LOVE: an intense reciprocated desire that has a balanced cost structure for supply and demand

Love is a captivating emotional awareness... of some particular aspect of experience... which is ascribed a value of significance at least equivalent to the value ascribed to one's self. Individual humans have a very flexible capacity to imagine they are in love with just about anything; other individuals, themselves, sex, money, animals, art, power, war, dead messiahs, hypothetical gods, ancestors, and so on. They can even become enamoured with various recreational activities, and have often been discovered in state of quasi-ecstacy whilst climbing vertical rock faces, exploring flooded underground caves, jumping from aeroplanes or weeding a row of particularly healthy carrots. Whatever the nature or focus of the infatuation happens to be, it is primarily characterised by an unreasonable desire for unrestricted quantities of it , and a deep fear and apprehension as to the consequences of deprivation.

It may be a unique and desirable experience to participate in a romantic and consuming love relationship, but such a condition cannot avoid the realities of pragmatism with respect to reciprocal benefits if it is to survive. The measure of love is usually quantified by the significance of the sacrifice the supposed lover is prepared to undergo. In any situation where the individual values their love interest above their own well-being... and acts accordingly... an external and 'objective' evaluation tends to record a credit on the score-card. In any situation where the individual values their own welfare and interests above that of a supposed love interest, the score-card gets an evaluation of zero or less. In reality of course, because of the complexity of most relationships, making a decision about specific credits or demerits is a rather unappealing and unromantic procedure. Nevertheless, any relationship which is not reasonably equitable in terms of these checks and balances will be placed under stresses more or less proportional to the imbalance. A price asked by one side of a relationship is a cost to the other and the balance of trade needs to be mutually acceptable for sustainability. Sustainability in love is just a matter of the cost structure in the exchange of goods and services.

Whilst the analogy of trade is somewhat less romantic than the customary perspective... and may not be seen at first consideration as being entirely appropriate... it must be remembered that what is being exchanged here are emotional love-evaluations and such things have no more chance of mutual success than commercial transactions that are one-sided. Sexual love reciprocations, where the deal is an equitable exchange of genes along with a mutual provision of pleasure bonuses, need have only a minimal initial concern with monetary matters. However, they will become part of the equation somewhere sooner or later and will need to be balanced out with all the numerous other gives and takes. Some relationships become so comfortable in their mutual-reciprocal benefits, that costs and prices become forgotten and much can become taken for granted. There is usually a bit of a shake-up when one party initiates a revised cost structure schedule.

Love which is reciprocated between individuals is in fact the valence of cultural cohesion and of individual functional integration. The 'True Love' however, expostulated about by certain hormone-imbued individuals of poetic aspirations, usually lasts up to and including the process of ejaculation or orgasm or both... provided the delivery apparatus has been accommodated to the satisfaction of the expostulater. It is somewhat of a relief that life has the capacity and potential to be more complex and interesting than the primordial compulsion for coitus, even though the only functional purpose of an individual is to be the physical means of locating genetic material at a propitious site.