What's there to gain from romantic relationships, aside from sexual

Read another response by Charles Taliaferro
Read another response about Love, Value
What's there to gain from romantic relationships, aside from sexual gratification? For it seems as though there is more pain and loss from attempting to find our ideal significant other, than there is actual gain from finding someone adequate enough to fulfill such an unobtainable goal. It seems more worthwhile to culminate our own happiness within ourselves, than to put our happiness at risk, especially given that females (and people in general) who are interested in philosophy seem to be on the decline; and interest in philosophy is a must for any viable partner!

Wonderful to learn that a viable partner for you would have to have an interest in philosophy. If you are super attractive (etc) you might give a lot of people an important motive to develop philosophical interests!

Picking up on another point, though, I am not sure you are right about declining interests in philosophy among females or people in general. At least where I teach (St Olaf College in the USA) philosophical interests among young women and men (straight, gay, as well as among transgender folk) seems on the rise. But more to your point, I wonder if your worry about romantic relationships would work against any serious, non-romantic friendship. You write about having reservations about putting your happiness at risk, but that risk seems to arise in every case when you or I truly love another person with or without eros. I have great (Platonic) love for a couple of friends, Patrick and Jodi, and I realize there is no way for me to do so without risking my enduring great pain and unhappiness. If they are harmed or, worse, killed in an auto accident (our city streets are a mess, so this is not impossible) I would be devastated. They are irreplaceable and it would be impossible for me to love them with emotional invulnerability on my part. I suppose that is your point: why take the risk? But isn't the reply that the alternative is far worse? Imagine living without truly loving other persons as irreplaceable individuals? I suppose, by extension, your position might also come in conflict with you loving yourself. So, I urge you to not give up on romantic or non-romantic deep friendships. Still, I would not be doing my job unless I observed that the position you are taking does have resonance in the history of philosophy, especially in Stoicism. You might find the work of Epictetus (first and second century) of great interest.

Ending on a sort of positive note: there have been (and are) some good romantic relationships between philosophers that might be inspiring --for example the marriage between Elizabeth Anscombe and Peter Geach, and Bob and Marilyn Adams, among others. Yes, there have been tragic romances between philosophers, but I bet for every case of Abelard and Heloise there are at least a hundred cases of Paul and Patricia Churchland

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