Academic journal article The Yale Law Journal

Restatement of Love (Tentative Draft)

Academic journal article The Yale Law Journal

Restatement of Love (Tentative Draft)

Article excerpt


Custom has long been the authority in matters of love. Men and women have turned almost unthinkingly to tradition and prevailing social norms for guidance in the tender passion. Yet the Bar of late has come to acknowledge that the lack of codification in this realm has left a rent in the otherwise seamless web of the law. To address this gap, the Reporters have set forth the Restatement of Love.

No doubt some will question the departure from tradition that the Restatement of Love represents. Although the legal rules pertaining to marriage, divorce, and estates have been well established, the law's application to a relationship's early stages has hitherto been largely unexplored. Romantic relationships have been presumed unsusceptible to a structure of rules, perhaps because of the widespread belief that love is the most intimate and idiosyncratic of human emotions. The Restatement of Love, however, is premised on the view that love, like all other aspects of human interaction, can be subjected profitably to legal analysis.

Scope of this Restatement. Currently, matters of the heart are governed by a complicated network of unwritten norms that specify the parties' rights and obligations. These mores, though subject to extensive discussion in almost every field of human endeavor, ranging from art to literature to the social sciences, have yet to be put to the rigor of legal scrutiny. The Restatement undertakes this task. It codifies the underlying principles of love and, where appropriate, draws on established legal doctrines from other fields. The claim has been made that "[t]he heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing."(1) By distilling a universal, reasoned framework for relations of love, the Restatement will refute this widespread, but mistaken, view.

This Tentative Draft is not exhaustive. It merely begins the process of identifying and cataloging the law of love. Readers should not expect to find all applicable areas of the law treated fully and completely. The Reporters anticipate that the project will culminate in the compilation of a complete and authoritative code.

Organization. This Restatement consists of four Chapters. Chapter 1, Meaning of Terms, sets forth the basic definitions that this Draft employs. Chapter 2, Courtship, surveys the three principal models under which relationships begin: the blind date model, the informal acquaintance model, and the aggravating circumstances model. Chapter 3, The Course of the Relationship, examines four major legal areas in which developed doctrines shed light on the law of relationships: jurisdiction, procedure, property, and torts. Chapter 4, Dissolution, governs the various aspects involved in the act of dissolving a relationship.


This Chapter defines the terms used in this Tentative Draft. Many commentators resist established definitions in the context of love and argue that these "ancient" categories are "crude and unworkable."(2) Some contend that such categories are mere constructs, designed to push people toward conventional relationships.(3) But law, by its very nature, relies upon a common understanding of the terms that define it.(4) This Restatement will employ the following neutral and modern terms in order to encompass the greatest number of possible situations.(5)

[sections] 1.1. Interest

An interest is the object of any human desire.


Although this definition mirrors that found in the Restatement of Torts, Second,(6) readers are cautioned that the term has somewhat different connotations in this field.

[sections] 1.2. Party

A party is any natural person engaged, or potentially engaged, in a relationship.


Alternate and colloquial terms to describe the parties within the relationship include, but are not limited to: boyfriend, girlfriend, significant other, partner, lover, sweetheart. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.