Romantische Liebe: Weltweit und zeitlos oder Erfindung der (westlichen) Moderne?

Gegen evolutionäre Biologie wird gerne angeführt, dass deren Betrachtungen bereits deswegen unzutreffend sind, weil romatische Liebe etwas neues ist, was es früher nicht gab, da habe schlicht die Familie, insbesondere die Eltern die Beziehungen arrangiert.

Dazu gibt es eine interessante Untersuchung, die Legenden und Sagen ausgewertet hat. Das Ergebnis vorneweg:


Man sieht also, dass die romantische Liebe weltweit in (alten) Erzählungen eine Rolle spielt.

Aus der Studie zunächst zur Definition, die verwendet wurde:

Harris’s detailed synthesis of previous academic definitions:

1. Desire for union or merger, both physical and emotional

2. Idealization of the beloved

3. Exclusivity (reciprocal)

4. Intrusive thinking about the love object

5. Emotional dependency

6. Reordering of motivational hierarchies or life priorities

7. Powerful empathy and concern for the beloved14

In our view this is an impeccable definition, but for the benefit of our content analysts we also produced a more concrete and accessible version that would not require additional definitions of the key components.
Romantic love is “a feeling expressed in a romantic context between two people; it has a dimension of sexual attraction, even lust, but it is not limited to that; it is an emotion that is typically reserved for only one person (though romantic love is not necessarily inconsistent with sexual promiscuity); it carries the expectation of lasting duration; it involves intense attraction to the beloved’s whole person and is not just about attraction to the body.”

Da wird einem selbst gleich romantisch ums Herz. Der evolutionäre Rahmen wird dabei auch deutlich: Es geht um eine Bindung, die den Sex exklusiv macht und ein gegenseitiges Einstehen für die Aufzucht der gemeinsamen Kinder bewirken soll.

Aus der Studie:

Considered as a whole, our material covers all the attributes of romantic love. “Falling in love” is described as a distinct and recognizable process in tales from regions as diverse as West Africa, Japan, North and South America, the Middle East, Polynesia, China, and Europe. Our instances of intrusive thinking come from cultures so diverse as Hawaii (where a young woman professes to love the King so much that she thinks of him day and night, and even in her dreams, and another woman weeps bitterly because the thought of her absent lover never leaves her); Punjab in northern India (where an enamoured youth cannot eat or sleep for love of a beautiful princess); and the Western Yugur steppe of China (where a boy suffers from “lovesickness” and is eventually cured). Wherever lovers are separated for long, intrusive thinking is attended by pain or Jonathan Gottschall and Marcus Nordlund 461 even despair. This emotional dependence takes on cosmic proportions in a Maori tale of creation where the Sun weeps so hard over his separation from his mistress Earth that his tears eventually turn into oceans. We have also found examples of emotional commitment, empathy, and exclusivity so strong that lovers are either prepared to sacrifice their own lives for their loved ones (as in a Japanese tale) or continue their relationship beyond death (in a tale from the Heiltsuk Nation of British Columbia, two lovers swear that the one who dies first will return to bring the other to the kingdom of the dead). Other examples are more complex. One tale from the Middle East provides a particularly unpleasant example of how strong love can coexist, without apparent contradiction, with moral judgements that seem diametrically opposed to it. A husband loves his wife so much that he is “ready to sacrifice his life to satisfy her whim.” He is, however, also prepared—on the advice of none other than his trusty dog, who has ten wives and controls them all perfectly—to take a heavy stick and give her a good beating across the back because she is too curious about his secrets.

Die entsprechenden Geschichten auszuwerten ist aus meiner Sicht ein interessanter Ansatz und bereits in den uns bekannten Geschichten spielt auch tatsächlich Liebe häufig eine Rolle. Das Liebe eine neue Erfindung ist, ebenso wie Begehren und Partnerwahl, erscheint mir aufgrund der klaren Mechanismen, die wir dafür haben, eine unhaltbare These.

Dazu auch: