A Brief History of Romantic Love and Why It Kind of Sucks

First Fact: At some point during evolution between plankton and Bon Jovi, apes evolved the ability to become emotionally attached to one another. This emotional attachment would eventually come to be known as “love” and evolution would one day produce a bevy of singers from New Jersey who would make millions writing cheesy songs about it.

Second Fact: Humans evolved the ability to become attached to each other—that is, the ability to love each other—because it helped us survive. This isn’t exactly romantic or sexy, but it’s true.

And attachment is as important to survival today as it ever was. See: Green, M., & Scholes, M. (Eds.). (2004). Attachment and human survival (pp. xi, 164). Karnac Books.

We didn’t evolve big fangs or huge claws or insane gorilla strength. Instead, we evolved the ability to emotionally bond into communities and families where we became largely inclined to cooperate with one another. These communities and families turned out to be far more effective than any claw or any fang. Humanity soon dominated the planet.

For a review of the evolution of human cooperation, see: Henrich, J., & Muthukrishna, M. (2021). The Origins and Psychology of Human Cooperation. …