner is this much, I really think it’s great.  One lifetime’s uncertainty is quite a bit to take, and you are willing to take another’s in addition to your own.  Honestly, I’ve never felt good to take this much of responsibilities. I want my lovers to be on their own and be happy with or without me.  For me, this is love.  

So I don’t think commitment is a necessary ingredients in romantic love.  I also don’t think shared time and experiences are necessary part of romantic love.  It’s a good part of relationship, but not romantic love.  Dante saw Beatrice only twice.  

What constitutes romantic love?

But this is just how I feel.  What is your idea of romantic love?  I identify at least three ingredients that seem to be necessary for romantic love: love, personal interest, physical attraction.  Are there anything else?  Are all the three necessary?  How are they related to one another?

I appreciate your opinion very much.  Please share in the comment below.  Thank you. (Photo by Lutz-R. Frank)

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12 Responses to “Ask The Readers: What Is Romantic Love?”

  1. Evan on May 18th, 2009 3:47 am

    An elated feeling of closeness that may have little to do with its object. An excellent form of energy to use to establish habits of kindliness and encourage the growth of care, respect and love.

  2. akemi on May 18th, 2009 7:45 am

    Oh…thank you for your comment.

    My friend sent me a link to this link to Triangular Theory of Love. It says there are three ingredients in love: intimacy, passion, and commitment, and romantic love is the combination of intimacy and passion. It’s interesting, but I’m not completely happy with it. For one, I think this theory mixes up love and relationship. No all love leads to significant relationships. When it does, meaning when there is commitment, of course there is a development of further feelings, like trust, familiarity, sense of community. But relationship is not love. In the theory, it lists commitment alone is empty love — I think if it’s empty, there is no love.
    For second, the word intimacy is often used as euphemism of sex, so it’s confusing.

  3. Lisa (mommymystic) on May 18th, 2009 10:31 pm

    Akemi – I had never broken it down like this, but personally I like your definition: “romantic love is love plus intense personal interest plus physical attraction”. However, I don’t know many romantic relationships that definition actually works for, since most are initiated and stuck at the level of attachment rather than love. Or they might be initiated by lust, perhaps taste some small glimmers of love, and then attachment and ego get involved and the relationship gradually spirals downhill into pure ego need and/or want. Basically I think most romantic relationships simply become co-dependencies. Which I know is very unromantic of me, but that’s what I see! I think it’s basically day to day spiritual practice to not let that happen, and to me, that is what commitment is really about.
    Someone twittered a quote from Eckhart Tolle today along these lines: “Two conscious beings realize that the essence of the relationship is the space in it.”

    Lisa (mommymystic)s last blog post..Chakra Yoga MP3s – Guided Walkthroughs

  4. akemi on May 19th, 2009 8:04 am

    Hi Lisa,
    Ah, thank you for pointing out my naivete… yes, I see what you mean. Attachment and codependency are real challenges to true love! And I love that Eckhart Tolle’s quote.

    After more thought, I’m gravitating to drop the “intense personal interest” from the equation. I’m sincerely interested in my friends’ lives and their wellbeings even when my feeling is not romantic. I think the interest is more of a symptom, not a necessary ingredients of romantic love. So, at least for me, romantic love is love plus physical attraction. This fits well because, even though we are infinite as spiritual beings, our physical existence has limitations (my body is either here or there), and romantic love is where love meets physicality.

  5. Online Gratitude Journal My Birthday Month Edition #29 | Yes to Me on May 31st, 2009 3:42 pm

    [...] me check the comments I received this month for this. For my post on romantic relationship, Lisa at mommymystic quoted Eckhart Tolle, “Two conscious beings realize that the essence of the [...]

  6. Sandra Burkhart on September 9th, 2009 4:27 pm

    I think true romantic love is certainly the feelings of love, passion, and devotion. For me, romantic love is a higher form of love than we have for our family or friends. This is not just because of physical intimacy, but because of the willingness to be totally open and vulnerable to the one we are in romantic love with. In this sense, I believe that trust is a big part of romantic love. It is adoration at times, not because it is ideal, but because it approaches the ideal love.

  7. stella on December 20th, 2009 7:40 pm

    thank you for this enlightening post. i just ended a relationship and would appreciate your advice on the best way to get an ex back. thank you so much!
    .-= stella´s last blog ..Mistakes To Avoid To Get Your Ex Back That Will KILL Your Chances =-.

  8. Ben on March 3rd, 2010 9:49 am

    I think it is something which cannot be defined, contained or held on to. Love is really what is left when everything else is taken away. To experience it, it seems I must be fully present in the moment and let go of all preconceptions, it is not something which can be manipulated or controlled and only appears when we relinquish control and release our fears. Really, there are no words to describe experience else we would have just read a book instead of coming to earth for this first hand experience! Love is our truth, our birthright.

  9. Solstice on June 16th, 2010 3:48 pm

    “If your commitment to your partner is this much, I really think it’s great. One lifetime’s uncertainty is quite a bit to take, and you are willing to take another’s in addition to your own. Honestly, I’ve never felt good to take this much of responsibilities. I want my lovers to be on their own and be happy with or without me. For me, this is love. ”

    Oh Akemi, this is an ideal that I still struggle to not beat myself up about because even after extensive work on changing co-dependent behaviors and many much healthier relationships later I still have not achieved this ideal. This letting someone else to be free to come and go and not feel abandoned or lose trust. After an amicable divorce, I am still attempting to define what it is I want now. I don’t know that I want marriage, to make someone promise to stay with me forever because of my own insecurities. But I do seek ongoing companionship with someone who I love and am physically attracted to. I feel for the most part I am happy on my own. But it just seems human to want a physical companion to support you and ride the waves of life with. Someone you know you can count on to be there. Maybe in this New World you can count on so many someone’s even though you are not romantically involved with them that it’s not necessary to have a companion for support. Everyone will support and love everyone.

  10. Natalia on December 23rd, 2010 1:49 am

    I would write the same things, but with other words maybe, as Ben. Romantic love cannot be described. We are so similar, and so different at the same time, our feelings depend on so many things like gender, age, maturity, personal view about life, our experience etc. and absolutely depend on the object of our romanric feelings. So love is not a constant perception even for an individual person. If I put my love into words it would be automatically underestimated. For me it doesn’t matter what are the components of Love, it seems that they vary for everyone of us, as long as they are kept in balance – in one moment passion may prevail, in other moment it is friendship and commitment – no matter what the proportion is, as long as all the components exist.

  11. Jessica on February 3rd, 2011 10:01 pm

    I believe that romantic love is only one part of love. Many people go through relationships with only romantic love and that’s why most relationships these days don’t last very long and are not really fulfilling. I’m writing this based from my experience. True love is when you are connected with someone spiritually, emotionally, mentally, energetically, and romantically. It is more than just romantic love, but it really feels as though you are connected with the other person on a soul level, like you are ONE and once you feel the sense of oneness, you start to feel that sense of connection with everything in life and spirituality. You began to realize you are a soul in physical form. Experiencing true love allows us to open our hearts, mind, body, and soul. I also believe the reason why some of us go through love relationships with other people is to learn more about ourselves and how to love unconditionally.

  12. Jessica on February 4th, 2011 12:37 am

    …and through relationships we can explore forgiveness, acceptance, peace, patience, and again unconditional love…and it’s about finding this inner happiness within ourselves first and then sharing or bringing this happiness to the other…