Is love a good idea?

I’ve searched around on LW for this ques­tion, and haven’t seen it brought up. Which sur­prises me, be­cause I think it’s an im­por­tant ques­tion.

I’m hon­estly not sure what I think. One one hand, love clearly leads to an el­e­ment of hap­piness when done prop­erly. This seems to be in­escapable, prob­a­bly be­cause it’s en­coded in our DNA or some­thing. But on the other hand, there’s two things that re­ally make me ques­tion whether or not love is a good idea.

1) I have a very re­duc­tion­ist view­point, on ev­ery­thing. So I always ask my­self, “What am I re­ally try­ing to op­ti­mize here, and what is the best way to op­ti­mize it?”. When I think about it, I come to the con­clu­sion that I’m always try­ing to op­ti­mize my hap­piness. The an­swer to the ques­tion of, “why does this mat­ter?” is always, “be­cause it makes me happy”. So then, the idea of love both­ers me, be­cause you sort of throw ra­tio­nal think­ing out the win­dow, stop ask­ing why some­thing ac­tu­ally mat­ters, and just de­cide that this sig­nifi­cant other in­trin­si­cally mat­ters to you. I ques­tion whether this type of think­ing is op­ti­mal, and per­son­ally, whether or not I’m even ca­pa­ble of it.

2) It seems so ob­ses­sive, and I ques­tion whether or not it makes sense to ob­sess so much over one thing. This ar­ti­cle ac­tu­ally ex­plores the brain chem­i­cals in­volved in love, and sug­gests that the chem­i­cals are similar to those that ap­pear in OCD.

Fi­nally, there’s the is­sue of per­ma­nence. Not all love is in­tended to be per­ma­nent, but a lot of the time it is. How can you com­mit to some­thing so per­ma­nently? This makes me think of the mind pro­jec­tion fal­lacy. Per­haps peo­ple com­mit it with love. They think that the ob­ject of their de­sire is in­trin­si­cally de­sir­able, when in fact it is the prop­er­ties of this ob­ject that make it de­sir­able. Th­ese prop­er­ties are far from per­ma­nent (I’d go as far as to say that they’re volatile, at least if you take the long view). So how does it make sense to com­mit to some­thing so per­ma­nently?

So my take is that there is prob­a­bly a form of love that is ra­tio­nal to take. Some­thing along the lines of en­joy­ing each oth­ers com­pany, and car­ing for one an­other and stuff, but not be­ing blindly com­mit­ted to one an­other, and be­ing hon­est about the fact that you wouldn’t do any­thing for one an­other, and will in fact prob­a­bly grow apart at some point.

What do you guys think?