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The Arc of Love

How Our Romantic Lives Change over Time

Is love best when it is fresh? For many, the answer is a resounding “yes.” The intense experiences that characterize new love are impossible to replicate, leading to wistful reflection and even a repeated pursuit of such ecstatic beginnings.

Aaron Ben-Ze’ev takes these experiences seriously, but he’s also here to remind us of the benefits of profound love—an emotion that can only develop with time. In The Arc of Love, he provides an in-depth, philosophical account of the experiences that arise in early, intense love—sexual passion, novelty, change—as well as the benefits of cultivating long-term, profound love—stability, development, calmness. Ben-Ze’ev analyzes the core of emotions many experience in early love and the challenges they encounter, and he offers pointers for weathering these challenges. Deploying the rigorous analysis of a philosopher, but writing clearly and in an often humorous style with an eye to lived experience, he takes on topics like compromise, commitment, polyamory, choosing a partner, online dating, and when to say “I love you.” Ultimately, Ben-Ze’ev assures us, while love is indeed best when fresh, if we tend to it carefully, it can become more delicious and nourishing even as time marches on. 

288 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2019

Philosophy: General Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Society


"Ben-Ze'ev offers in his book The Arc of Love a unique approach on how to gain and maintain an enduring loving relationship."


"This is a wide-ranging work on the nature of love, and how it can change and develop over the course of time... The book is thoughtful and witty, and it can be quite funny. It could be read from beginning to end or dipped into—as a kind of philosophical self-help book—for insight on a particular romantic theme... The author illuminates the everyday reality of love, and untangles some of its mysteries with a practical, commonsense approach."

R. White | Choice

"When roughly half of married couples get divorced, and many others engage in extramarital affairs, the very idea of sustaining a long-term monogamous relationship raises skepticism among many people who view this as not only unrealistic but even undesirable. Thus, the timing of this book is excellent. . . . This book improves and becomes more enjoyable to read as one progresses through the different facets of romantic love, and ends with a solid defense of both the possibility and (perhaps more importantly) desirability of attaining profound romantic love that lasts."


"[Ben-Ze'ev] wants to give romantic love the seriousness it deserves: we do structure large portions of our lives around the project of building romantic relationships with other people, and having them is often a centerpiece of living well. But he also wants to challenge mainstream Western romantic ideology, which tells us that having a lifelong romantic relationship is a necessary and sufficient condition on living a good life, and that a healthy, fulfilling romantic relationship is only possible with the ideal partner."

Elucidations Podcast

"The Arc of Love studies love and romantic relationships from the point of view of time.  Indeed, time in two dimensions. Time as an internal dimension in a relationship between two individuals, as well as the historical time in which –at least in our individualistic Western societies– our relationships are immersed. . . . Professionals will appreciate his value-free examination and analytical approach. Lay people will undoubtedly enjoy Ben Ze'ev's drawings from popular culture and the freshness of his approach."

Metapsychology Online Reviews

“It is important, when contemplating the nature of love, to remember that every romantic love relationship, like the people involved in it, has a history. Love is not static; it is a thing with a story, a thing that takes place in time. Aaron Ben-Ze’ev’s wide-ranging new book, The Arc of Love, which focuses on this aspect of love, will be of interest to philosophers, psychologists, and others who are doing their best to think adequately about this significant, meaningful, very human phenomenon.”

Troy Jollimore, author of Syllabus of Errors

The Arc of Love is a deeply thoughtful analysis that weaves together psychological insights with philosophy, neuroscience, sociology, economics, pop culture, literature, and real stories from real people to show how profound and enduring long-term romantic love is achievable. It untangles a dense web of unhelpful myths, mysteries, and assumptions about love and gives us an arsenal of handy intellectual tools with which to open up new romantic possibilities. It also strikes a playful balance between serious scholarly inquiry and almost poetic prose that makes it delightfully readable and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny. Ben-Ze’ev’s optimism about keeping and enhancing romantic and personal flourishing is contagious and inspiring.”

Skye Cleary, author of Existentialism and Romantic Love

“Aaron Ben-Ze’ev’s new book The Arc of Love is an enthralling account of why so many people today end up in a series of meaningless short-term relationships, hoping that one day they will meet their perfect match. But Ben-Ze’ev doesn’t settle for identifying the root cause of why we are having trouble finding profound long-lasting love. Throughout the book he offers practical advice that can help you get rid of your unrealistic ideals and show you how you can come to experience the magic of being able to grow old with the person you love.”

Berit “Brit” Brogaard, author of On Romantic Love

The Arc of Love: How our Romantic Lives Change over Time by Aaron Been Ze’ev is a wise book. I wish that I had been able to read it when I was sixteen.”

Noël Carroll, Author of Humour: A Very Short Introduction

Table of Contents

1. The Possibility of Long-Term Romantic Love
2. Emotional Experiences
3. Romantic Experiences
4. Fostering Enduring Romantic Love
5. The Role of Time in Love
6. The Romantic Connection
7. Romantic Compromises
8. Choosing a Romantic Partner
9. Romantic Relationships
10. Sexual Relationships
11. Love in Later Life
12. Greater Diversity and Flexibility
13. A Balanced Diet Is the New Romantic Feast
14. Afterword: Fresh Eggs, Aging Wine, and Profound Love

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