Free «To What Extent Does Evolution Explain Romantic Love» Essay Sample


Romantic love has for a long time pampered the mind of human beings on its, and how it all comes to be a reality in the minds of individuals who are in love. The ubiquity of love proposes it has played an important role in human development, having close ties to reproductive achievement. Even though, love has been a focal point for poets and philosophers for several years, scientists have largely ignored it until the recent times. Researchers in the social sciences only began seriously to investigate love and romantic relationships in the 1970s. Of recent, many scientists and psychologist have so far come up with various and different reactions on what evolution explain the nature of a romantic love. Actually in the real sense it is strange to understand the evolution of romantic love because so far it has become one part of human beings that have not been understood as they are content in believing that romantic love is something secrets and that it is too hard to articulate.

To begin with and to bring some sense to this topic are a clarification and a definition of the terminology romantic love.  According to Robert Johnson in his book, We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love, he gives a definition of romantic love to be a mixture of involuntary feelings, reactions and ideas of love. It is not love but a complex of attitude about love. He points out of what happens when we say we are in love, and he says, “When we are in love we feel completed, as though a missing part ... had been returned to us; we feel uplifted, ... suddenly raised above the level of the ordinary world. Life has intensity, a glory, an ecstasy and transcendence.” (Chris 2005).According to him, romantic love is an experience of a primal religion, which is both rapture, and a revolution with a fundamental part of collective unconsciousness. Another definition of romantic love is all about feels expressed in a romantic way between two individuals. This romantic love has a dimension of sexual attraction or even lust, which is not limited to that, but to an emotion typically reserved for only one individual or partner. This love carries an expectation of lasting duration experiences involving an intense attraction to the beloved’s whole person, and not just an attraction to the body.

According to an analysis done by Kernberg's Freudian, he explains the central evolution of romantic love to be something special arising from a combination of love, and sex in a proper manner. This evolution begins with something to do with a transcendence of a distinction between one’s self and non-self. It also combines with one self-denial or a simultaneous reliving of one self and shading a close relationship, which exist between the person and the parents.

One the other hand, Shaver, Hazen and Bradshaw on their book has given a modern analysis of evolution of romantic love to have a source from a behavioural system. This behavioural system is a program that is species-universal neural and organizes an individual’s behaviour in such a ways that it increases reproductive success and the likelihood of survival in environmental demands, in the life of human being. Behavioural system is combinations of three systems; we have the attachment system as the first behavioural system. In this system, Shaver gives a view that it is a set of behaviours for example; smiling and looking functioning together to achieve a set goal, which is a certain aspect of proximity to deliver care to someone. These set goals are always pruned to some outstanding factors or changes in life (Chris, 2005). These factors include such things like, unfamiliar surroundings, pain, illness, darkness, or any conditions associated with potential harm to the other person.

Considering this attachment system of the behavioural systems, a theory has been put forward on the attachment between individuals especially those who are in the midst of experiencing romantic love. The theory on attachment starts off when John Bowlb who was a British psychoanalyst during the period between 1907 to199 attempted to give an understanding on the intense distress infant’s experiences, when they are separated from their parents.  This theory of attachment as describe by him has an important concept of attachment behavioural system. Its importance’s is portrayed as it provides a pathway to the conceptual linkage between modern theories on emotional personality and regulation and ethological models of human development. Bowld based his explanation of the theory only on infants but it is not until mid-1980 that some other researchers explore the theory mainly focusing on adult romantic partners. According to these researchers, they argued that adult romantic relationships, just as infant verses caregiver relationships, consist of attachments in which romantic love is a property of it, and it gives rise to care giving and sexuality in a relationship. They elaborate this theory by giving out three implications of adult attachment theory. One of the implications is that if adult romantic relationships are attachment relationships oriented, then same forms of individual differences should be observed in adult relationships just the way it is seen in infant caregiver relationships. For example for children, they feel secure and confident when they are thrown up expecting to be received by someone in response. So just as the way a child feels secured, an adult person in a romantic relationship showed feel secured about the other partner even in the midst of his or her absence. However, in real most of the people in a romantic love may be having a feeling of anxiety or even other portray a kind of an avoidant behaviour. Some of these researchers however, have documented some of the negative factors of the attachment system that can occur during interactions. One of the disadvantages is that the distress that compounded the system is on serious doubts and fears on the reality of attaining a sense of security. John Bowlb states by saying “Is the world a safe place or not? Can I trust my relationship partner in times of need or not?” Considering this kind of fear, relationship partners can hold the attachment system in a continuous activated state causing the other persons mind to have threats and hence in need of protection interfering with the other behavioural systems.

The second behavioural system is a care giving system. This system is attached with the desire of one partner fulfilling and making sure the other person is well. This is mostly experienced with the male partner in whom the culture puts him forth to be a caregiver, provide for the female partner in all situations or circumstances. The care giving system has a set-goal of focusing on one another’s welfare and not to one’s own emotional state. With the third behavioural system, it focuses on sexuality, which is called a sexuality system. Women are believed to be the providers of a sexual fulfilment to a man. This is so because when a man gives a total care to a woman, she is forced to ask for a higher degree of care, which is having a sexual act together with the man. Other examples of behavioural systems are affiliation and exploration. Combining the three main aspects of behavioural system, the physiologists come up with one aspect of romantic love that is romantic love is an autopoietic magician system. In the realm, of romantic love, Shaver and his co-authors stated that the optional functioning of the three systems facilitates the maintenances and formation of a mutual and stable satisfactory affectional bond while on the other hand the malfunctioning of these systems is the source of relational tensions, dissatisfaction, conflicts and instability leading to a break up in a relationship.

The second implication is that just the way infant-caregiver relationships work, adult romantic relationships also should work in the same way to be called an attachment relationship. That is the things that bring pleasure to a child should also be seen amongst the adults in that an individual difference should bring about a rational and personal functioning in their relationship. The third implication is that the experience of a primary care giver is a show of how an adult is secured or unsecured in a relationship with attachment.

Furthermore, the dynamism of romantic love cannot be well explained without a consideration of functioning of the sexual behavioural systems. From an evolutionary perspective, the main function of a sexual system is to pass genes from one generation to another through sexual intercourse with an opposite sex partner. The objectives of this system are to impregnate the other partner that is the woman partner in order to pass one’s genes to the next generation. Apart from this role in the initial stages of romantic love, this sexual system plays an important role in the maintenance of satisfactory, consolidation and, long-lasting romantic relationships. Both partners have an intention of gratify one another’s sexual needs fostering many emotional reactions resulting to a relationship satisfaction and stability in the relationship. Most of the dysfunctions of this system are a major source of conflicts raising doubts on being loved and the interest of one’s person to the sexual partner. Just like the other dysfunctions of the other systems, it can be categorized on terms of deactivating and hyper-activating strategies. Deactivating strategies are characterized by either an erotophobic inhibition of sexual desire, having an avoidant attitude toward sex or a superficial approach to sex divorcing it from other considerations, such as intimacy and kindness. This sexual strategies involve distancing from a partner when one expresses interest in sex, dismissal of sexual needs in all ways, suppression of fantasies and sex-related thoughts, inhibition of orgasmic joy and sexual arousal and repression of sex-related memories,

Looking at the psychology of love, some facts have been discovered on matters concerning the needs of a male and a female in a romantic relationship. Before a romantic love is developed, some factors are considered within the context of the female partner and the male partner.  David Nias and Glenn Wilson, on their book Love's Mysteries, outline some qualities of the two partners. For a male to consider the other partner to be a love partner, physical attractiveness is a major factor (Barnes, n. d). Some other factors to be put in place is whether the person has an erotic ability, social ability, affection ability, domestic ability, an interpersonal understanding of the other person, an art of appreciation accompanied with moral- spiritual understanding, sartorial ability  and an art-creative ability. On the other hand, for a male partner to be considered to have romantic love, he is supposed to have the following quantities. Achievement in all way round especially in leadership, economic ability and occupational ability should be a concern. The person is also supposed to portray some entertaining ability, observational ability, intellectual ability, common sense, theoretical ability and athletic ability. This shows that whereas men are more determined on youth and pleasant appearance of their long-term mates, women are more devotedly attuned to their partner’s status and forecast for acquiring status in their lives. These lead us to another theory, which has so far been successfully developed, and maintain in the explanation of a satisfaction in romantic love relationships. This theory is what is called an interdependent theory.

According to this theory, an individual can evaluate his or her partner basing on a perceived consistency between an expectation or prior standards and perception of the person in the current relationship. To make an evaluation, individual will rely on two standards that are the comparison level of alternatives and the comparison level. The comparison level is the level in which individuals are evaluated in terms of their attractiveness of the relationship and the satisfaction a person gets from it. In other terms, it measures the degree in which general outcome exceeds the expected outcome of an individual in the relationship. On the other hand with the use of the comparison level with alternative, it shows the level of outcome individuals is determine to see from their best alternative partner relationship. Thus this interdependent theory proposes that individuals showed be satisfied with their state of their relationship especially when they think that the outcome is less than they deserve. One vigour, of Interdependence Theory is that it can give details why some people leave seemingly rewarding relationships, while some people continue in apparently poor relationships. A restriction of the theory is that it does not identify the content of individual’s CL or CLalt, and consequently does not address the likelihood that individuals may assess their partners or relationships on content-specific principles or dimensions. Particularly, it addresses little to the evolved goals of men and women in relations, a theme that evolutionary theory purposely addresses. Three programs of study have been investigated on the feelings of love and contentment in relationships by merging elements of interdependence and evolutionary theories (Thibaut, & Kelley, 1978).

In the field of science, romantic love is associated with a substance called neurotransmitters. That is the brain science of love, sex and attraction. Dr. Fisher in a lecture at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in 2004, gave a meaning to the revolution of romantic love, by stating that it not an emotion, rather, it is originates from a motivational system or a drive in the brain. Depending on the nature of the relationship, this drive is linked to all emotional parts in the human body. She goes forth and divides romantic love in to three categories that are lust, which is a craving for sexual gratification and is mostly driven by estrogens and androgens. There is also attraction, which is a passionate or romantic love with a characteristic of euphoria when things are in place and terrible-mood swings when not in place. Attachment is also another aspect, which is a sense of peace, stability and calmness in oneself when attached with a long-term partner. This is mostly driven by oxytocin hormone and vasopressin hormones (Carter, 1992). Attraction is driven by high levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, and low levels serotonin. In her undertakings, she gives an estimation of societies that romantic love exist to be almost 150 societies (Fischer & Jankowiak, 1992).

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To bridge the cap in the study of romantic love, and emotions in the relationship, is a description of a model of love and anger-upset. Malamute and Ellis as a way of providing an organizing framework for relationship progress in relation to a positive or a negative experience of emotions developed this model called discrete system model. The feeling of love and anger in a romantic relationship can be as a result of a cause or consequences of an action (Lewis & Havilland, 2000). There view on this is based on the evolutionary theory on the functions of emotions whereby it conceptualizes emotions as an adaptation that keep an eye on important costs and benefits in the surroundings and function to regulate behaviour in ways that augment the individual’s capacity. The Discrete Systems Model states that, the nature of emotions of anger-upset and love corresponding to different adaptive problems in close relationships then they motivate and prepare an individual to engage in various forms of partner-directed behaviour.


Considering the whole entire theories and aspects of romantic love it is still a strange part of human beings which, still need some further understanding through research So far there are many scientist and physiologist who are doing a detailed research on the evolution of romantic love at the moment. Giving a consideration that offspring and any creation coming in to being either in animals or in human beings is because of two individuals having a physical intimacy then it is a show that romantic love has an evolution, a beginning. Through infancy, children are though romantic love when they are under the care of there parents. When they are old, enough they start seeking for someone who they can find an intimacy with and because of this; they start feeling attracted to each other. Intimacy follows with a deep romantic relationships they involve themselves in a sexual act and the same is recorded in many societies. Romantic love comes through an evolution of various things.


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