Let me start by saying I do believe in love.
The concept of love or positive energy is what I think of as Goddess/God (why must a higher power have a gender?). There is no doubt of the powerful feelings that babies illicit from their mother and from others in their family and social groupings. There are many people that I love because of the relationships that I have developed with them over time, they include family, friends, and lovers. These people live all over the planet, are of varied ages, genders and identifications, but in some way we have connected so that I extend the hand of community to them.
Love creates feelings of loyalty and protection towards those in my community. It also projects a desire of happiness and success for them. What that looks like theirs to define, my ideas of happiness and success are egocentric therefore do not apply to those I love. People must define for themselves what their life desires are and how to attain them, that is the joy and sorrow of living.
Occasionally I fine someone that illicit stronger physical desires. People I want to share intimate experiences with, not necessarily sexual but intimate. These are the people that would fall into the category of partner, possible marriage material if I were of that inclination, or to coin a socially common term. These people are rare; they are similarly situated to my family and friends being of diverse backgrounds but there is stronger draw, society would call it romantic love.
I don't like societal definition of romantic love. The definition has too many assumptions on the part of the players and creates barriers to communication - a key component to honest interaction with another human. Romantic love in our society is an evolution of courtly love, an entertainment form of the upper class and nobility that was developed in the middles ages.
While courtly love seemed to have clearly defined rules at its height, like any game of telephone play over a few centuries, the details and rules today are muddled. Now people are left to interpret from popular culture what the "rules" are for intimate relationships. There are a few set defaults but only two that are hard and fast to a majority of people; dyad and monogamy.
One issue is that I don't want society to define how I relate to other people. I have never liked tightly laced boxes for individuals. The phrase never judge a book by its cover comes to mind... one must actually interact with people before you truly know anything about them. Humans are unique, that is why it is so exciting to get to know someone.
Another issue for me is the dyadic preference our society places on relationships and monogamy which attempts to limit the individual experience of intimacy and love over a lifetime .
There is so much more to write - however I come up against my self-imposed time limit for the day. To the books!