A Prototype Analysis of the Cultural and Evolutionary Construction of Romantic Love as a Synthesis of Love and Sex

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
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  • 1 Professor, Institute of Asian and Transcultural Studies, Vilnius UniversityVilniusLithuania
  • | 2 Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, University of CaliforniaRiverside, CAUSA
  • | 3 Department of Anthropology, University of ConnecticutStorrs, CTUSA
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Our goal is to use prototype analysis to distinguish the folk or culturally held understandings of love, romantic love, and sex and to specify, from the obtained data, the semantic relationship among these three associated concepts. By considering the semantic distinctions between these three concepts, we come to an unintended insight: if romantic love is a socio-cultural universal it does not appear to have the same evolutionary history as love or sex and this may account for its somewhat ambiguous status in the scholarly literature on romantic love. We demonstrate that, in the United States, sex, in and of itself, is seldom conceived of as a relationship while love and romantic love are primarily viewed as relational. Our findings, though preliminary, strongly suggest that romantic love is a synthesis of two evolutionary drives: love (or bonding) and sex.

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