1. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    How is Romantic Love different from Friend/Family Love?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Simpson17866, Dec 3, 2014.

    I'm planning on a romantic subplot in my SciFi WIP, but I don't have any personal experience in dating, and I don't normally pay attention to how other people treat each other, so I'm not entirely sure how - besides the obvious "sex vs no sex" - romantic relationships are supposed to look different from friend/family relationships.

    So far, all I've come up with is: Volume. Romantic relationships seem "louder" in the sense that lovers feel the need to frequently remind their partners that they love each other, whereas friends/family seem to be more casual about leaving more unspoken.

    Is there anything else I should consider? I've tried Google, but everywhere I've found simply says "there is a difference between romantic love and family love" without going into a lot of depth about what the difference is, and I'm still working up the courage to ask my real-life family about their romantic relationships.
     
  2. Lancie
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    Lancie Contributing Member

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    That's a really hard question to answer. I'm not sure about the loudness aspect, I think that really depends on the relationship. There isn't a one size fits all relationship. I would think difference is the feeling, but again that depends on the relationship, how long they've been together and the couple in question- can't stress that one enough.

    First loves/infatuations/crushes (whatever you want to call it) is different to a comfortable loving relationship with someone you consider your best friend. You get all sorts, like you say you get some people who like to show it with big gestures or proclamations of love to tragic love Romeo and Juliet style, and couples who are drifting apart (or something daft like early Disney where girls of 15 fall madly in love with very little time spent with their intended!!)

    Are you a fan of poetry at all? You could try looking at some of the great romantic poets (Byron, Keats, Shelley, Shakespeare etc) to see if anything strikes you.

    Realistically, I think most couples develop quirky little traits and traditions, like an in-joke, a song, a special way of saying 'I love you'. Interaction would be different and more intimate (depending again whether or not they like to be affectionate in public or in private), the way you might look at someone or the way you might do things to protect them or make them happy. Chemistry' is often thrown around but I think there is some truth in it. Personally, I think 'true love' is just a very deep and passionate friendship.

    It's all down to the type of relationship you'd like to portray.
     
  3. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    You can't define Romance, because every story has its own perspective of it. If you're looking for Romance though I suggest watching anime since there's some pretty good romantic stories in there.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    On average, with exceptions: Sex. I am not sexually attracted to my family members. Romance involves pheromones that trigger a specific sexual attraction.

    After time, that sexual attraction levels off and people stay in love because they grow to love each other, to have a shared history.

    A shared history is a large part of most romantic relationships after they mature past the infatuation phase.
     
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  5. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    It can be stupidly intense, in that people will give up their families to go off with someone. They will kill because of it, usually jealousy. It brings out the worst and best in people. As was mentioned, it really depends on the person/s and circumstances of the relationship. There are givers and takers and those in between.
     
  6. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've seen a few articles recently that essentially state that romance is really all about sex. (Particularly for men.)
    It's hard to explain what that extra thing is between a best friend that you have a lot of love for and a romantic partner, who often is your best friend. People in real life have issues with this issue -- sometimes they have a best friend that they start having sex with, and when that happens, the question becomes why are they not marrying this person?

    There is a certain intense connection, where the other person is not far from your mind, where most decisions are made with a consideration as to how it will affect the other person, and where when something happens you want to tell that person about it. These things could all happen with a very good friend or some other family member, but ultimately, the key differentiator -- the only thing that will be different between a romantic partner and a friend/family member is sexual.
     
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  7. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just a thought:

    There's the finding oneself in the other person. Or some ideal traits. Immortalizing one's self through the glorification of some characteristics, abilities, appearances. Forms a nice character shield. And definitely sex.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Random thoughts:

    - New romantic love often has a subsantial illogical element about it. You don't know the person well at all, but you may feel more strongly about them than you feel about friends that you've known for decades. Every new thing that you learn about them is often taken to be further proof of how great they are, even if you wouldn't have cared about that at all in a non-romantic acquaintance. ("He hates lace-up shoes; isn't that ADORABLE?!")

    - There's an awareness that they don't know that much about you, either, so there's a nervous effort to present the best possible impression. The old worn-out shirt that was good enough for work last month is suddenly unthinkable, because the Loved One is there. All sorts of aspects of one's life are spiffed up because they might be witnessed by the Loved One. I remember a scene in Mad About You; I paraphrase:

    Jamie: "You bought towels?"
    Ira: "Yeah."
    Jamie: "Who is she?"

    - I don't really agree about the "louder"; I think that depends on the person.

    - But with new requited love, there is often an urge to keep in constant contact.

    - Even if you haven't dated, have you ever had a "crush" on someone? I don't necessarily mean anything romantic or sexual, just a situation where you were very much taken with a person, you had an extra awareness of them, you wanted them to be impressed with you. Non-romantic crushes could happen about that professor that you're really really impressed with, for example, or the person who's at the top of your profession and is also charming and a good teacher.

    I keep talking about "new" love, because as love goes on it becomes a melding of romantic love and friendship, and that's harder to describe.

    I'll return of I think of anything else.
     
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  9. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think there are a lot of couples that are basically just friends.
     
  10. Sethypoo98
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    Sethypoo98 New Member

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    Well, in my opinion, love is being willing to put someone else ahead of yourself. Of course, in certain contexts, it can mean other things as well (i.e. sex), but for my purpose right now I'll just use the definition of love being willing to put other people ahead of yourself. If we accept this definition, then in my opinion the biggest difference between romantic and family love is that romantic love is on a higher level than family. In other words, your spouse should take priority over your brother, and both your brother and your spouse should take priority over you. This shouldn't be taken to the extreme- don't refuse to pay attention to your brother because you love your spouse, for example. I'm just saying that, when it comes down to it, there is a marked difference in priorities. Some people flip this around- they put their family relationships ahead of their romantic ones, and that's ok too. Your priorities, in this aspect, are defined by your moral system and your character, and if your moral system dictates that family is more important than romance, then let it be that way. I realize this concept of priorities is very opinionated and somewhat vague, but in my experience it seems as if authors use it fairly often when writing about romantic vs. family relationships. The other more obvious but (in my opinion) less important difference is sexual attraction, plain and simple.
     
  11. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    There's probably as many answers as there are people in the world, but I've always thought this framework a good basic response to the question of 'What is love?' (certainly better than "Baby don't hurt, don't hurt me no more."):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangular_theory_of_love - I think the triangular diagram is pretty self-explanatory, so just scroll to that if you haven't the time to read the whole page.

    I think, as others have alluded to, that love is not a constant, unchanging feeling (particularly as relationships age). I'm not sure whether I'd argue that it's a maturation process, or whether the type of love modulates over time (as per the triangular theory).

    I'm not sure if this theory really helps you with your characterisation and portrayal of the relationship, so here are some of my own reflections (not that I'm saying everyone will experience the same), to supplement what others have already provided (which I agree with for the most part). My reflections address the earlier stages of a relationship.

    - Not being sure entirely where your feelings have sprung from (maybe you spend time alongside someone who initially flew straight under your radar, then one day you realise you've become completely enamoured - maybe you suddenly realise how smoking hot they are when you initially didn't cast them a second glance - and the more time you spend, the more the feelings grow)
    - Being unable to resist your feelings, even if you recognise that they're entirely illogical
    - Deep respect for each other
    - Finding things endearing that you'd consider as faults on anyone else
    - Contriving to spend as much time together as possible
    - Finding reminders of the other party in everything else you experience
    - Constantly trying to think of ways to brighten the other's day (thus being an assiduous student of their preferences)
    - Feeling good about yourself, because the other party brings out the best in you
    - Wondering why you ever found depictions of lute-strumming, rose-adorned balcony serenades humorous/nauseating
    - An overwhelming urge to safeguard the other party, even if otherwise to your detriment
    - A feeling of evisceration if you lose your love, perhaps going through the 'stages of grief'; hearty skepticism towards Tennyson's line about love and loss
    - Also, I think that sex isn't necessary (not that others have claimed that), but probably factors into most cases (there's probably physical attraction there even if you don't 'get stuck into it')

    Hopefully that's more useful than it is awkwardly autobiographical. Best wishes for your WIP!
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    ^ A key element in romantic love. I have had romances that began as friendship with the sexual attraction coming later, but for the most part the sexual attraction is rather quick if not instant and it's completely embedded in infatuation (way more than sex) for the person.
     
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  13. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    This isn't a Wiki entry to explain the difference, but something to try to give you a tool to write about it.

    You've known your family all your life, and you're stuck with them, warts and all - and, boy, can you ever see those!

    You've known her for a week, and for now all you can see is her perfection.

    Of course you have to tell her that you love her all the time, or how would she know? And if she doesn't know, she'll go off with that other good-looking guy.

    You know nothing about her, so you've got to put an effort in to find out...and if you find out that she goes fox-hunting and you're an active anti-blood sports campaigner...(a variation on the two houses at war theme of Romeo and Juliet)...so you have to be careful not to be too outspoken, unless her fox-hunting would be a deal-breaking imperfection that would put you off - and (being still young) do you know yourself well enough to know that? Of course, your character may be brash, and will just barrel into saying how much he hates blood sports only to see the look of shock on her face - or perhaps, she can just see your perfection (if only you knew!) and hides it.
     
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  14. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I want to emphasize this part of this post, and clarify that the earlier posts did not claim that sex itself was *necessary.* But that underlying biological sexual drive is what's at the heart of this sort of romantic feeling. That's not to say that the person is necessarily even conscious of that sexual drive, but it's there. Usually the actual thought of sex with that person does enter the consciousness of the people involved (if mutual), but even if that thought is repressed or is never acted upon, it's still there.

    To the OP -- I know that several members of this forum have shared that they are asexual. I don't recall whether you were among them. But I can see how this sort of topic would be very difficult for someone who is asexual to write about.
     
  15. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I would say most modern romantic relationships have a sexual element behind them. Sex might not be an important element in a particular romantic relationship (which might be called a crush), but the participants are unlikely to be seeking sex elsewhere at the same time.

    I think with your romantic 'other' you do want to present yourself in the best light you can. If you are careless with the way this other person is likely to see you—your appearance and behaviour—you probably aren't in love with them. People often say 'my friends take me just as I am.' You won't mind if a friend turns up at your house and finds you in an old tatty bathrobe and your hair not combed. You probably will care—a lot—if this is somebody you're romantically involved with, or inclined toward instead. Of course once a romantic relationship is established this notion of perfection, physical and otherwise, may well become less important, but I still maintain you want your romantic partner to be attracted to you, and proud of you, not just tolerate you.

    I also think the notion of 'coupleness' is important. This other person is not only somebody you want to spend the rest of your life living with, but you aren't keen on anybody intruding into this mutual, but exclusive relationship. Some friendships can become possessive and exclusive as well, but this is seen as abnormal. Same with family relationships. You are expected to grow out of these kinds of clingy, needy associations to the extent that other people are allowed 'in' as well. However, in a romantic relationship, any 'other' who truly intrudes usually signals a breakup. Most people who are in romantic love would be devastated if somebody else got included in that relationship on an equal basis.

    Someone you are romantically attracted to usually dominates your attention. Certainly when they are around, and even when they're not. While you don't forget the other people in your lives, you do tend to put your lover first. Not just as a matter of principle, but it's what you instinctively do. Obviously children alter this dynamic, but if you are in love with your partner, they really do become your world in many ways.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2014
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  16. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks everybody! Apparently, it's easy for even "normal" writers to squick out their audience by accidentally portraying romantic relationships as familial and vice-versa, and as an asexual-aromantic - to answer your question @chicagoliz, yes - I've been worried about having even less context with which to avoid a mistake like that.
     
  17. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    It is pretty simply.

    Romantic love is ridiculously more selfish.
     
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