a schematic theory of love

back in the days, when I used to exist as a teenager, i came up with a fairly schematic model for amorous relationships. i held onto it for quite a long time, before i turned to politics and completely forgot that major social object that is “romantic” relations.

the theory is quite simple and rather useful, it helps even distinguish kinds of lovingly relationship (i.e., deal with Oedipal-like problems in distinguishing between “brotherly love”, “romantic love” and whatever that is you feel for your parents).

it goes thus:

  1. relationships are like wires, with layers. the more layers, the stronger and more complex. the less layers, the weaker and simple.
  2. outer layers wear off more easily and earlier, inner layers wear off only after the outer ones have done so and take longer (depending on their thickness, of course).
  3. the first, innermost layer of any relationship is admiration. it’s the unilateral feeling by a person that the other’s personality is valuable.
  4. the second, intermediary layer is friendship. it is bilateral, mutual trust in the other’s faithfulness (“i trust you because you trust me”).
  5. the third, outermost layer is sexual attraction. you know what this is.

as simple as it is, this framework can get some things done. for exemple, a “complete” relationship with someone is a relationship one has with their husband/wife. secondarily, relationships with friends are pretty strong, even though they are simpler. parents come in here if they are good parents, but in childhood the kids probably stay on first-layer basis.

you can expect three-layer relations to wear off slowly into friendship and then pure admiration, if they are long. if the second-layer is weak, though, the whole wire is compromised very early on.

i guess it needs some tweaking before becoming anything better (and stand empirical testing). but for a teenage theory, it fares pretty well.



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