Westerners believe that love makes life worth living; that sex is a natural desire different in kind from love; and that only cynics reduce our love life to a calculation of economic or genetic factors. In this volume, essays explore these and other assumptions about the relationship between romantic love and sex. This represents the first interdisciplinary social science study of love and sex.

Contributors ask and answer questions such as: Is love just sex idealized, or is it a transcendent and divine emotion? Is love a cultural construct that is shared by members of the same culture, or is it a matter of personal taste? What keeps promiscuous people from using condoms even when they know they are at risk? Are black professional men so rare that their conceptions of love and sex differ from those of white professional men? Are brutal sexual fantasies an exclusively male domain, and are they always excluded from love fantasies among normal adolescents? Is divorce a culturally induced response to evolutionary reproductive strategies that compel individuals to maximize their genetic legacy? Are marriages or relationships less satisfying or stable when an actual mate falls short of the fantasy of the ideal mate? Is there a universal core to love and sex that is camouflaged by other cultural norms such as modesty and sexual segregation? Is rape perceived as more acceptable when the rapist says he was motivated by love? What do cult movements and romantic love have in common? As they attempt to answer these and other questions, the authors extend our understanding of the variety of ways that love and sex are conceptualized, connected, or separated.