Author Replies

Replies to Fileva, Jollimore, Carroll, and Mun

Aaron Ben-Ze’ev

University of Haifa, Israel

Ben-Ze'ev, Aaron. 2020. "Author Replies: Replies to Mun, Fileva, Jollimore, and Carroll." Journal of Philosophy of Emotion 2, no. 1: 2020.7-12.

Abstract: In my reply to the reviewers of my book, The Arc of Love: How Our Romantic Lives Change Over Time, I address major issues discussed by them. To the claim that I do not provide a precise definition of romantic love, I argue that I am not in the business of defining, but have instead chosen the more modest task of describing and explaining romantic love. Hence, I work with prototypical categories rather than binary ones. I clarify central conceptual tools underlying my view, e.g., the distinctions between romantic intensity and romantic profundity, and between external change and intrinsic development. In light of the complexity of romantic experiences and behaviors, it is clear that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for determining optimal romantic behavior. Different people and various circumstances call for different decisions to make that happen. If there is any recipe at all, it would start with an optimal balance.

Keywords: love, profundity, polyamory, time, development, sex, and balance

I wish to thank the commentators for their insightful remarks and the effort they invested in reading and commenting on my book. I highly appreciate the quality of their comments, and I agree with many of their claims. Naturally, I focus here on our disagreements.


Mun, Fileva, and Jollimore wish I would clearly define concepts such as romantic love and profundity. However, I am not in the business of defining, but rather in the more modest task of describing and explaining. I do not work with binary categories, which provide clear criteria constituting sufficient and necessary conditions for membership in the category. I rather use prototypical categories, where membership is determined by an item's

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degree of similarity to the best example in the category: the greater the similarity, the higher the degree of membership. The prototypical category has neither clear-cut boundaries nor equal degrees of membership.

Critics may argue that it is hard to refute a view with such a fluid nature. This charge is not baseless, but it is better to have less clear-cut explanations whose results are more adequate than to have clear and simple explanations which are wrong. As H. L. Mencken said, for every complex problem, there is an answer that is "neat, plausible, and wrong" (1921, 158). For better or for worse, reality is not as neatly divided as binary categories are."

I believe that emotions in general, and romantic love in particular, constitute prototypical categories. Accordingly, I do not define romantic love or romantic profundity, but rather provide a comprehensive characterization of what romantic love and profundity are all about. Thus, I describe and explain various features of romantic love, such as attraction, praiseworthiness, friendship, intensity, profundity, intrinsic activities, development, external change, resonance, consistency, timing, the need to belong, compromises, sacrifices, and many more aspects. The subtle relations and balance among these aspects create the typical experience of romantic love.


I agree with much of Mun's description of my view. I will refer to a few general issues in Mun thought-provoking comments: acute, extended, and enduring love, the caring and dialogue models of love, and the ontological status of love.

Acute, extended, and enduring love. Emotional experiences are typically complex, involving various components, such as cognition, evaluation, motivation and feeling. The nature and extent of these components determine whether an emotion emerges and what kind of emotion it is. In this view, feelings should not be identified with evaluation. Emotional experiences, as well as romantic love, are highly complex and often consist of more than one emotion. There is no need to speak here about meta-emotions, since complexity and diversity are part and parcel of typical emotional experiences.

Acute emotions are brief, almost instantaneous experiences. Extended emotions involve successive repetitions of experiences that are felt to belong to the same emotion. Enduring emotions can persist for many years. This distinction is essentially, but not merely, temporal. Acute romantic love consists of brief, intense experiences of romantic desire, mainly sexual ones. When these experiences extend over a relatively longer period, say the whole night, they constitute an extended romantic love. In addition to these experiences, enduring romantic love consists of many other features referring to actual and dispositional attitudes, and deeds toward and with the beloved.

What does unify the emotion of enduring romantic love? In addressing this question, one should not focus on one feature, but rather on various features relating to our personality and circumstances. Thus, I disagree with Mun's claim that the unifying factor is the feeling of belonging to the same emotion. This is indeed a typical subjective characteristic of extended emotions involving constant repetitions. Enduring emotions, like long-term love, are more complex, and such a feeling is of little relevance; in any case, it cannot be the unifying factor of enduring romantic love.

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I enthusiastically agree with Mun's suggestion that enduring emotions may be understood as being "always under construction or as always being discovered by a lover." (Mun 2020, 4). There is in enduring profound love both a process of developing, which enhances the lovers' suitability and personal flourishing, and a process of discovering or unfolding, which involves bringing out the best in each other.

The feeling component. I agree with Mun that one may consider feelings as having a primitive-level intentionality. Since I tend to steer clear of absolute borderlines, the issue is of lesser significance to my view. However, I would certainly not identify feelings with evaluation.

The care and dialogue models of romantic love. Mun's description of my view of the caring and dialogue approaches is adequate, indicating their importance in understanding romantic love. I do indeed believe that mutual and joint interactions between lovers are essential for enduring love. Enduring love requires the personal flourishing of each lover and the lovers' togetherness, often in the sense of bringing out the best in each other—and thereby bringing them closer to their ideal self. As Mun rightly notes, I believe that both models are important for enduring love and that their relative weights will vary in accordance with personality, age, and circumstances.

The ontological status of love. After describing the two models, I briefly mention in the book the ontological issue of love's location. There, I suggest that while I accept the central tenet of the dialogue approach that mutual shared interactions are essential for enduring profound love, I reject its ontological assumption that love resides in these shared interactions, which are located between the lovers. The rival view, which is compatible with the care model and which assumes that love is a property of the lover, seems to be intuitively true, as love is similar in this regard to other personal attitudes. We attribute to the lover not merely emotions, but other attitudes, such as moods, character traits, and political attitudes. Thus, it is implausible to argue that the love for a child, or the love for a country, is located somewhere between the agent and the child or the country.

Unlike Mun, who thinks that the ontological issue is central to my discussion on enduring profound love, I believe that this issue is hardly relevant for my view of romantic love. The rejection of the ontological assumption does not entail discarding the main tenet of the dialogue approach concerning the vital role of joint and mutual interactions in maintaining enduring profound love. Moreover, I do not think that the ontological assumption is essential for the dialogue approach, which is mainly concerned with the behavioral and epistemological levels, and not with the ontological one. My reason for rejecting the ontological assumption is that it involves a category mistake and it does not make sense (commonsense or otherwise). I believe that the dialogical approach is much stronger without this assumption.


Fileva describes my view in a quite challenging manner. In this book, I indeed do not offer a theory of love, but rather focus on the nature and feasibility of enduring profound love. I briefly mention various theories of love, but I neither discuss them in depth nor suggest ways to improve them. For example, while I believe that the dialogue approach captures some essential features of enduring, romantic love, I leave aside its detailed analysis.

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Characterizing Love

As indicated above, I do not provide a strict definition of romantic love, but rather characterize it by detailed conceptual discussions as well as empirical findings. Hence, Fileva's claim that I say "little about what makes love specifically romantic" is wrong. I say a lot about what romantic love is throughout the book, but I do not look for the necessary and sufficient conditions that would define the essence of such love.

I reject the extreme claims made by romantic ideology such as "You're the nearest thing to heaven." Yet I believe, as various psychological studies show, that a moderate degree of positive illusions may be beneficial for romantic relations. And, in any case, saying this to your beloved is not a sin; it might even make both of you happier.

In my view, falling in love, unrequited love, and love at first sight are kinds of love, though they may not be a typical profound love that involves temporal processes, such as knowing each other better, mutual development, and engaging in joint activities. In light of the complex and diverse nature of romantic love, I believe it is futile to try to explain it by using arbitrary binary categories that have clear-cut boundaries or equal degrees of membership. I am very clear throughout the book about this issue.

As I do not engage with binary categories, I have no problem admitting that romantic love can exist without having sex, while having friendship and some type of attraction. Although sexual desire is typical of romantic love, it is not a necessary condition. In any case, what is more basic than sexual desire is the general attraction to be with each other (though not necessarily 24/7). I agree with Fileva that a relationship can include dialogue, caring, and sexual intimacy, but still not be romantic love. What is missing is often greater degrees of depth and intensity of these elements with the underlying wish to be with each other for some significant amount of time. When a woman is having sex with someone, but cannot bear the thought of staying at his place for the night, this may indicate a lack of profound romantic love. The role of time, which is expressed in the wish to be together, is even more significant in enduring love than sexual desire. The first wish, but not the second one, can hardly be replaced.

The Romantic "We"

I limit my discussion of the "we" in this book to the psychological aspect of belonging as being a constitutive part of a greater whole, which typically involves joint and shared activities and experiences. Two problematic extensions to this view are the fusion model, in which the two lovers are merged together into one entity, and the claim that love is located between the two lovers. I reject these extensions, as do some other advocates of the dialogue approach. The dialogue approach is obviously different from the fusion model, as Krebs (2015) clearly argues. The issue of autonomy, which is so central to the dialogue approach, is absent in the fusion model. Krebs further claims that emotional fusion is involuntary and not intentionally directed towards the feelings of others, as is the case in the dialogue approach (2014, 2015).

Fileva claims that people in love "no longer think of themselves as fully independent and separate" (Fileva 2020, 3). To a certain extent I agree with this claim, and discuss it while examining the two senses of belonging: possession and being a natural part. Belonging in its literal sense of possession is inappropriate in any relationship, as it implies ownership and control. However, in the sense of being a natural part, it makes sense, as it enhances

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a unique romantic bond. This belongingness is felt strongly when the connection is disconnected, sometimes to the extent of an actual feeling of an amputated arm. As long as we want to maintain the romantic connection, we indeed become, in a certain sense, less independent and separate. Belonging increases the similarity between the two individuals but this is quite different from creating we-entity and even we-identity.

Fileva agrees with the importance I attach to the "we" in romantic love, but indicates that I should further develop it to include Buber's notion of "I and Thou," which is crucial to romantic love. Fileva's ideas in this regard are quite interesting, and I accept some of them, but they go beyond the scope of my book. Nevertheless, I am not sure that I agree with the claims that the "'I and Thou' phase never ends," (Fileva 2020, 4) and that unlike romantic love, parental love does not involve a profound "we" perspective (Fileva 2020, 3).

Love as a Capacity

Fileva discusses my claim that love "is not like butter: it doesn't get thinner the more widely we spread it" (Ben-Ze'ev 2019, 210). I claim indeed that love is not an entity with a fixed energy but a capacity that, when properly used, generates increasingly positive energy—in the sense of "using it or losing it." Hence, there is no point asking people (as various love songs do) to save their love for the asking person while not using it. Yet there is also a sense in which love is like butter. Love requires much investment of time, effort, financial resources, and emotional availability. All of these are limited and some, such as time, are also fixed in quantity.

In this sense, you cannot spread love too thin and expect to gain romantic profundity. Thus a polyamorous woman once said that she wishes to have five romantic partners, but she knows that she does not have time for five lovers—and anyway, her husband would not allow it. Parental love, too, is limited, though less so than romantic love. The limitations in both cases stem from the fact that love requires resources, and especially time, which are limited, and if you invest them all in one person, you will have less time for others.

Fileva further asks whether the "we" two people share can survive the addition of a third person. I have discussed the nature of polyamory, claiming that it may be suitable in some circumstances, but not in many others. "We" can be in groups greater than two, and, indeed, polyamorist groups constitute such a group, in which members are connected and dependent on each other. However, one aspect of romantic profundity is the length of the relation; I have argued that the length of polyamorous relations is shorter than that of monogamous relations.


My view is close in various respects to Jollimore's view on love, which I often recommend to my graduate students. I focus here on the nature of romantic profundity, which is at the heart of Jollimore's comments. The fact that Jollimore does not fully understand my notion of "romantic profundity" indicates that I should further clarify it.

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The Nature of Profundity

When the Bee Gees (1977) sing about love, they do not say, "I want to know what deep love is," but rather, "I want to know how deep is your love." Like commonsense, the Bee Gees generally know what deep love is, they just want to know how deep is your specific love. In light of the prototypical nature of romantic profundity, it is indeed easier to identify typical cases of profundity than to provide a simple definition of it.

Profound love, either when alluding to the lover's attitude or to the relationship, refers to aspects that are basic in the sense that they have a great weight in the constitution of an attitude (or relation). Romantic profundity is a complex construct that is typically expressed in various related traits; for example, trust, comprehensiveness (referring to more features of the beloved), complexity (in the sense of diversity, emotional ambivalence, and more complex behavior), commitment, greater intrinsic and nurturing activities, significant meaningfulness, having far-reaching effects, and longevity. None of these traits are a necessary or sufficient condition for romantic profundity—though they are typically a part of profound love.

This complexity can explain Jollimore’s following query: "if having diverse experiences contributes to profundity, then it is not clear why one should limit oneself to one lover" (Jollimore 2020, 5). The answer is that although the various components of romantic profundity are often correlated, they are not identical, and profundity can be lacking in one or more of them. Thus, compared to monogamy, polyamory has greater diversity, a briefer longevity, and a lower level of commitment. Jollimore rightly notes that "profundity combines and balances change and stasis"; however, it also combines many other components.

It should be noted that coming closer to one's ideal self may increase the gap between the two. However, this gap has always existed between them, even if they were not aware of it. It is easier to cope with these differences when we are aware of them.

Different people and various circumstances call for different decisions to make that happen. If there is any recipe at all, it would start with an optimal balance. Hence, Jollimore is correct in claiming that "this leaves open a great many questions about what a balanced diet would consist in" (Jollimore 2020, 6). Thus, most people find monogamy, or serial monogamy, most suitable for them; others find this to be the case with polyamory, and there are other types of relationships.

The question of "how to make love stay" remains crucial, since doing so is a considerable achievement. However, this does not mean that in some circumstances romantic profundity is not the only—and perhaps not even the optimal—way to go.

Profundity and Length of Relation

Jollimore doubts the assumed connection between romantic profundity and the length of a romantic relation. I emphasize in the book that romantic profundity is much more than simply spending time together and, therefore, time is not sufficient for generating profundity. People can be together for many years and yet not achieve profound love. Thus, I claim that loving longer is not necessarily loving more. Moreover, I discuss the difference between profundity and robustness. Robustness is sometimes defined as "sustainable" (in the sense of being

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capable of continuing for a long time at the same level). Longevity is more associated with robustness than with profundity.

A further issue is whether time is a necessary condition for romantic profundity. Jollimore argues that "the connection between profundity and time seems to be contingent rather than necessary." The connection between profundity and time is necessary almost by definition, though the length of time is contingent. Nevertheless, profound love typically requires some lengthy period. However, since we can speak about various degrees of profundity, some kind of profundity can be achieved in a relatively brief period.

Romantic profundity, which involves knowledge of the beloved's basic concerns and traits, typically requires time, but the temporal dimension can differ. In some cases, romantic profundity can be achieved in a relatively short span of time, such as months; for other relations, the time span may be longer. In all romantic relationships, time can enhance profundity. In this regard, we can distinguish between momentary and temporary experiences. The former are very brief encounters (to use Jollimore's adequate terminology), while the latter can be of different durations. Love at first sight is a genuine love, but we would not say to someone after ten minutes of knowing her that we are profoundly in love with her. We can say that we loved her at first sight, or better, at our first meeting, and we believe that over time our love will deepen. Although longevity is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition for profound love, the two are typically associated. This is so because romantic profundity typically enhances the flourishing of both lovers, thereby reducing the incentive to be separate.

The fact that profundity is typically associated with both longer duration and far-reaching effects does not mean that short duration cannot have far-reaching effects.

Significant romantic changes can occur swiftly, as in the case of love at first sight. In the movie The Hours (2002), for example, the character of Virginia Woolf says, "A woman's whole life in a single day. Just one day. And in that day her whole life." There are indeed circumstances—such as the day that two lovers first meet—in which one day makes the whole difference.

Profundity, Impact, and Value

Jollimore rightly indicates the presence of both quantitative and qualitative aspects of romantic profundity and wonders how they can coexist, since they "are deeply different" (Jollimore 2020, 4). It is hard for me to understand how such a complex, human experience as romantic love can be understood without these complementary (rather than competitive) aspects. In my book, I describe a brain study confirming the claims of seventeen people, who have been married for an average of twenty-one years and reported being intensely in love with their spouses. Their brain scans revealed a significant activation in key reward centers of the brain—much like the pattern found in people experiencing fresh love, but vastly different from those in companionate relationships (Acevedo et al. 2012). In this study, quantitative aspects of brain activities are correlated and thereby confirm a qualitative claim of experiencing fresh love after twenty years of marriage. The qualitative (subjective) experiences of intense and profound love are not floating freely in the air; they take place within a biological framework having quantitative (objective) aspects that can be measured. Such connections provide us with robust knowledge of romantic experiences. This does not imply, needless to say, that knowing one level of

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discussion, e.g., scans of the brain, can solve all the problems of understanding romantic love, but the correlation indicates the importance of combining these two aspects in a complementary manner (Navot et. al 2014).

The Michelangelo Effect illustrates this duality. Bringing out the best in each other while pushing each lover closer to her/his ideal self involves both qualitative (subjective) and quantitative (objective) aspects. Moreover, the connection is not a simple linear connection. Romantic profundity can consist of different combinations of various qualitative and quantitative components. It should be noted that coming closer to one's ideal self may increase the gap between the two, however, this gap formed the basis of the interactions between them. In case of such conflicts, it is better to live with them though the differences may be obvious to each partner.

I believe that personal thriving, which I consider to be crucial for romantic profundity, has both qualitative and quantitative aspects. Romantic love, as an attitude, has strong qualitative elements, such as feelings and personal experience. However, enduring profound love should be more sensitive to quantitative aspects. Profound romantic love does not consist merely of subjective feelings of attraction. Love involves, among other things, knowing each other, joint activities, actualizing the lovers' personal capabilities, and flourishing. Achieving all those require taking into account, over the course of time, objective features in our environment.

Jollimore agrees that knowledge, which takes time to acquire, is required for profound love and, hence, time is constitutive of romantic profundity. However, I do not view such knowledge as necessary for romantic profundity. Knowledge is important for enduring love, but sometimes partial knowledge and positive illusions are valuable as well. There are different types and degrees of knowledge—not all of them are conducive to romantic profundity. A detailed knowledge of a lover's past sexual interactions, for example, may harm the current partner. In this sense, I agree with Jollimore that profound knowledge tends to increase romantic profundity but does not always do so.

Love and Dementia

Jollimore raises some doubts concerning my claim that in some cases we can see a kind of continuation of the love of a healthy spouse for a spouse suffering from Alzheimer Disease (AD). It should be mentioned that my discussion in the book mainly concerns the love of the healthy partner, and not of the sick one.

In a study based upon extended interviews with spouse care-givers, Orit Shavit, Aaron Ben-Ze'ev, and Israel Doron (2019), describe four major trajectories of love after the emergence of AD: love has died, love has weakened, love has not changed, and love is enhanced. Consider the following claims of healthy spouses indicating the enhancement of their love for their sick spouse:

Husband: When I speak of my love for Sarah, I think it has grown much stronger with the disease . . . I can say humbly that prior to the onset of AD I did not pay any attention to what Sarah was doing or not doing (505).

Wife: I love him so much. I can kiss him like that, with all his drool falling from his mouth. Do you understand that? That's my love . . . I love him even more because I am always with him now. I don't have other things on my mind. Nothing but him . . . Love is more powerful now. More powerful. I can't

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explain it. I no longer find any interest in the people around me—my kids come or don't come; that's ok, I don't care anymore (506).

Husband: Love that comes from both of us is what I call "falling in love again." I mean, falling in love again, in all its meanings, as a result of AD (507).

I agree that the post-dementia love has a stronger element of caring and commitment; indeed, the spouse is often regarded as a "caregiver," and not a lover. In this sense, the relationship moves closer to companionate love. However, the above citations show that people claim that their romantic love to the sick partner has been increased. The caring attitude can remain loving because it refers to the whole person and not merely to personal traits. In many cases of AD, love does not endure, and in those that endure, the aspect of caring is greater than that of dialogue, which hardly exists. This love can be considered as having some kind of romantic profundity, though it differs quite markedly from the typical one. Sometimes the caring efforts are so immense that the caregiver stops considering themselves as a lover, and begins to perceive themselves as a caring parent.

In this regard, one may find it odd that the above situations of love in AD could manifest profundity while at the same time denying that of a brief one-night-stand relation. The difference between the two situations is the presence in the first case of a rich, meaningful past, which expresses the constitutive role of time in romantic profundity, and its absence in the second case. The love of a healthy spouse has some aspects of romantic profundity stemming from a meaningful shared past, but this love lacks reciprocity, which is dominant in profound, romantic relations. However, one-sided love is still love—albeit an atypical one.

What Do We Really Want?

One possible criticism against my view might be that I assume that what we really want is a profound romantic relationship that lasts forever. My view, however, is much weaker, namely, that profound love features advantages that one cannot find in brief, superficial, romantic relations. I acknowledge the presence of many cases in which people will not aim at enduring profound love, and for whom such love may be of less value than other types of romantic relations, like serial monogamy, or consensual, non-monogamous relations. Moreover, I emphasize throughout the book the importance of complexity, diversity, and flexibility in romantic relations.

An important distinction that I make in this regard is that between external change and intrinsic development. The external change underlying intense love is a one-time, simple event expressed in an acute emotion, or, at most, in an extended one; such a change has a brief impact, since one quickly adapts to it. Development is a specific type of change that involves a process of improving by expanding or refining. In its full sense, development involves becoming deeper and better.

Romantic profundity does not necessarily oppose external changes. Since romantic profundity involves intrinsic development, such profundity is not identical to stability, as it may involve a vital sort of change. The balanced diet I am recommending is not contrary to lifelong romantic commitment; rather, it makes such commitments stronger by bestowing upon them some flexibility that prevents them from breaking. My view indeed suggests a continuum of romantic behaviors that may suit most people.

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Carroll clearly identifies the major themes of the book, such as focusing on long-term, enduring romantic love, while arguing that such love is possible; presenting a position to answer the question of why it is reasonable for those in an enduring romantic love relationship to stay with their partner despite great romantic abundance; the uncertain prospect of a new relationship—even a relationship with someone smarter, funnier, sexier than one's present beloved—pales in the face of the shared history of a genuinely enduring, long-term relationship; enduring love is a process involving an identity construction.

Carroll raises the interesting charge that I may be guilty of presentism, i.e., of generalizing contemporary viewpoints of romantic love to past historical periods. This is especially valid when I praise the role of intrinsic activities in profound loving relationships. In response, I would like to mention that, like Aristotle, I consider intrinsic activities to be central to our happiness and flourishing. I agree, however, with Carroll that in the past it was harder to make intrinsic activities central to romantic relations. Thriving often requires resources, which are not available to everyone. Because of such material hardship, love was not a necessary condition for getting married until about two hundred years ago. This does not mean, of course, that marriages previous to our time were loveless; it just means that love was not a requirement for marriage. Eli Finkel (2017) claims that it was only in the 1960s that self-fulfillment came to be perceived as a criterion for marriage in the US. Self-fulfillment activities, which are typically intrinsic activities, often require resources, at least time-related ones.

Carroll refers to my claim that intrinsic activities are essential to profound love and argues that the high quality of enduring loving relations can also be achieved in relationships based on activities (religious and otherwise) that are essentially instrumentally valuable. I agree. Although present circumstances make it easier to achieve high-quality enduring romantic love, involving also self-fulfillment and intrinsic activities, there is no reason to think that such loving relations could not have existed in the past—with or without intrinsic activities. Increasing joint, intrinsic activities may indeed enhance the quality and survival value of the relationship, but these activities are not a necessary condition for such love.

Furthermore, Carroll claims that, in ancient times, couples were more dependent on each other, and that this might have enhanced the romantic bond. Although I do not deny such a possibility, commitment is influenced by many factors. Commitment theory has identified three main elements underlying romantic commitment, thereby determining the length of the relation: satisfaction level, the cost of separation, and the availability of an alternative. Commitment is strengthened by the extent of satisfaction and the cost, and is weakened by more available alternatives. Satisfaction level is significantly more predictive of commitment than is the quality of alternatives or the cost of separation. It seems that, in the past, the high cost of divorce, stemming mainly from religious prohibitions, was of greater weight for staying together. Additionally, issues of convenience, rather than love, could serve to lengthen the marital bond.

Carroll is also right in pointing out the absence of detailed discussions on divorces and infidelity in my book. He correctly attributes this to my greater interest in the complicated process of development and building than in deterioration and destroying; it is indeed much easier to destroy than to build. Another reason for this absence is that many authors (including myself) have focused their discussions on infidelity and separation. Nevertheless, I agree with Carroll that I should have included in the book a more detailed discussion on these issues, which are indeed a significant blow to one's identity.

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Carroll properly says that my account of long-term, enduring romantic love is not merely descriptive but normative as well, as it valorizes enduring romantic love. Although I agree that my view is normative, it is not rigidly normative in the sense of prescribing rigid normative solutions. I argue that giving up the unique advantages associated with profound love is usually problematic. Thus, as Carroll indicates, I only criticize certain contemporary, sexual practices when they place too much weight on brief intensity.

I agree with Carroll that there is no "pronounced zero-sum competition between enduring romantic love and all of the various forms of contemporary sex that diverge from enduring romantic love" (Carroll 2020, 4). As indicated above, I rarely work with binary, zero-sum categories. Being sensitive to personalities and circumstances usually means assuming some kind of continuity. Although I emphasize the importance of enduring, profound love, such love is certainly not the only way to flourish in love and life. I foreground the value of profound love not because there are no suitable alternatives, but because this is the hardest road to take, and the one whose value is under attack these days. Some of the opposition to this view stems, as Carroll rightly suggests, from the mistaken identification of my view with the prevailing romantic ideology, which postulates the existence of only one "Mr. or Mrs. Right." I devoted a whole book, In the Name of Love: Romantic Ideology and its Victims, critiquing this ideology.


Acevedo, B.P., Aron, A., Fisher, H., and Brown, L. L. 2012. Neural correlates of long-term intense romantic love. Social Cognition and Affective Neuroscience, 7, 145-159.

Bee Gees. 1977. "How Deep is Your Love." Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack. By Barry Gibb, Maurice Ernest Gibb, and Robin Hugh Gibb. Santa Monica, CA: Universal Music Publishing Group/BMG Rights Management.

Ben-Ze'ev, Aaron, and Ruhama Goussinsky 2008. In the Name of Love. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Carroll, Nöel. 2020. "On Aaron Ben-Ze'ev, The Arc of Love." Journal of Philosophy of Emotion 2, no. 1: 2020.5-4. Originally published in a slightly different form (without abstract) as a book review on May 18, 2020, The European Legacy, DOI: 10.1080/10848770.2020.1769284.

Fileva, Iskra. 2020. "Beyond 'I and Thou': Intimacy's Pronouns." Journal of Philosophy of Emotion 2, no. 1: 2020.3-6.

Finkel, E. J. 2017. The All-or-Nothing Marriage. New York, NY: Penguin.

Jollimore, Troy. 2020. "On Aaron Ben-Ze'ev, The Arc of Love." Journal of Philosophy of Emotion 2, no. 1: 2020.4-7.

Mencken, H. L. 1921. Prejudices, Second Series. London: Jonathan Cape.

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Mun, Cecilea. 2020. "The Ontology of Long-Term Profound Love." Journal of Philosophy of Emotion 2, no. 1: 2020.6-10. Originally published in a slightly different form on February 11, 2020, under the title, "Aaron Ben-Ze'ev: The Arc of Love," in Phenomenological Review.

Navot, N., Ben-Ze'ev, A., and Okon-Singer, H. 2014. "The modern search for the Holy Grail: Is neuroscience a solution?" Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 2014, 388, 1-6.

Shavit, Orit., Ben-Ze'ev, Aaron., and Doron, Israel. 2019. "Love between Couples Living with Alzheimer's Disease: Narratives of Spouse Care-Givers." Ageing and Society 39: 488-517.

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