What is love - Are love and romance nothing but socially constructed?

Term Paper, 2005

27 Pages, Grade: 2,5


Index of contents

1 Introduction
1.1 Love is nothing, but without love everything is nothing.

2 The show of love
2.1 Romance
2.2 Love
2.3 Relationship
2.4 Growing love

3 The biology of love
3.1 Biological reactions
3.2 Biological heritage
3.3 Sexuality

4 Love as an attempt
4.1 Individualize my world
4.2 Wantings
4.3 Egoistic love
4.4 Successful relations

5 Conclusion

6 Should this knowledge change our behavior?

7 Bibliographic sources

8 Compendum

1 Introduction

1.1 Love is nothing, but without love everything is nothing.

What is this feeling, what makes the hardest men cry, and women get crazy? Mostly love is considered as something unexplainable. Let us try to change that.

Maybe you would think: Hey, how unromantic does he has to be, to think that he could explain love? Let me say this: I trust in love and I am assured certainly able to say that I am really romantic. To write about love, you need a childlike believe in love, but on the other hand an emotionless perspective about it.

This paper is not eligible for explaining every secret, characteristic or anomaly of love and romance, it wants to give a survey about what love is and on what love depends. The theory based upon the arguments of Berger and Luckmann, that reality is socially constructed by society[1], which seems to me to be really close to reality, not in all points, but in a lot of. In respect of this theory an unexplainable thing like love could not exist. So let us try to make love explainable, because otherwise a beautiful thing like love could not exist. And even if it is only in a theory this would be a pity, wouldn’t it?

2 The show of love

How is love and romantic seen today? To explore this, I started a poll[2]. An E-Mail was send to every student of the Zeppelin University, where some questions concerning love and romantic were posed. The hole poll was anonymous, to make sure, that the answers are true. 18 students send an answer, not prestigious, of course, but this could give a tip. The most answers came back send by females (13), but there were no huge difference concerning the questions towards romantic and love between the genders. Also being in love actually does not seem to have any affect.

12 Persons said about themselves, that they are romantic. The answers differentiate not a lot, mostly romantic was connected with the typically romantic images, like candle-light dinner, intimacy moments, little advertencies.

2.1 Romance

Eva Illouz constitutes four premises of making something romantic: time, emotion, space and simulation.[3] To let a moment become romantic, the action has to takes place in a time, which is different from your daily life; it has to be a special time. This does not necessarily mean a sunset, or a Christmas night, it could also mean a moment you make into a special one by changing the normal attitude of the time. The aspect of emotion is directly linked to a person, you feel something for, not implicitly love, but the way and with the possibility to. You also need to give the place a special meaning, or being on a special place where you aren’t always. Even in the hugest crowed a moment could become romantic, if it is possible to create a virtual space around both partners, which differentiate the place for them towards the others. Holding hands, knowing something special about what happened here before, are possibilities to create such a virtual space. By talking about simulation it is meant to deal with special elements or objects. In interviews, Eva Illouz developed as such a special element, “ritually Objects” [translated by the author][4]: to dress specially, eating something precious or a gift what is special, not necessary if because of prize or effort.

But nevertheless, romantic has changed in history[5]. Could this mean, that romantic, as one form of love, is socially constructed? Yes and no. There are images which are socially constructed. Eva Illouz exemplifies this with the break open of the different classes in the thirties in America, when the worker class started to imitate dating schemes of the upper classes. Before this opening the worker class does not feel about how romantic it could be to have a dinner and go out spending some time in restaurants. But with the changes in society, the romance has change.[6] Love the way we know today can just take place because of the ability to it. Only while having time and money and knowing about schemes of romance it is possible to satisfy romance in the way we do it today. Not in vain Eva Illouz called her book “Consume of romance” [translated by the author][7]. But romance is in change again. Today it is more and more also romantic to sit at the beach while a sunset or promenading through a white winter wood, as you can see in the poll. What conclusion could be drawn by it? The image of romance changes, and it is socially constructed. But all images have some features which do not change: time, emotion, space and simulation which make the situation different from your normal life – and this is, what will never change.

2.2 Love

Love is usually linked to two extremes: Fight and repression.[8] Fight means having to conquer your partner, repression meaning doing everything for him. And love is connected with two other extremes: delight and pain. Delight in the way, if love comes true. Pain, if not. In the poll, a lot of students answered question how they know that they are in love like that they can not stop thinking about the person until they see them. And love is not calculable in form of: I give you one kiss, now you have to give me one. “Love serves interest, but interest does not serve love.” [translated by the author][9]

2.3 Growing love

Are there different phases of love? Often is spoken about being enarmoured and about to love somebody. Is there a different? Concerning to the most questionend students: Yes. Also Luhmann says: „In the beginning, which is mostly characterized by being anxious to please , you will often believe to love, without loving; or playing with love, to inflamme with love in front of the first obstacles. At all the obstacles serves the becoming aware and guiding of the passion. Also the first favor given by your lover has a special mark: You can not demand it, but once given, you are able to start here and go on. Once started the process is under his own control of his special code, and first with his flag you come back to a normal, canny behaviour.“ [translated by the author][10] The question is now: Where is the point that love is love? And how could you know it? Is it ok, to say that you really love somebody, but you only know him for a day? In this moment: Yes, because all depends on yourself [compare: 4 -Love as an attempt], if you feel it at the moment, you feel it [compare also: Love as a passion in 4 - Love as an attempt, note 27]. But love has to prove itself as strong. Only if all factores are checked [compare 4.2 – Wantings] you could speak about real love. Surely this would never happen, but you could try to reach an approach.

2.4 Relationship

But love is more than only romantic moments. The aim of love is a relationship with the person you love. But what are the characteristics of a relationship? Frequent answers of the questioned students were loyalty and faith. But a relationship is also to work for it. You have to work for a good relationship? How could this be, if love is unaware? The work is, not to let love become usually. One specific character of love is to be special. And the most harder work is not concerning your relation and your partner – it concerns you. Because first of all you are the person who is in love. So you are also the first point to look at, because everything depends on you [Compare 4.3 Egoistic Love]. But what is relationship concerning society? This is the institutionalized love. A form, which is socially constructed and accepted, for something what is not build by society compare 4 – Love as an attempt]. The harder form of it is the marriage. But marriage is specially by the point of view, that there is religious character, performed in the past by the church, to solve problems of society. It is a compromise between the point of view of church, society and the individualized character of love [compare 4 - Love as an attempt]. That the forms of relationship, and also marriage, are socially constructed is proved by which forms were accepted and performed during the history. It changed more and more, and even the marriage, linked to changes in history and society and therefore socially constructed, changed. Today there is no longer a marriage desired by society, it is only a way of expressing and to affirm your love towards your partner [Compare 33 and 29]. The way you create your relation, as an example how often you see your partner, how you call him, how much you trust him etc, depends on your own agenda, and on what is later called “Wantings” [compare 4.2 Wantings]

3 The biology of love

The status of our unawareness, and with it feelings, is assumed by the neurobiology, “the unimodal organoleptic and the primary motor cortex, the bridge, the cerebellum and the subcortikal, limbical […] and motorical centers” [translated by the author][11].

3.1 Biological reactions

Love does not only depend on feelings. Love could be also measure. The human body reacts while feelings love. Thereby the reaction is not socially constructed. Gerhart Roth, a professor for demeanor-physiology of the University of Bremen, say’s: “To be fallen in love is seen in many cultures as an affection. In fact bears this condition analogy to our stressreaction, namely ahypnia, agitated melancholia, perspiration, hand- and kneetrepidation, clouding of thoughts and a lack of concentration. Infatuation is mainly ordered by unaware allures, including underarm perspiration as a pheromon, the emotional touch of voice, the look, the posture, eyes and gazes. Constitutive involved in the treatment of these allures is the medial Amygdala. Here are Pheromone- and Sexualstuffreceptors, in close neighborhood to stressreactionreceptors. Not in vain infatuation bear traces of being „morbid”.” [translated by the author][12] In the poll 15 students gives answers concerning the question how they realize to be in love that verificated this quotation. Roth call’s this “Conditioning of context” [translated by the author][13]

3.2 Biological heritage

“The classification of feelings at a specific amount of condition and reactions is mostly given by birth. The carnal expression of delight, fear, anger, dolor, disappointment, interest, repression […], but also of flirting (as an example the glance) is – as long as known – everywhere in the world the same, and is spontaneously understood between the cultures (Eibl-Eibesfeld, 1987)“[14] Roth amplifies that critiques of your partner chose are not socially constructed, they depend, by his point of view, on biological heritage.[15] His arguments, as an example he says that always even today women tries to reach the best security for themselves and their children, does not fit to what our society is today. In my opinion, the importance of biological heritage decreases and the social construction gets higher. Berger/Luckmann says: “S[ociety] sets limits to the organism, as the organism sets limits to the society[16] and “Man is biologically predestined to construct and to inhabit a world with others. This world becomes for him the dominant and definitive reality. Its limits are set by nature, but once constructed, this world acts back upon nature. In the dialectic between nature and the socially constructed world the human organism itself is transformed. In the same dialectic man produces reality and thereby produces himself[17].

3.3 Sexuality

Of course there are rests of biological heritage in us, sexuality as an example is the rest of a biological heritage. But sexuality is changing. Today it’s mostly an expression for love, feeling confident, and of course not to forget: fun. In my poll, I talked about before, the question about the importance of sex for an relation, was answered like this:

“Sex should not be the only copula, the only reason of a relationship”, “Sex boosts intimacy”, “Sex gives impetus to a relationship, gives her life”, “Sex is important for the feeling of being wanted – also inside of an relationship”, “Very important. You can’t be closer” [translated by the author][18]. On the other hand 13 of 18 students said, that their first sex was not because of love, or rather they only thought it was love. The conclusion has to be, that sex is more than a biology heritage of reproduction, it is a way of expression feelings and living in a social system – more precisely relationship. And with it, it is sometimes determinate by a society, where it is more and more important to make your sexual experiences earlier. In the poll, the average of students made their first sexual experiences with 15,75. Right, in the middle-ages, this was normal, but the expectancy and the view of life was another, and children have to become adult earlier. But this is no longer necessary today. In Hamburg 175 girls under the age of 18 birthing a baby in the year 2001 (1998: 108), and 206 girls perform an abortion in the year 2002.[19] This all could be a clue, that sex is in the one hand very important for a relationship and for love, but on the other hand it is also fun, including not to take it really serious, and in our society more and more teenagers think they have to make their sexual experiences very early, and with it, it is no longer an expression for love, it only depends on, what society or social groups created as something you need to do. Concerning to Berger/Luckmann this would mean, that having sex is a part of what they call the “reality of everyday life[20], because “it’s taken for granted”[21] – in this case to have sex. Gerhard Roth say’s: “Infatuation and love serves, biological seen, sexuality and with it reproduction, although sexuality and reproduction are partly drifted apart concerning the modern human. As well the linking pin between love and sexuality is close, but not coactive [Note by the author: Compare also the poll, where this is verificated], soonest between infatuation and sexuality.“ [translated by the author][22].


[1] Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The social construction of reality, Anchor Books 1989

[2] cp. the appendum

[3] cp. Eva Illouz; Der Konsum der Romantik, Campus 2003, p.108 - 117

[4] original: „Rituelle Objekte“ Eva Illouz; Der Konsum der Romantik, Campus 2003, p.108 - 117

[5] cp. Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The social construction of reality, Anchor Books 1989, p. 27 – 61 and cp. Niklas Luhmann, Liebe als Passion, suhrkamp , p. 35

[6] cp. Niklas Luhmann, Liebe als Passion, suhrkamp , p. 170 - 171

[7] original: “Konsum der Romantik” Eva Illouz; Der Konsum der Romantik, Campus 2003

[8] cp. Niklas Luhmann, Liebe als Passion, suhrkamp , p. 77

[9] original: “C’est que l’amour sert de beaucop á l’interest, mais l’interest ne sert iamais de rien á l’amour” Michel de Pure, La Prétieuse ou le mystére des ruelles III, Paris 1657, quoted by the edition of Emile Magne, Paris 1939, S. 78

[10] original: „Man wird in der Anfangsphase, die mehr durch „complaisance“ als durch Liebe charakterisiert ist, oft glauben zu lieben, ohne zu lieben; oder auch mit Liebe spielen, um sich dann vor den ersten Hindernissen zu entflammen. Überhaupt dienen die „obstacles“ der Bewusstwerdung und Steigerung der Passion. Auch der erste Gunsterweis der Geliebten hat eine besondere Note: Ihn kann man nicht verlangen, ist er aber einmal erfolgt, kann man hier Tritt fassen und weiterklettern. Einmal in Gang gebracht, gerät der Prozeß unter die Kontrolle seines besonderen Code, und erst mit seinem Erlahmen setzen wieder normale, besonnene Verhaltensweisen ein.“

Niklas Luhmann, Liebe als Passion, suhrkamp , p. 92

[11] original: “der unimodale sensorische und der primäre motorische Cortex, die Brücke, das Cerebellum sowie die subcortikalen limbischen […] und motorische Zentren …“

Gerhard Roth, Fühlen, Denken, Handeln, suhrkamp2003, p. 238

[12] original: „Verliebtheit wird in vielen Kulturen als Krankheit angesehen. Dieser Zustand hat in der Tat mit der Stressreaktion vieles gemein, nämlich Schlaflosigkeit, Unruhe, Schweißausbrüche, trockener Mund, Hände- und Kniezittern, Eintrübung der Gedanken und Konzentrationsschwäche. Verliebtheit wird weitgehend von unbewusst wirkenden Reizen bestimmt, wozu Achselschweiß als Pheromon, die emotionale Tönung der Stimme, das Aussehen, die Körperhaltung, Augen und Blick gehören. Wesentlich an der Verarbeitung dieser Reize beteiligt ist die mediale Amygdala. Dort sitzen Pheromon- ebenso wie Sexualstoffrezeptoren, und zwar in enger Nachbarschaft zu Stressreaktions-Rezeptoren. Es ist deshalb kein Zufall, dass Verliebtheit „krankhafte“ Züge trägt.”

Gerhard Roth, Fühlen, Denken, Handeln, suhrkamp2003, p. 370

[13] Original: „Kontextkonditionierung“

Gerhard Roth, Fühlen, Denken, Handeln, suhrkamp2003, p. 371

[14] original: „Die Zuordnung von Gefühlen zu bestimmten Zuständen und Reaktion ist weitgehend angeboren. Der körperliche Ausdruck der Freude, der Furcht, der Wut, der Trauer, der Enttäuschung, des Interesses, der Unterwerfung […], aber auch des Flirtens (z.B. über den Augengruß) ist – soweit bekannt – überall auf der Welt derselbe und wird auch spontan zwischen Kulturen verstanden (Eibl-Eibesfeld, 1987)“

Gerhard Roth, Fühlen, Denken, Handeln, suhrkamp2003, p. 286

[15] Gerhard Roth, Fühlen, Denken, Handeln, suhrkamp2003, p. 367

[16] Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The social construction of reality, Anchor Books 1989, p.182

[17] Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The social construction of reality, Anchor Books 1989, p.183

[18] original: “Sex darf nicht zum einzigen Bindeglied werden, zum einzigen Grund für die Beziehung“; „Sex verstärkt die Intimität”; „Sex gibt einer Beziehung Auftrieb, hält sie lebendig“;„Sex ist wichtig für das Gefühl des „Begehrt Werdens“ – auch innerhalb einer Beziehung.“; „Unheimlich wichtig. Näher kann man sich nicht sein.“

compare the compendum

[19] Insa Gall, Immer mehr Minderjährige werden ungewollt schwanger, Die Welt, 6. Dezember 2003

[20] Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The social construction of reality, Anchor Books 1989, p.23

[21] Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The social construction of reality, Anchor Books 1989, p.23

[22] original: “Verliebtsein und Liebe dienen, biologisch gesehen, der Sexualität und damit der Fortpflanzung, wenngleich Sexualität und Fortpflanzung sich beim modernen Menschen z.T. weit voneinander entfernt haben. Ebenso ist der Zusammenhang zwischen Liebe und Sexualität zwar eng, aber nicht zwingend, am ehesten noch der zwischen Verliebtsein und Sexualität.”

Gerhard Roth, Fühlen, Denken, Handeln, suhrkamp2003, p. 365

Excerpt out of 27 pages


What is love - Are love and romance nothing but socially constructed?
Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen  (Departement Cultural & Communication Management)
Introduction to Cultural Science
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
856 KB
This paper based upon the theory of Berger/Luckmann about life as a social constructed one. Love and romance are tried to be explain by a sociological view. Includes 12 pages compendium
What, Introduction, Cultural, Science
Quote paper
Matthias Lindner (Author), 2005, What is love - Are love and romance nothing but socially constructed?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/40387


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: What is love - Are love and romance nothing but socially constructed?

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free