Romantic Love and Sexual Behavior: Perspectives from the Social Sciences

Romantic Love and Sexual Behavior: Perspectives from the Social Sciences

Romantic Love and Sexual Behavior: Perspectives from the Social Sciences

Romantic Love and Sexual Behavior: Perspectives from the Social Sciences

Synopsis

Westerners believe that love makes life worth living; that sex is a natural desire different in kind from love; and that only cynics reduce our love life to a calculation of economic or genetic factors. In this volume, essays explore these and other assumptions about the relationship between romantic love and sex. This represents the first interdisciplinary social science study of love and sex.

Excerpt

It is taken for granted that love leads to sex and then to marriage or, for some, to marriage and then sex. Couples, heterosexual and homosexual, do have sex without love and, on occasion, marry without mutual love. But such sexual acts and marriages, we assume, are less legitimate, less worthy, and less complete than those catalyzed by and enveloped in love. This causal relationship has not always been a cultural axiom in the West, nor do we expect it to be true in the non- Western world where marriages are arranged on the basis of familial interests rather than the affective bond of the couple. Yet we cannot help believing that somehow the deep and intense emotions of being "in love" must be universal and that these emotions, when they are mutual, must find their way into a sexual and probably marital relationship. Is romantic love a cultural universal? Does it inevitably lead to the marriage bed, or any bed, for that matter? If love legitimates sex, will individuals motivated by "love" view sex differently from those who are not? Do males and females view love in the same way? Does love diminish the risks of unsafe sex? Are there different sex styles as well as different love styles? Is the enthrallment in which a charismatic leader hold his or her followers the same as "being captive to love?" Although love feels like an unmeasurable quality, can we analyze it as a measure of investment in another person?

These are some of the questions the authors in this volume examine. This volume represents the first interdisciplinary collection of studies that explores the many ways romantic love and sexual relationships may be understood and related to one another. Included are historical . . .

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