The Evolution of Love: The Meaning of Romantic Love in Contemporary Society

In its close association with a highly idealized ideology, it can be easy to overlook romantic love as a serious and exceptionally influential social institution. Despite popular conceptualizations of romantic love which tend to confine it to the domain of emotion, individualized experience, and even to a certain degree the realm of mysticism, romantic love as a social institution plays a deeply involved role in the structuring and organization of society as a whole. This thesis examined how ideology and practices surrounding romantic love and partnership differ across gender, race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic class. In order to carry out this investigation, a survey was administered to 173 participants between the ages of 18 to 84. Of these participants, approximately 62% were female, 36% were male, and 3% identified as Other. The majority of respondents were White, followed by Latino/Hispanic and Asian/Asian American. While initial analyses indicate that both men and women tend to view their own attitudes towards romantic love as slightly idealistic, further investigation is being conducted into the specifics of differential romantic attitudes and the intricacies of how these attitudes differ at the intersection of gender, race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic class.