The strange thing about love is that even though we experienced it in a deeply personal and apparently instinctive way, it has a history. In other words people around the world haven’t always fallen in love the way they do now. The point of rehearsing a few of the telling moments in love’s history is to remind ourselves that there are different ways of arranging relationships depending on what a given society happens to believe in. Love is a cultural invention, and we are not at the end of its evolution. We may in fact be still only at the early stages of the history of love; we’re still learning what we need and how we might get more successful at love the Euphrates Mary’s ship to the princess of the neighboring Kingdom of young had far from being the outcome of love this marriage like that of many between powerful people in the ancient world is purely transactional mari occupies a critical position in the trade routes between Syria and Mesopotamia and marrying ship to will allow them real in to expand his wealth and power Henry Lin’s attitude to marriage continues with his children he marries off eight of his daughters two rulers of neighboring cities forcing each of his new son in laws to sign a document pledging themselves to him the people of mari are in effect saying that what gives a marriage meaning isn’t how much the couple happened to love one another but whether it’s beneficial in terms of trade connections and wore this is so alien to us it’s worth reflecting on just how much we nowadays refuse to entertain at least in public any practical considerations when Mary feelings are meant to be our only load starts and yet for thousands of years until only a minute ago on the historical clock it was unambiguously meant to be only about land power and money the notion that you should love your spouse would have seemed plain laughable this may have created a collective trauma we’re still in flight from. France, 1147AD. Jaufré Rudel, the Prince of Blaye set sail for Tripoli in modern-day northern Lebanon he has off to see the Countess of Tripoli with whom he has fallen deeply in love rudel is one of the earliest known troubadours or skilled court poets who rise to prominence in southern France in the 12th century and write poetry on one subject exclusively love rudel has written many poems in honor of the countess and want to write some more in her presence but Rudy’s idea of love is very particular and at that time dramatically new it’s love that’s utterly divorce from practical considerations that doesn’t involve children money dynasties or even any kind of reciprocation the troubadour poets never tried to have sex with the objects of their love their focuses exclusively on what we would call the infatuation or more colloquially the crush side of love rudel has fallen in love with the countess without ever having set eyes on her pining away for his lady from hundreds of miles away he composes and sets to music many songs expressing grief and joy unfortunately he falls ill on route to his lady and has to be stretched into Tripoli whether counters hears about him and visit him in his chamber rudel recovers momentarily before dying finally at peace very chase Lee in her arms the troubadours took love very seriously only they didn’t see it is linked to marriage romantic love is something you fell for someone you were never going to do household chores with and that may be the secret of its intensity this kind of love was spared too much contact with daily life rudel could imagine how lovely the Countess of Tripoli was without ever having to dispute with her about the right place to hang a tapestry will get frustrated if she didn’t particularly want to do a special embarrassing thing for him in bed that love could remain pristine the troubadours show us a historical moment when the idea of love was not tied to the notion of moving in together or to the intertwining of two practical economic and social lives using the same toilet Sharon utility bills and trying to go on camping holidays with your partner’s friends versailles france fourteenth of september’s 1745 at six o’clock in the evening in a move engineered and planned for weeks general 28 price on a 23 year old beauty from Paris, rouged, powdered and wearing a black off-the-shoulder dress enters the cabinet de conseils, approaches can do with the fifteenth and curtsies three times. This simple gesture makes it official. Jeanne-Antoinette is the King’s maitresse déclaré, or chief mistress and from now on she will be known as madame de pompadour and resided court with the King the king has by this point been married for 20 years but marriage doesn’t mean fidelity. You marry for reasons of State and you have mistresses on the side no one gets upset that’s just what happens with the 15th has several mistresses including 14 year-old Mary Louise Oh Murphy who is painted in a famous semi pornographic painting by force where she at Versailles in the 18th century there was an acceptance of the imperfect fit between marriage and love it was understood that they would always be attention between the two marriage was for children practicality and continuity love was for excitement drama and sex one should never try to blend the two rather than be under hand or deceitful like many people are today the King of France simply split love for marriage and without shame or guilt made his romantic attachments and organized and public part of his life with his wife gretna green Scotland first of January 1812 a couple has just got married in a secret ceremony John Lampton the first Earl of Durham who is portion has land and responsibilities and Harriet the illegitimate daughter of the Earl of john daly who has no money and little social status but is very pretty are now man and wife their families are furious and have tried desperately to stop the wedding but the couple are modern which means that they believe that in marriage love should come first and practical considerations second they’ve gone to Gretna Green a village just inside Scotland to escape english law and they are examples of a new philosophy of Romanticism which privileges feeling over reason and impulse over tradition romanticism transforms love the old system of marrying for political or economic advantage Stoli crumbles around the world the village of Gretna Green become synonymous with illicit marriages and John and Harriet are among hundreds of English couples in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to reload their the public appetite for stories of romantic descent is such that the local priest publishers some best-selling memoirs of his time they’re full of daring coach right across the border and the wrath of one consulted fathers who reached the runaway children just too late gretna green becomes an important place because there’s a growing belief that marriage should be the consequence of love and that if two people love each other that alone is what matters in come the standing of the wider family career and how the parents and/or might get on seems irrelevant and more than that they begin to be cast not as wise serious matters which really ought to be taken into account but as things that could only seem relevant to County father’s snobbish arms and dried up conventional people with no care for the happiness of a couple mostly when we want to do something we take advice if we can from people who’ve done it before gretna green stands for a remarkable shift in thinking around relationships which is still powerful today the assumption that people who have already had marriages are likely to be very poor advisors and guides to the young love is understood to be an enthusiasm not as kill London England 1813 Readers of Jane Austen’s latest novel are on the edge of their seats as Fitzwilliam Darcy stumbles his way through a proposal to Elizabeth Bennet his offer of marriage promises to fix all her problems not only is he handsome but he’s rich and Elizabeth family with for unmarried daughters to support badly needs all the cash they can get but Elizabeth says no Darcy for all his gifts is also arrogant and a snob pride and prejudice may suggest women marry for money but Elizabeth actions reveal a new and some first of belief rapidly gaining currency in English society that they should love the man they betrothed themselves – it’s an idea Austin support strongly 11 years earlier she had herself rejected a proposal of marriage claiming anything is to be preferred or injured rather than marrying without affection in her greatest novel however things turn out for the best eventually after many twists and turns and despite her lack of standing and money Elizabeth and Darcy Mary what continues to strike readers today is that Jane Austen is deeply concerned about romance and about money to marry only for money is she argues a disaster but equally she holds that to marry only for love is a terrible folly to in Austin’s eyes a good marriage requires warmth and tenderness of heart and strong practical worldly managerial competence and from this austin draws the conclusion that few people are actually that well suited for marriage she’s unsurprised that many marriages are a little hollow or a little grim Austen’s novels to pick numerous unsatisfactory relationships and only a few very happy ones in the early years of the 19th century Jane Austen is defining the wise ideal of modern love she sees marriage as a hybrid enterprise in some respects it’s like running a small business or organizing a village fete if you don’t keep track of the practical details and don’t have quite an efficient turn for administration things are going to go badly wrong but at the same time marriage is a profoundly complex emotional encounter and to thrive in it one needs emotional maturity affection playfulness and warmth through her novels Jane Austen is trying to present the reader with an education in a truly classical way she believes we can do a few things well if we leave our performance to nature luck and chance happy relationship depends on the maturity of both parties in Pride and Prejudice with Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy have to be improved he has to lose his pride and she has to shed her prejudice if they’re to be capable of living well together love is something we need to learn london 24th of november 1859 it’s the day Charles Darwin publishes the origin of species there is a huge initial resistance but eventually much of the world is convinced by his arguments human beings are descended from the primates and that means that we’ve inherited not just the skeletal structure but also a lot of their drives and basic psychology Darwin’s detractors are aghast at the implied humiliation but that’s consolation and Darwin – because he suggests that our inability to live up to our ideals is not wholly our own fault we are anytime half apes and apes to aim for faithful life long passionate egalitarians relationships is to attempt to pull off something hugely difficult starting from a very unpromising base no wonder we often fail without particularly intending to Darwin rushes in a strategic and useful pessimism about relationships rather than being for instance essentially monogamous he implies that human beings might by nature at least be predisposed to as many apes are polygamy opportunistic sex and the dumping of one made for another on the basis of nothing more than their breathing potential signal by such unedifying and unspiritual characteristics as how big their breasts are aquatic park san francisco United States August 1965 Jefferson Poland wearing a flower behind his ear strips off his swimming trunks and weights naked into the sea Poland is one of the world’s first hippies he wears his hair long and rejects the sophistication of modern life for a romantic notion of getting back to a natural state of grace behind him and three other protesters braving the icy cold ocean water is a cheering crowd of beatniks and anarchists who hold up signs and charge the phrase sex is clean, law is obscene in front of a hastily assembled group of reporters this event is one of many organized by groups advocating free love in the nineteen sixties in America they argue that society’s rules against nudity same-sex relationships and sex before marriage for all forms of sexual repression soon monogamy itself is being questioned in an enlightened world they argue sexually liberated men and women should just give up on marriage along with it jealousy adultery and divorce it’s a beautiful deeply romantic idea of what love could be and it eventually collapses into a disaster belgium 2015 the country achieved a notorious distinction it is the nation with the highest rate of divorce in the developed world and astonishing 71 percent of couples will split up here a newspaper in the country asks why and the answer comes back clearly initial expectations were not met other countries are not far behind in the UK the divorce rate is forty-two percent in the US fifty three percent in Hungary sixty-seven percent and in Portugal sixty-eight percent part of the reason lies in the disappointment people feel with what had apparently been promised to them by the freewheeling nineteen sixties and before that by 19th century romanticism the dream of love survives but it disappoints constantly at dinner tables around the world otherwise intelligent people complain that they simply can’t understand strange and tricky subject of love the future hope for love lies in the notion of sacrifice that is in accepting that we won’t get everything we want from love relationships or marriage we’re trying to do something highly ambitious in our modern ideals of relationships unite sex affection the raising of a family a career and adequate material security we will by necessity fail to get all of these the idea of sacrifice though helps us if we consider getting half of what we really want and need might still be quite a lot in comparison with what it would be like if we avoided relationships all together clearly solitary life can work out really well for a few people but mostly we hate living alone the question should not be so much whether relationships live up to our ideal hopes of mutual happiness but whether they are better if only a little than not having relationships at all the future of love needs us to get interested in ambivalence that is in the capacity to keep on thinking that something is quite good even while we’re painfully conscious of its many and striking day-to-day imperfections.