The Dark Side of Relationship Pursuit: From Attraction to Obsession and Stalking

By William R. Cupach; Brian H. Spitzberg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE

The Evolution
of Relationship Intimacy
and Intrusion

We are supposed to pursue the things we love. It is something bred deeply into our consciousness, half memories of 5 million years of primate evolution and 5 millennia of interactions in communal endeavors creeping toward civilization. Both individual survival and the promotion of progeny require coupling, communicating, and mating. Love is more than a mere selfish symptom of nature, which Tennyson described as "red in tooth and claw." Love is the dream as well as the drive, our saving state of grace and the shadow of our despair. In love is the seed of pursuit of such dreams, and the shadows in the nightmares that dreams may become.

Love has been socially constructed throughout history as an entity unto itself (e.g., Buss, 1994; Fisher, 1992; Giddens, 1992; Hunt, 1959; Kern, 1992; Murstein, 1974; Roussel, 1986). Many people across many cultures of the world still form their primary mateships and marriages based on parental prerogative rather than romantic rapture. The cultural concept of romantic love is itself a relatively contemporary construction, and has undergone considerable contemporary social revision (e.g., Bailey, 1989; Holland & Eisenhart, 1990; Phillips, 2000; Radway, 1991; Rothman, 1984). But what a concept it is. The manifestations of love display the mundane and the deviant, the beautiful and the bizarre, the affectionate and the aggressive. "Wherever there is the possibility for romantic interaction and attachment, there is also the possibility for obsessive attraction, and stalking tendencies" (Lee, 1998, p. 414). "If there is a heart of darkness in the desire to bond with another, it is stalking" (Meloy, 1999b, p. 85). Such ironies of love have fascinated poets and scientists alike, and are very much the spine of the story of stalking and unwanted pursuit.

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