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You cannot make yourself love someone by choosing to spend all your time with them. This would be reversing cause and effect.

I second complimenting Ifat's comments.

I said in response to Dan's original essay that assuming he had developed and cultivated this wonderful long term relationship, how much threat does a new person really pose to his relationship? One is always able, potentially, to come across a better match, which is why so many relationships founded primarily on superficial premises (looks that fade, wealth that changes, etc) find themselves falling in and out of love so frequently. But a relationship founded on the kind of admiration and respect and cherishing we are talking about here, I can hardly imagine feeling it threatened by merely getting to know someone who is also of high quality. I feel the 'threat' a new potential significant other poses in disrupting your current emotional attatcyhment is likely inverse to the depth of the attatchement, and the length of time spend with them and the degree of intimacy developed, that you share with your current lover. The longer and more developed that bond is, the less likely some stranger will be of such high quality that they will superscede the affection you and your current mate have developed.

Sexual feelings for the intimate friend will have to be suppressed -- but at some point, the requisite self-control might fail. In that case, the affair didn't "just happen," as many people would say. Disaster was deliberately courted, probably over the course of months.

I particularly dislike this assesment of Diana's. If you are forcing yourself to remain attatched to your current lover, this seems applicable, if you have developed a stellar relationship over time I see no major threat, or difficulty in 'self control' (that is lack of actual will) in choosing not to physically express your affection for that new person when it pales so much in comparison to the focus of your life.

This is the opposite of introspection, this is the opposite of understanding oneself. This is treating one's own psychology as if it was the least important. As if a person can create/change his own psychology by choosing how to act.

Conversely, are you suggesting that we always abide by our emotions as the final arbiters? Clearly this is unreasonable as well. assuming emotions to be reactions to our values and our knowledge, we can certainly change our emotional reactions to things through 'choosing' how to act. If every time a lady I fancy drifts into my consciouss thought, perpetually supressing it becomes an ingrained reflexive act not requiring consciouss thought, and eventually I think no more of her. On the other hand, I could embellish the feeling and focus and obsess on that emotion. Which of these actions is healthier? Emotions, even whimsical ones, are not always healthy, nor is acting on them, as they are not always proper or right, but neither is always supressing them. This is where intelligent and critical introspection plays such an important role to pyschological health.

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This is the real issue with multiple intimate relationships (romantic or not). Namely, our time and resources are limited. It is obvious that it is impossible to have intimate friendships with 100 people, but this is not an argument in favor of exclusivity of intimate relationships (romantic or not).

I find that to be an extremely powerful argument in favor of exclusivity of intimacy. The potential nature and depth of that intimacy is directly related to the amount of time spent together. We are finite beings living rather short life times, as such recognizing our limited time and choosing to devote it as wisely as possible is extremely important.

There is no math that can be applied to the issue. Devoting 100% of your time and energy to a single relationship does not necessarily make it better (by the "value provided to your life" standard) than splitting your time between a couple or a few good friends. Each individual can only judge for himself, and not all answers will be the same.

No, but it does significantly affect the potential depth of the connection that can be cultivated, regardless of the individual in question.

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Love is the only glue that can and should hold a relationship together. Actions should match the value and work to gain/keep it - not generate it (such a thing is not possible). You cannot make yourself love someone by choosing to spend all your time with them. This would be reversing cause and effect.

I'm curious then. Are you of the opinion that a lifetime commitment to someone is impossible without the possiblity of repressing feelings. That is, isnt' such a commitment implicitly followed by a caveat. "I'll love you, until I happen to bump into someone whom I value more than you..."

I don't think this is an issue of staying with someone you don't love, as much as it is finding value in more than one person of that same level, and possibly finding a value that is incrementally more than the one you have.

I think that is a very real senario, and I think part of the marriage vow if it is truly a lifetime vow (which we can certainly debate) is that one recognizes the effort it takes to find and develop a relationship of that caliber, and that the incremental value one might obtain from someone of higher character in the future is foregone for this person now. Certainly one doesn't have to explicitly agree to that, but I for one am not going to agree to marry someone who explicitly (or implicitly for that matter) suggestst that they'll stay with me until something better happens to come along, even if they weren't looking for it. Isnt' such a statement simply indicative of the fact that this isn't a relationship that belongs in a marriage, in which case, Dan's paper is irrelevant.

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I feel the 'threat' a new potential significant other poses in disrupting your current emotional attatcyhment is likely inverse to the depth of the attatchement, and the length of time spend with them and the degree of intimacy developed, that you share with your current lover. The longer and more developed that bond is, the less likely some stranger will be of such high quality that they will superscede the affection you and your current mate have developed.

Be careful, you're actually flirting with a contradiction to Ifat. If that cause and effect shown above actually exists, then it does say that choices between how much time to spend with one person vs another can impact the level of threat to an established relationship. If in addition to anothers character, the amount of time spent with someone impacts the depth of the relationship and it is that depth that is rightly weighed against one another, then the choice to avoid someone who may have equal character is appropriate since you are consciously making them a threat to your current relationship.

You see, in order for Dan's rules of thumb to have no bearing, and Ifat to be right, then character and only character, not time, or any other controllable factor must be the input that determines the level of love. If one could control the level of love felt simply by time spent, then one could control the level of love, without repression, but Ifat says such a thing must necessarily involve repression. As such, any vow of marriage must carry with it a caveat that says the vow lasts until such time as a person of higher character enters the picture.

Anything else would involve "repression."

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I find that to be an extremely powerful argument in favor of exclusivity of intimacy. The potential nature and depth of that intimacy is directly related to the amount of time spent together. We are finite beings living rather short life times, as such recognizing our limited time and choosing to devote it as wisely as possible is extremely important.

Hmm... I"ll ask the same question I asked Ifat, do you view marriage or some other long term vow as just such a compromise. That is since we have limited lifetime and limited resources that part of an offer of lifetime commitment is a realization that there might be people out there that one might value more than the current spouse, but that the incremental value obtained is foregone for a commitment now. If so, then possible additional intimate relationships are a threat to that commitment since they could be with people that you'd end up valuing more. no?

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"I'll love you, until I happen to bump into someone whom I value more than you..."

You are pretty much begging the question. You assume that romantic love is exclusive, which is exactly the point in question. Finding someone who you value more does not decrease the value of the first person. Even if you stay strictly monogamous and leave the first person for the second, this does not mean you love the first any less.

That said, I would abhor being in a relationship with someone who sticks with me because she made a promise to. I want to know that each and every day she stays in a relationship with me that is the best possible thing she could do. And for as long as the relationship lasts, be it a lifetime or not, be it exclusive or not, she will know that being in a relationship with her is the best possible thing I could have done.

I frankly don't know how it can be otherwise for rational people. Or, to put it at the level you used in the quote above, "I'll stay with you even if to do so I have to give up another person who is actually better for me" is no basis to build a healthy relationship on. For such a relationship to be successful, it is essential to not meet that other person. And thus Dan's essay is more vindication of what I (and Michael, and Ifat) have been arguing around here for a long time than anything else.

Edited by mrocktor
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You see, in order for Dan's rules of thumb to have no bearing, and Ifat to be right, then character and only character, not time, or any other controllable factor must be the input that determines the level of love.

Now a positive comment. You hit on an important fact here, though perhaps not intentionally. The amount of time you spend with someone is an essential component in how well you know that person.

Let us assume two people of "equal character", if that even exists. One of them is your partner of 20 years and the other someone you just met. There is no way you can know the new person is as good as your partner. The depth of knowledge required for the comparison takes a lot of time. Supposing you simply run into the second person, you would probably think "oh, she's nice" and have no particular reason to pursue it further. In that sense, lasting honest relationships are stable, in that they are self reinforcing.

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... but I for one am not going to agree to marry someone who explicitly (or implicitly for that matter) suggests that they'll stay with me until something better happens to come along ...

I'm curious. Let me see if I understand you here, because the rest of your points seem to be based on this.

What if that person does see somebody better (e.g. Dagny sees Galt), does this mean that it would be proper for Dagny to limit the time she spends with Galt and try to avoid as much "romantic development" as possible (since she was with Hank before)?

Is your requirement of a form: "I want you to do X regardless of what future facts may bring," where X="stay with me" ? If so, it is anti-epistemological for a human.

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Now a positive comment. You hit on an important fact here, though perhaps not intentionally. The amount of time you spend with someone is an essential component in how well you know that person.

Let us assume two people of "equal character", if that even exists. One of them is your partner of 20 years and the other someone you just met. There is no way you can know the new person is as good as your partner. The depth of knowledge required for the comparison takes a lot of time. Supposing you simply run into the second person, you would probably think "oh, she's nice" and have no particular reason to pursue it further. In that sense, lasting honest relationships are stable, in that they are self reinforcing.

I agree with that up to a point. However, certainly you'd agree that the amount of marginal essential information you learn about a person decreases with time. Therefore it is certainly possible that you'd come to know someone else well enough in far less than another 20 years to judge if she's better for your or not. And certainly since you've said there is nothing wrong with pursuing such a relationship, I'd say you've got a recipe for destabilization instead.

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What if that person does see somebody better (e.g. Dagny sees Galt), does this mean that it would be proper for Dagny to limit the time she spends with Galt and try to avoid as much "romantic development" as possible (since she was with Hank before)?

Well that would depend on the specific committment she made to Hank, which is why I specifically said marriage. She obviously made no such commitment to Hank so it's an irrelevant example.

Is your requirement of a form: "I want you to do X regardless of what future facts may bring," where X="stay with me" ? If so, it is anti-epistemological for a human.

About specific future facts? Sure. About every future fact? No. If this is anti-epistemic, then every commercial contract I've ever entered into is as well. Try having a child and see if "any future facts" will allow you to reneg on that commitment. There are all sorts of ways to break a marriage and some are certainly valid and they are risks one takes regardless of the commitment made. However, obtaining a commitment for certain future states is certainly reasonable. If you think you can find a woman who'll bear a child with you, knowing up front that it is perfectly reasonable for you to leave her if you find someone just slightly better than her, well good luck with that. That is a future fact I think is perfectly reasonable to obtain a commitment against. Rememberl, we're not talking about someone significantly better than you because if she's at all rational, she wouldn't have you. You'd leave a woman for some incremental benefit.

Remember, for the man and woman of average character, half the people he/she meets are potentially better than his/her spouse. Even just the percentile incrementally better is huge.

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You are pretty much begging the question. You assume that romantic love is exclusive, which is exactly the point in question. Finding someone who you value more does not decrease the value of the first person. Even if you stay strictly monogamous and leave the first person for the second, this does not mean you love the first any less.

Maybe I'll rephrase. "I'll invest in a life with you, and allow you to do the same, until..." Certainly that investment disappears when you leave someone, no?

That said, I would abhor being in a relationship with someone who sticks with me because she made a promise to. I want to know that each and every day she stays in a relationship with me that is the best possible thing she could do. And for as long as the relationship lasts, be it a lifetime or not, be it exclusive or not, she will know that being in a relationship with her is the best possible thing I could have done.

That's a nice straw man. We're not talking about someone who only stays with you for no other reason than she made a promise to you. I think the difference is that "the best thing I could have done" includes the long term view for me, including the past. 50 years with a wonderful woman beats 40 with one just slightly better. However, at year 10, if I treat the first 10 years with the first woman as a "sunk cost", as having no value to me, as being discardable, why then, it's 40 vs. 40 and I'm outta there. As I told Olex, if you can find a woman who'll invest in a life with you, and potentially have your child, under those terms, well good luck. I posit that a rational woman, knowing that she will amost assuredly face a large burden of investment in something like children, especially if you leave, is wise to obtain different terms.

As I said before, I'm not suggesting there arent' special contexts where that is tremendously possible, but the idea that this is rational for the general population is really beginning to annoy me.

I frankly don't know how it can be otherwise for rational people. Or, to put it at the level you used in the quote above, "I'll stay with you even if to do so I have to give up another person who is actually better for me" is no basis to build a healthy relationship on. For such a relationship to be successful, it is essential to not meet that other person. And thus Dan's essay is more vindication of what I (and Michael, and Ifat) have been arguing around here for a long time than anything else.

As I've said above this is a false alternative, and the fact that you value a past spent with someone so worthlessly, that fact that you can think of it no other way, tells me a lot about how you view value for another human being. Good luck finding that woman. I'll wager you'll find very few of them, especially among Objectivist women.

I find that to be an extremely powerful argument in favor of exclusivity of intimacy. The potential nature and depth of that intimacy is directly related to the amount of time spent together. We are finite beings living rather short life times, as such recognizing our limited time and choosing to devote it as wisely as possible is extremely important.

Matus, you really ought to take a look at what the people you're agreeing with are saying. Sunk costs, investements made, limited resources. All are to be valued for naught if you can find someone better than the woman you have now.

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Well that would depend on the specific committment she made to Hank, which is why I specifically said marriage. She obviously made no such commitment to Hank so it's an irrelevant example.
Alright, let's extend it to the full context of the book. Before Dagny flew to what will be her crash landing, Hank was ready to propose to her. He just decided to wait a little longer. Let's assume, Dagny didn't crash that time, but only the second time she tried that. And in-between that, Hank proposed. Do you think Dagny would have accepted?

I think so. So, now that Dagny has accepted a marriage, would it be wrong for her now to leave Hank for Galt?

About specific future facts? Sure. About every future fact? No. If this is anti-epistemic, then every commercial contract I've ever entered into is as well.
I have no idea what you are talking about here. Can you rephrase or add some concrete example?

Try having a child and see if "any future facts" will allow you to reneg on that commitment. There are all sorts of ways to break a marriage and some are certainly valid and they are risks one takes regardless of the commitment made. However, obtaining a commitment for certain future states is certainly reasonable.
I don't understand your abstract description here. Also "try having to do X under condition Y" isn't a good argument here. I would need some concrete example. (I certainly not going to have a kid just to understand the argument.)

If you think you can find a woman who'll bear a child with you, knowing up front that it is perfectly reasonable for you to leave her if you find someone just slightly better than her, well good luck with that. That is a future fact I think is perfectly reasonable to obtain a commitment against. Remember, we're not talking about someone significantly better than you because if she's at all rational, she wouldn't have you. You'd leave a woman for some incremental benefit.

What is the standard here that one can find "incrementally better" and "just slightly better than"? Is it something like just slightly smarter? Just slightly higher IQ?

Remember, for the man and woman of average character, half the people he/she meets are potentially better than his/her spouse. Even just the percentile incrementally better is huge.

What does an evaluation of 'average' men have to do with figuring out how to deal with opposite sex friendships?

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Alright, let's extend it to the full context of the book. Before Dagny flew to what will be her crash landing, Hank was ready to propose to her. He just decided to wait a little longer. Let's assume, Dagny didn't crash that time, but only the second time she tried that. And in-between that, Hank proposed. Do you think Dagny would have accepted?

I think so. So, now that Dagny has accepted a marriage, would it be wrong for her now to leave Hank for Galt?

Let's assume that she said the words "forsake all others". Yes. Now, we can debate whether one should say those words, or would rationally enter into such an agreement, but if she did, then yes.

There might be other reasons she would be right to leave (he became a bum, etc), but for no other reason than this, yes. This assumes that her esteem, and value for Hank, change not one iota. And she is fully integrated. To me that is the nature of the marriage commitment. Speaking as one whose been married and divorced I think if one doesn't want to make such a commitment, then marriage is a tough institution to use differently. One could live with someone under other circumstances and understandings where it would not be wrong to leave. But if we're talking about explicit agreements between parties and hte ability to enter into those, then yes, one can obligate oneself to future actions.

I have no idea what you are talking about here. Can you rephrase or add some concrete example?

All contracts both implicitly and explicitly bind parties to future obligations, in spite of the outcome of certain future facts. For instance, many termination clauses specifically hold certain clauses binding in the event of termination. That means that regardless if the contract is terminated the parties are still obligated to each other for certain things. That is pretty strong "regardless of future facts" language. Everyday millions of people enter into contracts with such future commitments binding them, ones that exclude the outcome fo certain future facts. Are you suggesting that these all ALL anti-epistemological.

Having a child is the same sort of obligation. You enter into that, and obligate yourself to future action, regardless of the outcome of certain facts of reality. You can't reneg on being parent because you get a poorer paying job. Obligating yourself in the future is not anti-epistemological. Because someone can assess the chances of future states existing, and one can conceptually project the implications. "hmmm if I commit to X, then that means I could end up in a senario where I'm poor and still have the obligation I'm committing to. hmm what are the chances that this will happen? Can I accept those risks?"

What is the standard here that one can find "incrementally better" and "just slightly better than"? Is it something like just slightly smarter? Just slightly higher IQ?

What standard do you use to judge a woman worthy of a long term commited relationship. Take that and add "1%" to it.

What does an evaluation of 'average' men have to do with figuring out how to deal with opposite sex friendships?

I'm trying to suggest to you that since one can project the consequences of accepting risks, that for the average man or woman, the chances of meeting someone who is incrementally better than the person they would commit to are high, therefore, I doubt many would enter into a committment that might require a high burden of investment if the other party has an "easy" out. I'm concretizing to you how it is exactly epistemological to accept future obligations.

Edited by KendallJ
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Also consider the lash to ones self esteem. One would have to tell themselves, "I could do better, but I'll stay how I am," or, "So-and-so is good enough for me to love, so I'll avoid the other relationship." I don't think I could admire someone enough to fall in love with them, if they had that attitude.

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All contracts both implicitly and explicitly bind parties to future obligations, in spite of the outcome of certain future facts.
Alright, so then you equate that to how marriage is for you. OK, clear.

What standard do you use to judge a woman worthy of a long term commited relationship. Take that and add "1%" to it.
That assumes the standard is made up of cardinal numbers. What about nominal numbers (ranks). In such cases, it doesn't make any sense to "add 1%." What is Dagny*101% ? I mean, can you really say that this person matches me 95% and then explain why it's not 94% or 94.5%?

I'm trying to suggest to you that since one can project the consequences of accepting risks, that for the average man or woman, the chances of meeting someone who is incrementally better than the person they would commit to are high, therefore, I doubt many would enter into a commitment that might require a high burden of investment if the other party has an "easy" out. I'm concertizing to you how it is exactly epistemological to accept future obligations.
Alright, though, I still disagree about your idea of a standard as being made up of cardinal numbers. Thus, this example doesn't really make sense to me.
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Also consider the lash to ones self esteem. One would have to tell themselves, "I could do better, but I'll stay how I am," or, "So-and-so is good enough for me to love, so I'll avoid the other relationship." I don't think I could admire someone enough to fall in love with them, if they had that attitude.

hmm. I agree that entering a relationship where that was someones attitude is disappointing. But attitude and reality are two different things. Let's take the man of average character. Can't a woman always do a little bit better in reality? You sir, are you John Galt? If not, isn't there someone out there that your wife could find that would be better for you?

I think that the confusion here, is that the fact that simply the fact that better men exists, and one could find and attract one, does not mean that over the course of one's life one could "do better". The fact of limted resources and limited time, and the difficulties in finding others would say that at a given time, someone you find now is actually the person you can do the best with.

The opposite view of course is to treat the past with someone with no value and simply dump them when someone better comes along. Could you admire someone who would value you like that as well?

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From context, I don't think Kendall means "average," so much as "normal." And perhaps even more than that, to: "all but the most ludicrously exceptional."
Right, that was a slip of tongue for me. That's what I was referring to.
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But attitude and reality are two different things. Let's take the man of average character. Can't a woman always do a little bit better in reality? You sir, are you John Galt? If not, isn't there someone out there that your wife could find that would be better for you?
Oh yes, quite possibly.

I have known very competent people, but there were things about their style I did not like. Its not merely, "you scored higher on your SAT test, I will now dump my wife." It is important for one to know their own ego. One must introspect their emotions, find the underlying values in their feelings, and pick apart what they like and don't like about others, until they have something more whole in mind. Its not merely leap frogging from partner to partner.

I think that the confusion here, is that the fact that simply the fact that better men exists, and one could find and attract one, does not mean that over the course of one's life one could "do better". The fact of limted resources and limited time, and the difficulties in finding others would say that at a given time, someone you find now is actually the person you can do the best with.
One could think this, but it would be an evasion to ignore it when someone better does come. And that evasion will hurt ones own self esteem. To actively be aware of it, would be to act one way, but feel another way.

The opposite view of course is to treat the past with someone with no value and simply dump them when someone better comes along. Could you admire someone who would value you like that as well?
I can't admire Frogger, no. But I can admire someone who knows what they want, and has the rare pleasure of finding someone closer to their values than I.

forsake all others
This, to me, seems like saying, "I am prepared to evade all others that I might find better than you."

Edit for grammar

Edited by horvay
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50 years with a wonderful woman beats 40 with one just slightly better. However, at year 10, if I treat the first 10 years with the first woman as a "sunk cost", as having no value to me, as being discardable, why then, it's 40 vs. 40 and I'm outta there.
Wooha, this just weirds me out.

So, your proposition is to calculate the overall happiness based on:

Quality of a woman = X. Time with a woman = Y. And so we are to maximize function (X,Y) = X*Y? And of course when considering a switch, the math gets more complicated. Not that I like to make extensive math jokes, but I remember solving this kind of math problems in middle school. ("Two ships start with velocities v1 and v2 at location x1 and x2. Which one will be the first to get to location x3?")

This, however, assumes that (in the context of romantic love) a person can find a ratio between many different candidates. That is: one person is 15%; second is 45%; third is 85%, etc. However, that's not true.

Quoting lexicon (it says it too well not to quote here): http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/love.html

One falls in love with the embodiment of the values that formed a person's character, which are reflected in his widest goals or smallest gestures, which create the style of his soul—the individual style of a unique, unrepeatable, irreplaceable consciousness. It is one's own sense of life that acts as the selector, and responds to what it recognizes as one's own basic values in the person of another. It is not a matter of professed convictions (though these are not irrelevant); it is a matter of much more profound, conscious and subconscious harmony.
(Underline is mine.)

My claim is that one cannot produce a ratio between two individual "styles." Not when each styles is made up of many small gestures that most people wouldn't even notice really, or some manner of speaking, etc., etc. How do you create a ratio of two manners of speaking? Or minute details in body movement? You can't.

Thus, ratios can't be created, and thus "F = X*Y" isn't applicable.

-----

Furthermore, it sounds very strange to "maximize" happiness in the context of romantic love. What is it that being maximized here? How many jokes one had over an amount of time? Is it fun in general? If amount of fun is the goal, then why limited it to romantic love? It would make sense then to replace romantic love with something else - some or any activities which generates more fun overall. I claim that the goal here isn't fun in general, but a particular kind of joy, which can't come from any close romantic mate, but only from the best that one knows.

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My claim is that one cannot produce a ratio between two individual "styles."

I've had this tried before. Why then, how does one judge between them?

Comparability in at least emotional response is possible, is it not?

Without such a judgement, one could neither decide to enter into or exit any relationship for another.

Are you saying there is no standard for love?

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I've had this tried before. Why then, how does one judge between them?

Comparability in at least emotional response is possible, is it not?

Without such a judgement, one could neither decide to enter into or exit any relationship for another.

Are you saying there is no standard for love?

No, I'm saying that you can rank them, but you can't come up with a ratio between the two.

You can say X>Y, but not X/Y=1.05.

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Also, I think this discussion is going a bit off from what Dan wrote.

Dan was assuming that the non-spouse person that you're considering developing an intimate relationship with is NOT more valuable than your spouse. He's saying that your emotions can become entangled if you develop such a relationship, regardless of the fact that they would be incorrect and that your spouse would be the higher value. His advice is to avoid that level of intimacy because your emotions will follow the input you give them, regardless of which person you actually value more.

So the case of someone who may actually be a higher value than the spouse - that is not at all what Dan was addressing with his essay.

No, I'm saying that you can rank them, but you can't come up with a ratio between the two.

You can say X>Y, but not X/Y=1.05.

But couldn't you say X>Y as against X>Y?

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But couldn't you say X>Y as against X>Y?
Oh, yes, of course. That's just part of ranking. One rank can be much higher than another rank, or somewhat closer. It just used ">" as an example in my post above. I was giving an example to nominal numbers in my earlier posts.
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Also, I think this discussion is going a bit off from what Dan wrote.

Dan was assuming that the non-spouse person that you're considering developing an intimate relationship with is NOT more valuable than your spouse. He's saying that your emotions can become entangled if you develop such a relationship, regardless of the fact that they would be incorrect and that your spouse would be the higher value. His advice is to avoid that level of intimacy because your emotions will follow the input you give them, regardless of which person you actually value more.

So the case of someone who may actually be a higher value than the spouse - that is not at all what Dan was addressing with his essay.

This is true. I was upping the stakes a bit. Exposing all of mrocktors position.

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