An unpopular opinion from a biological anthropologist.
Trying to pinpoint the reason for why we fall in love isn’t easy. While we could say it’s our biological and evolutionary destiny as a means to continue the human race, considering how many other species procreate without the element of love, sort of blows that whole thinking out the window.
So really, what is the purpose of this thing called love?
According to biological anthropologist, Melvin Konner, the purpose of love is getting people out of relationships.
Love, as Konner explains, makes us irrational. It’s when we’re in love that we do things that we wouldn’t normally do and fall victim to crazier than usual behavior. According to him, one of the most irrational things a person can do is leave the “safety of an existing relationship,” and put ourselves on the line for something else, maybe even something we deem better. If that’s the case, maybe love made us do it?
Although the feelings that come with love are old, the focus on it is relatively new. In ancient days people coupled up for reasons not associated with love, as procreation was usually based on an arrangement between families. Love was rarely part of the equation, and definitely not something for which people searched for the meaning.
In terms of monogamy, something of which only 3-5% of species practice (outside of humans, who still aren’t completely monogamous), all fingers seem to point to love as having a purpose in that regard. But considering how often people fall in and out of it, moving on to other people with whom to couple up, that seems a rather shaky hypothesis.
Love is a word we use to explain what binds us to another human being before we decide to move on.
Love doesn’t keep us with one person, nor does it keep people from straying.
From a human standpoint, love gives us a sense of belonging and pleasure. The effects it has on brain is very much on par with drug addiction, so we have a physical and mental need to be "in love" or at least experience what we have defined in our minds as love. That is its purpose.
But from an evolutionary standpoint, there is no purpose. It is not necessary to continue the human race and our caveman ancestors did just fine before they were even aware of the emotion of love as something separate from the need to make babies.
This leads us right back to the original query: Is the purpose of love, if there is one, to get out us out of relationships?
Our history shows us that the force behind getting into a relationship and getting out of one is an equally powerful one, so maybe it is love? Realistically, the jury is still out as the purpose itself still can’t be explained, but I think Konner’s point is that because we don’t know the purpose, it could be anything. And, yes, one of those things is to get us out of a relationship.