Love as a Social Construct
As animals, we are creatures of habit. We seek to maintain status quo’s, by following in the footsteps of our predecessors. Hence the idea of a doctor’s child feeling inclined to pursue medicine, as it is what they have learned through their role model. Humans have always been bound by this repetitive cycle.
This phenomenon surely has a name, but for our purposes let’s refer to this as the Cycle Phenomenon, that is the desire to internalize and recreate the world that we are introduced to, through taking on social norms and roles of those we look up to, or see as more socially developed then ourselves. As with most animals, when we are born, there is natural biological instinct to be cared for by a caring figure, which social norms have primarily dictated this to be a maternal role, rather than a paternal role. This care is necessary to allow the baby to survive, as babies are not physically capable to survive on their own without a parental figure.
This feeling is distinct from the romantic love we feel, which the Greeks distinguish by titling this “Agape”, one of the four primary types of love in their language. Here it is important to mention that, as this sense is observed largely in the animal kingdom, it suggests that there is in fact a biological basis to this, as without this care humanity would not be able to thrive. Getting to the point though…..
Agape can not be defined as a certain amount of synapses connecting, or neurons being fired off, but a social norm of taking care of our youth, in order for them to grow to be able to contribute to society. Due to this, we feel it appropriate that all relationships we enter must too fit this bill, as it is what has always been taught that this is what relationships are.
Throughout childhood, we are (typically) taught that we are loved, and it brings us into this world where meaningful relationships are predicated on this notion of love. This is further instilled through the fact that the romantic relationships we develop carry an expectancy that after a certain period of time, you will fall in love. This pressure to feel love, driven by media, and surrounding ourselves in others who use the term to describe relationships only seeks to continue this idea. It becomes a social requirement for relationships, which in turn invalidates the meaning behind it, if it is simply something we must say, or we must do. This ties back into the initial concept of the Cycle Phenomenon, that we seek to hold what we are born into. With such a population being born into families with parents that are “in love”, we seek to repeat this. And so we do, with the relationships we fall into.
Love is created out of the social desires to meet the status quo, of others being in love too. Love is a socially constructed idea that we have come to understand as natural, however this is part of the overnaturilization (not a real word but whatever) of non-biological phenomenon has been the grounds for many disasters throughout our history, such as extensive acts of prejudice and racism. (see 1940’s Germany) Although i’m not even hinting at the suggestion that this falls into anywhere near similar categories, it is important to acknowledge the divide between what is natural, and what we lead ourselves to believe is natural. Thus saying love is something we actively choose to believe in, likening to concepts like religion, enabling some to chose not to believe in the idea.