The Invention of Love

(a conversation with the PhD)

“I love her. But I don’t think I’m in love with her in the way you’re supposed to fall in love with people like the way it’s played out in commercials. And it may not exist. Not really. I think you an be very, very lonely for a long time if you decide what you need is love and not just love.”

“Do you think love was manufactured on Madison Avenue along with Valentines Day?”


“Well, if that’s true… then I guess you have to love the one you’re with.”

“It’s not that easy.”

“Sure it is. Just try and squash that idea of wild cinematic romance.”

“But just because the modern idea of love was created by movies and ad agencies, it doesn’t make it any less a part of out culture.”

“But it doesn’t make it real.”

“You know what else is a part of our culture? Reality television.”

“Take De Beers. Did you know that the entire concept of proposing marriage was a marketing ploy? Not just the engagement ring, but the spontaneous proposal, the whole shebang, was invented by De Beers. After that they had made the idea of a diamond engagement ring a solid part of American culture, research showed that men spent almost 50% more on a ring when they bought it alone than when they bought it with their bride. So they invented the concept of ‘popping the question.’ Before that, couples generally decided together to get married. And you can’t get around it. Can you imagine any woman, even if she knows all this, not wanting a romantic proposal with a big diamond ring? But it’s so ingrained we don’t think about it..

“Or we choose not to.”

“Hammacher Schlemmer invented the idea of putting Christmas presents under the tree because they made the ads look better. More luxury.

“I plead ignorance. You know I’m a Jew.”

“They were the ones who invented Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, too.”

“Fine. What about love? Which ad men invented love?”

“19th century German and English poets invented love. Advertisers just popularized it.”

“Oh please. That is bullshit.”

“Sure. Romantic love as a concept, in the west, was invented in the middle ages and only became really mainstream in the Renaissance.”

“What about Jesus?”

“What about Jesus? Love in the new testament is not romantic love. The word that means love is also sometimes translated as charity. Or loving-kindness. It’s not romantic. And there was certainly no real romance in the old testament. So, romantic love, again only in the west, was invented about 800 years ago. But the idea that there is one person for you, who will change your life and make everything better, the idea that love is stronger than time, or stronger than death, our western ideal of real passionate love now, was invented 220 years ago by German and English poets and playwrights.”

“But what about sex? When a woman has sex with a man she grows attached—“


“No. No, it’s not the bible. It’s real.”

“That’s as old as the old testament.”


2 responses to “The Invention of Love

  1. The reason you haven’t felt it is because it doesn’t exist. What you call love was invented “by guys like me, to sell nylons. You’re born alone and you die alone and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts. But I never forget. I’m living like there’s no tomorrow, because there isn’t one.”

    Don Draper

  2. 500 Days of Summer has a great take on this :D

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