I suppose I think of healthy 'romantic love' as a combination of profound affection, deep caring for the well-being of the parties involved, and the presence and desire for intimacies of various kinds (emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual...). It also importantly involves trust.
(There are unhealthy kinds of 'romantic love', as well. But I don't want to focus on these pathological occurrences here.)
As a middle aged guy, I'd say that most people who are on a growthful path in life will have an ever evolving experience and understanding of such love, and -- ideally -- will become less and less possessive, fearful (e.g., of hurt / loss), and anxious about such love. And, ideally, we will become less and less self-centered in how we understand and express / live our love.
Mature love of this kind, I think, is a natural and spontaneous sharing of care of two kinds, simultaneously: self-care and other-care--, and the sharing of mutually enjoyable and enriching experience/s becomes a crucial focus. True lovers, I think, endeavor to help one another to flourish.
Lovers of this kind are in most respects exactly like very good friends. And self love/care is the foundation upon which such friendship is built.
Many so-called "experts" on romantic love describe it as a sort of syndrome which, as they define it, must have the characteristics of obsession, single-partner focus, jealous attachment, anxiety, obsessing on fear of loss, and so forth. But I think what they are describing is not quite so entirely biologically driven nor definitively characteristic of "romantic love" (in all of its possible forms) as their "data" suggest. What they are mapping, here, is a statistical trend, not human potential and human nature. In other words, love evolves. It evolves in individuals and in societies. People can outgrow fearful, possessive, "neurotic," obsessive ... loverly love. And we do, but not yet enough people to show up as statistically important to the so-called "experts"--who seem to ignore the statistically smaller populations.
Last edited by River; 08-09-2011 at 11:40 PM.