642 Comments

"Dating licenses can be revoked for sufficiently serious crimes - eg cheating, domestic abuse, or persistent alcoholism/drug use."

Another crime, "failing to do the dishes after promising to," should be added.

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"For some reason nobody except libertarians has this gut feeling about anything else anymore, so we go and do the things that superficially look like they’ll make things fairer and better and safer."

This is why we need to build O'Neill Habitats, which will re-open the frontier and allow for greater experimentation in terms of policy ideas. An O'Neill Habitat, as implausible as it is, is still more plausible than libertarians taking over New Hampshire.

The libertarian O'Neill Habitat would probably be very male, which would be a drawback for men.

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why am I tearing up right now

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Half the marriages worldwide are arranged though. The western idea of autonomous romantic love has high memetic power, but may lose out in the fertility game to the higher matchmaking capability and stability of arranged marriages.

Wikipedia:

> The lowest divorce rates in the world are in cultures with high rates of arranged marriages such as Amish culture of United States (1%),[97] Hindus of India (3%),[87] and Ultra-Orthodox Jews of Israel (7%).[98] According to a 2012 study by Statistic Brain, 53.25% of marriages are arranged worldwide. The global divorce rate for arranged marriages was 6.3%, which could be an indicator for the success rate of arranged marriages.[99] This has led scholars to ask if arranged marriages are more stable than autonomous marriages, and whether this stability matters.

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One argument why love is special: it affects the specific person you're intentionally involved with instead of the general public (unlike things like selling drugs at pharmacies or crypto scams, or driving where you can potentially hit and kill anyone on the street).

I guess child raising is also like this? But the advocates for the laws that interfere with child raising would argue that those laws are only against abuse, which does also apply to marriage. And the laws against home schooling probably come from schooling's history as a communal thing everyone sent their kids to. Which does imply that centralized dating apps increase the risk of regulations on love.

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Best American legal case name: Loving v. Virginia.

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I thought economic deregulation had been more common than the converse, past 50 years so, barring DEI initiatives?

It's not that hard to break out the life-satisfaction stats on arranged marriages vs. non-arranged marriages, and the former generally stack up pretty well, though obviously there's a lot of confounders related to SES and ethnic background.

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> Usually when things are this unfair, we demand some attempt to restore fairness, maybe through redistribution.

I suspect there are very few incels among the Amish, or other very religious groups, because they have a strong interest in match-making within their groups.

Thinking back to your gene selection post, I suspect the Amish are on average more evolutionarily successful than even the richest billionaires, the most intelligent geniuses, or the tallest basketball players.

I think culture wins over genes a lot of the time, provided the genes are just *good enough* to provide a substrate for the culture to grow on.

Maybe that's how Jews have lasted thousands of years, even.

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> becoming progressively less regulated

Isn't «both parties were equally drunk when agreeing» moving from «people have right to be stupid» to «let's punish someone, or both» though?

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#3 reminds me that a lot of the problem of dating apps is due to lack of information. Fuller and more accurate disclosure could fix some of what’s wrong with them - e.g. filtering matches by how many people they’ve hooked up with through the app could prevent commitment-minded women from wasting time with lying rakes. All of people’s behavior the app could basically be made part of their profile in lieu of the reputational system that would incentivize good behavior if you met through friends.

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Love and friendship are indeed the last bastions of unregulated relationships: you have your preferences and there’s nothing the state can do about it. I second this

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> Love operates on the non-aggression principle. To a first approximation, the only rule is that you may not seize it by force. Otherwise, anything goes.

"I love you therefore you owe me" is a pretty common and [micro-]aggressive stance.

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“Love” is driven by the sexual desire right? I’m talking purely of romantic love for now

And societies have tried to regulate sex— somewhat successfully I might add. Sure we had the sexual revolution in the 60s but that also led to soaring STD and divorce rates.

Even now, sex is regulated by a strong shaming culture.

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What a beautiful post.

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Love is.......

Love is a stranger

In an open car

To tempt you in

And drive you far away.......

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After reading the footnote on the progressive deregulation of love over time, I feel like this is a pretty big bullet to bite and still keep the overall claim of the essay. How many of the love stories of legend are about forbidden love? Regulation over the conditions under which intimate bonds and babies get made is an unbelievably powerful tool of social control. See anti miscegenation laws, sodomy laws, forced sterilization, forced marriages and enslavement, even primate bands regulate mating through direct violence in maintenance of the group status hierarchy.

You frame love as enduring under a protective power while regulation slowly strangles all else. But that has been incredibly far from the status quo throughout most of human history. If you care about increasing liberty overall, it might be worth asking what caused the rapid draw down in state intervention and if there were deliberate tactics that can be applied elsewhere.

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Prostitution is the liberterian model for love. It's transactional, and as a single category of behavior it obfuscates enormous differences in the power dynamics that define each case, such that trafficking or survival sex becomes grouped under the same label as call girls and others who have no plausible coercion to work.

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The argument about looking good / actually working begs to be turned around, though? What looks awful currently is regulating people's love lives, what could -in an utilitarian sense- be good is reducing one of the main sources of murder. At the expense of trivial government controls of the sort of drivers' licenses and traffic rule enforcement, which reduces traffic deaths and hasn't really been the way we've been turned in a dystopia.

Fwiw, not endorsing that we should regulate it. It'd probably have a million failure modes and be abused horribly. Just taking the argument to its logical conclusion: often what looks good is what our fuzzy feelings about very direct personal experiences tell us, and that opinion doesn't change until a lot of effort is put into having people internalize the meaning of big, abstract numbers. Cf buying mosquito nets vs helping your local community.

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Re. footnote 2: yes, it's definitely a simplified story. AFAIK, in Germany people needed a marriage license until the mid-1800, to make sure that marriage partners had sufficient economic resources to raise children. Marriage is a different thing from love and passion, though, and the many children who were born out of wedlock were, of course, dealt a shitty hand. Maybe that's one of the reasons for deregulation: many regulations also punish innocents and push them to the margins of society for life. Then again, deregulation hasn't exactly solved that problem, it has only absolved the state of the direct responsibility.

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The first thing that came to my mind for an actual libertarian holiday would have been Black Friday - that ultimate celebration of capitalism.

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Feb 14·edited Feb 14

"Thirty years ago, it sounded horrifying and dystopian to think that the government could monitor everyone’s phone calls and read their emails. Now the government does this all the time, and if you don’t like it you’re soft on terror [...]

This doesn't seem like a very good example, to me. Almost all of the institutions spying on and tracking people are huge corporations who are doing it perfectly consistently with libertarian principles and who are controlling people (again perfectly consistently with libertarian principles) considerably more effectively through manipulation, marketing, and via control of the products we buy than governments are through their reading of people's emails etc.

The reason people accept this espionage and manipulation /isn't/ because they don't want to be seen to be "soft on terror" but because the espionage and manipulation are almost entirely a hidden-until-it's-too-late side-effect of all the shiny, attractive, superficially-empowering things the corporations tempt us with..... in other words, the appropriate fantasy novel ring metaphor for this section of the post is much less "magical ring of protection" and much more Tolkien....

As for love being the last libertarian holdout, I have to admit that likening love's terribleness to libertarianism appeals to my anti-libertarian sensibilities (do they show?) but I'm not sure about the "holdout" part: it seems to me that the world is trending *more* libertarian, rather than less, insofar as (owing to corporate lobbying, regulatory capture, races-to-the-bottom, and a dozen other mechanisms all the way up to outright corruption) the aforementioned huge corporations that monitor and control our access to almost everything and feature in almost every transaction we make are increasingly able to pay their way above the law, and are acting on increasingly libertarian principles..

(..Happy Valentine's Day! 💖)

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No mention of the coincidental Japanese word for love?

Unwilling Singles' Day is a little more bearable if I frame it as an anti-regulatory holdout. The Siege of Hallmark's Deep. Thank you. Although it is still somewhat depressing the absurd amount of shitty chocolates/flowers/whatever I help foist on people this time each year. They say nudges are overrated, but I dunno...I just don't get that mental groove which would compel someone towards saw-it-by-the-checkout-stand token gifts. At least that aspect of the dating market is fully competitive and highly profitable, no regulations needed. ("And you wonder why you're still single," chided Angel.)

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95% of people describe themselves as at least “satisfied” with their romantic relationship, and 60% as “extremely satisfied”. Is there any other institution that can say the same?

Well, any major religion..

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Is MLK woke?

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Feb 14·edited Feb 14

Ah yes, the wonders of truly unregulated love and marriage:

(Disturbing)34yo Homer Peel kisses his 12yo bride Geneva on the courthouse steps in Tennessee, 1937.

https://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/1ao7p7o/disturbing34yo_homer_peel_kisses_his_12yo_bride

To be fair, child marriage was illegal at that time and place, but the judge deciding the case refused to annull the marriage anyway.

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There is a libertarian holiday, at least in the United States: Independence Day, celebrated every 4 July. The Libertarian Futurist Society has long made it the deadline for our members to return their ballots for the Prometheus Awards.

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Feb 14·edited Feb 14

I'm not a libertarian and don't share the same sympathetic view of libertarianism, but that aside ... it seems like the state of love is, in fact, worse these days in many ways. Fewer people are in a relationship or getting married than in the past, and it seems like that's not because they don't want to be in a relationship.

There are subcultures that have basically universal marriage at a young age, like Haredi Jews. I don't think we should copy them ... but it seems like one positive aspect of a system like that, is that people see "getting young people to be paired off into stable relationships" as an important societal function that they put a great deal of effort into.

I don't think you have to go into the realm of arranged marriages and thinking single 23 year olds are weirdos, to think that "have everyone figure it out themselves" isn't the best strategy either and that maybe older people should view it as a community responsibility to help shepherd people into long-term relationships.

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I'm from outside the US so I'm not familiar with libertarianism as a concept and how it differs from classical liberalism. Is this a real philosophical difference or just that liberal already has a more popular meaning in America? If the former, does anyone have any recommendations for good books on the history of libertarianism and how it diverged from the schools of classical liberalism?

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I think the operational definition of relationship has merit, especially an operational definition of 'commitment' thats involved in say 'marriage' and the response-abilities required to maintain a 'relationship', or a 'marriage' based on 'love' esp with children and even the relationship after breakup if there is children.....is love changing the incontinence pad of a husband who is 20years older?, is love not cheating if a partner is in the depths of grief or has gained lots of weight on maternity leave and there are 2 toddlers as well in the house. I think young people and immature people regardless of age, see 'love' as admiration or status symbols like conspicious consumption but 'life' can evolve 'love' to mean something very mature and grounding. i think for children and disabilities and everything outside the norm of 'romeo and juliet' love (which is considered psychopathically obsessional in todays world)...what is love....I think its linked to temperance and emotional maturity. Its a pity the myth of 'loving' families remains tho, after 50yrs I honestly wonder where are they?..all I mainly see is jealousy, narcissism, addiction and exhaustion and notions that the grass is greener elsewhere which is a learned ontological view in ex colonised countries arguably.....as relationships require work, and the boss was supposed to get the 'best' of the worker, so the worker is rendered un response- able to family and love. Sad really.

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Feb 14·edited Feb 14

> In every fantasy book, there’s the Magical Hidden Valley with the Mystical Ring Of Protection that means the forces of the Dark Lord can never reach them. Even as corruption creeps over everything else, the Magical Hidden Valley stays pure and beautiful. The Chosen Hero has to convince the inhabitants of the Magical Hidden Valley to abandon their safety and join the fight to save the rest of the world.

Hmmm.

Mistborn: not present.

Wheel of Time: not present.

The Book of Three: present, though the valley [actually, mountaintop] isn't really occupied by people and no effort is made to get anyone to leave.

The Lord of the Rings: not present.

Sword of Truth: not present.

Magic of Recluce: I've never read this. I tried reading the first book and it came off as contrived.

Discworld: I don't remember anything in specific, but I wouldn't be surprised if something similar happened in one of the books.

Robin Hobb: not present. Also, there's no Dark Lord, which manages to distinguish this series from most of what I've listed above.

Magician (Raymond Feist): not present.

Riddle-Master of Hed: I can't keep the events in Patricia McKillip's stories straight. But I don't think there was any such zone of safety.

Valdemar: not present. Valdemar (the region) is frequently noted as a place of special safety, but that is because they do the fighting that has to be done to keep the forces of darkness at bay.

Am I missing something major? What's an example of a fantasy novel where this happens?

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>Libertarians don’t really have their own holiday.

And having one would be distinctly non-Libertarian. They should instead all individually pick a holiday and celebrate it on their own decentralized terms.

>through no fault of their own. They were born ugly, or with fewer social skills,

...bad social skills are through fault of their own.

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Okay, but the common idea of romantic love is also holistic, non-legible and selfless. The only contract you sign is optional, not legally binding and isn't carefully worded. You're supposed to constantly make sloppy economic decisions. You're supposed to treat your partner as an unfathomable miraculous entity while correctly guessing what they want. More than anything it feels rather like anarchism.

Are there libertarians who are like that? From what I've seen, when libertarians approach love the way they approach everything else, they become Red Pillers.

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> Nobody is allowed to date without a license.

Age of concent.

> Dating licenses can be revoked

Restraining orders.

> Three month waiting period for marriage

I think there is such a thing in Russia? Or may it be just the natural queues?

> Centralized government database of who is in a relationship with whom

Marriage registry

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I get the vibe behind this essay, but I think it's really unfortunate because there is a negative stereotype of libertarians supporting statutory rape. A libertarian saying loudly and proudly that love between any two consenting individuals should not be regulated plays straight into it. I know Scott doesn't mean it this way, but people will hear dog whistles anyway.

Also, I do think that love historically has been regulated and should continue to be regulated, and not in the way you might think. Arranged marriages have been mentioned by others, but these are not examples of regulation. Quite the opposite. In fact, it is government regulation that broke the tyranny of arranged marriages in Westernized countries, by making various methods of enforcing them illegal, e.g. honour killings, disinheritance, etc. The free exercise of love Scott celebrates in this essay is in fact a product of government regulation. This is yet another fine example of government regulation bringing freedom, by crushing the actual main source of oppression in the world: other private individuals. If you are capable of acting without your family, employer, creditors, etc. controlling you unduly, it's generally because government applied its iron fist in your favour. So I support continuing government regulation in love, because that's what keeps it free.

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Isn't this what religion is for? No sex without marriage, marriage must be approved by a priest, no divorces unless you have a very good reason, no cheating on your spouse, etc, etc?

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As one of the eternal losers on this topic, I still agree with the idea that it's good for this to be free, with the important caveat that it sure does /suck/ to be on the wrong side of this particular bell curve. Maybe I should finally bite the bullet and try one of those [dry heave]dating apps[/dry heave], even though I only ever hear bad things about them and my inherent disdain for it.

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You should look into the recent regulations put in India against live-in relationships. It's some license Raj shit

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Does anybody know how free peasants were to marry in medieval Europe? Arranged marriages don’t seem to be the norm there from what I read - there were matchmakers but that wasn’t obligatory. Love songs abound but that doesn’t mean people married for love.

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A true libertarian society wouldn't happen even if *everyone was a libertarian*. Here's why:

1) Being a libertarian means you believe there is at most a small set of things which it is essential for society to regulate by force, eg killing

2) Libertarians are human

3) Humans don't agree on anything

4) Therefore, libertarians don't agree on the set of things which it is essential for society to regulate

5) Therefore, it's necessary to reach a compromise on which things to regulate

6) No-one will willingly compromise by giving up something they regard as essential

7) Therefore, the only compromise possible is to agree to the regulation of things you don't think are essential to regulate

8) Therefore, the result will be most people living under regulations they don't believe are essential

QED

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I dunno arranged marriages in the formal and informal sense used to be more common, right? And divorce had huge social stigma?

Perhaps the non-regulation you see is a more recent thing as regulation by the Church and social stigma has receded?

Also the laws against marrying cousins are not universal, and come out of the Church too?

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Even libertarians regulate negative externalities; dealing with those has nothing to do with fairness per se. It's at least arguable that there are pervasive, chronic externalities that have gone unaddressed, and you don't have to be "woke" to admit that.

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Feb 14·edited Feb 14

"Love is unfair. Some people go on dozens of dates with supermodels, then have happy marriages with their perfect partner. Other people die alone, through no fault of their own. They were born ugly, or with fewer social skills, or with less money, or disconnected from the social networks that would allow them to meet good partners. Usually when things are this unfair, we demand some attempt to restore fairness, maybe through redistribution. In love, nobody demands this - except incels, who are universally loathed for it."

I think one reason for the exception love is given from authoritarian tendencies in (Western) people's mind is that the inequality Scott describes here is still much less stark than in other areas of life. It is reigned in by the biological fact that there is roughly parity between the sexes and the social fact that most people are mostly monogamous.

For this reason most people end up finding someone eventually, even if it is not the person of their dreams. Harems, polyarmory etc. are still rare in Western societies and usually decay over time (most hippies ended up settling down with one partner only), ensuring this limit on inequality. Even most incels (in the non-ideological sense) will eventually find someone.

It seems to me that cultures with wide-spread polygamy (for one gender) also regulate love more. In some African societies with polygamy for men, men cannot marry unless they pay bride price. This limits the inequality rampant one-sided polygamy would otherwise entail. In practice, due to value conflicts induced by superficial christianization and rampant poverty that precludes many men from ever being able to pay bride price, the system has broken down completely. What happens now instead is that people often live together long term but unmarried (in Kenya this type of relationship is called the "come-we-stay") and both genders are polyamorous: men are often not able to support a family, so by necessity women end up acquiring multiple breadwinners in turn increasing the opportunities for men, etc. The only difference is that men will brag about it while women will deny it. I think this can be described as a system of love-anarchy instead of a system of love-liberty. As far as I can tell, pretty much nobody likes this state of affairs and it is especially deleterious for children growing up in a setting of constant material and relational instability.

Note also the controversial view that refusing to have sex with or date trans-people is transphobic: if the gender maths change with more genders with different dating preferences emerging and the numerical proportions between genders getting out of balance, the calls for redistribution or regulation may well increase.

Conservatives will decry such change but libertarians should be indifferent towards it. What the heart wants, the heart wants. However, we may then have to face the dilemma between calls for increased regulation and calls for increased redistribution. For some reason, right-libertarians are obsessed with taxes. As a left-libertarian I think taxes are much less severe restrictions on freedom than hard bans on things (would you rather see polyarmory banned or taxed, if you had to choose one?). If the alternative is the system collapsing into either love-authoritarianism or love-anarchy, I would be quite happy to have more love-redistribution.

Even now I am in favor of some love-redistribution, e.g. covering assisted sexuality services for disabled people via public health insurance. In the future we may need more of it, if we wish to preserve love-liberty, so maybe let's rethink society's loathing of those incel ideas.

Happy Love-Liberty Day, everyone!

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This didn't go in the direction I suspected: state encouragement or discouragement of having children. Since the 1950s, in the U.S., everyone has had an opinion about overpopulation or low birth rates but not much has been done about it, leaving the choice completely up to individual couples, on this basis of "it's no one else's business."

I guess maybe in your culture (San Francisco) love has less to do with having kids than it does in my culture (Mormon).

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I love that you said your wife is objectively the best person. I’ve said the same about my husband many times as an example of how you can hold a belief while also acknowledging its irrationality. Sometimes people push back. ‘You mean he’s the best match for you?’ No, I think he is truly the best. Consider the alternative. If he isn’t, I might someday meet someone and realize they are better. I can’t imagine how this could be possible. (Except maybe his almost exact clone that didn’t leave caps loose on soda bottles so that they go flat.) So I really do think he’s the best. But I can do math. I’m not oblivious to the statistical ridiculousness of that statement.

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In my experience, libertarians are all about freedom until some one brings up immigration. Then suddenly it's different.

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So I'm curious, since we're (almost) all nerds here: in your experience (personal or otherwise), what type winds up settling for nerds?

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How would one regulate dating; specifically, how would you detect whether two people are dating ? Regulating e.g. driving is easy: it's pretty obvious when someone is driving a car, vs. when he isn't. But it seems like in order to reliably regulate dating, you'd have to regulate basically every human interaction, which is impractical (though I'm sure China is working on it).

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>Am I joking? The last one yes, but I don’t know about the others. Probably some of these policies would make the world a better place overall, at least as a first-order effect.

I'd rather not, precisely because that's been one of my primary way to wedge the idea that wealth redistribution is wrong amongst normal people. Not to great success, I'll admit, but at least it get awkward aknowledgment instead of me being kicked from polite statist society.

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The person I thought was objectively the best one in the world abused me into severe depression and serious PTSD. Right now I'd happily sign up for more regulated love.

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Any country with below-replacement fertility can no longer regard the status quo as working well enough.

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I can think of one other area of life I’ve been involved in that still operates on the libertarian principle, and where there remain opportunities for unregulated adventure: basic research in theoretical computer science, theoretical physics, and math. (Well, until one gets old enough that one is regularly dealing with funding agencies.) In that case, a plausible explanation is that (1) success and failure are at least somewhat objective (thus setting the stage for adventure) and (2) no one cares enough to regulate the adventure away. Maybe sports and chess feel similar for those immersed in them.

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Seems like we could count the 28% of people who aren't in a relationship as also not satisfied with the current system. (The 95% statistic above is restricted to people who are in a relationship.)

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Feb 14·edited Feb 14

"Maybe it’s not just that love resists regulation, but that it’s becoming progressively less regulated at the same time the economy etc becomes progressively more regulated."

(Epistemic status: Intuition) My immediate response to this is that the state wants to regulate avenues of power. For the majority of human history, Love (marriage, specifically) was substantially important for the transfer of wealth and status not just across generations, but between familial power groups. In the modern (Western) world this feels less true, in fact it's considered generally unseemly to give unfair preference to a member of your family. It's more effective to pull the levers of the economy than to pull the levers of (literal) tribal/familial politics in the present historical moment.

Love gets to be free because the powers that be have nothing to gain by restraining it.

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> This process came for [every freedom] your grandparents held dear...

I'm drawing a blank here. What are some dearly-held freedoms that my grandparents would have had taken away from them, say 30-70 years ago?

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> Maybe this is an overly simple story. There were more regulations on love until very recently - bans on interracial marriage, bans on gay marriage, etc. Maybe it’s not just that love resists regulation, but that it’s becoming progressively less regulated at the same time the economy etc becomes progressively more regulated.

It is an overly simple story. It's actually pretty much the opposite of correct. Sex used to be illegal outside the confines of PIV in marriage, with crimes such as adultery, sodomy, fornication, obscenity, etc, used to control virtually everyone's sexuality in one way or another. You couldn't even send racy letters in the post, thanks to the Comstock laws.

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Beautiful essay, thanks Scott

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Thalidomide was never approved for pregnant women by the US Food and Drug Administration. (It was approved as a cancer treatment--for which it can be quite effective--in 1998, with a black box warning about pregnancy.) Thalidomide was approved by the in Europe and Australia, where it was used widely in pregnancy and resulted in birth defects. Almost all those photos of the kids with the tiny limbs are from Europe, and mainly the United Kingdom, where it was approved early and used quite a lot. The thalidomide babies born in the USA were born to mothers who were not taking a FDA-approved drug, but an import from Europe.

So, um, @Scott Alexander, this is not a great example to use to make your point about the badness of regulation and especially not a great example to use of the badness of the FDA approval process.

Some references here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalidomide_scandal#:~:text=United%20States,-1962%3A%20FDA%20pharmacologist&text=In%20the%20U.S.%2C%20the%20FDA,the%20Richardson%2DMerrell%20Pharmaceuticals%20Co.

https://www.fda.gov/about-fda/fda-history-exhibits/frances-oldham-kelsey-medical-reviewer-famous-averting-public-health-tragedy#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20first%20applications,with%20her%20major%20professor%2C%20E.%20M.%20K.

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I think reproduction is the other huge thing that's a huge deal and is largely unregulated - if it were invented today, you wouldn't just be allowed combine DNA with another person through a sexual encounter and create a new human life in your abdomen. It would never get past a medical ethics board.

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Interestingly, my most recent ending rant on my podcast was about how love should be *more* libertarian https://livingwithinreason.com/p/prenups-should-be-mandatory

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"To a first approximation, the only rule is that you may not seize it by force."

Except people have also tried to get love potions to work, in order to compel the one they love/are attracted to, to return their feelings. There's spells and everything for this, did you ever hear of The Spancel of Death?

Even Wikipedia has a short article on this!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sibella_Cottle

"Sibella Cottle was the mistress of Sir Henry Lynch-Blosse, 7th Baronet (popularly known as Sir Harry; 1749–88) of Balla, County Mayo, Ireland.

...Sir Harry was urged to abandon Cottle and marry a woman of his own class and religion. Cottle reputedly responded by commissioning a powerful love charm, the spancel of death (Irish: an buarach bháis). The spancel has been described as "an unbroken hoop of skin cut with incantations from a corpse across the entire body from shoulder to footsole and wrapped in silk of the colours of the rainbow and used as a spancel to tie the legs of a person to produce certain effects of witchcraft." According to Nally, the love charm was made by Judy Holian, an bhean feasa (a woman of knowledge and wisdom), from the corpse of Harry's illegitimate daughter by another woman. Holian, reputedly a local witch, guaranteed that Sir Harry would be spellbound for life should Cottle apply the spancel to him

It's supposed to be an entire hoop of skin, cut from a corpse in one unbroken round, which with the proper incantations will then bind your lover (or the one you want to be your lover) to you. Other versions say you don't need an entire loop, just a piece of corpse skin and tie it on the person you want.

From Lady Wilde's collection of Irish folklore:

https://www.libraryireland.com/AncientLegendsSuperstitions/Fatal-Love-Charm.php

"A potent love-charm used by women is a piece of skin taken from the arm of a corpse and tied on the person while sleeping whose love is sought. The skin is then removed after some time, and carefully put away before the sleeper awakes or has any consciousness of the transaction. And as long as it remains in the woman's possession the love of her lover will be unchanged. Or the strip of skin is placed under the head to dream on, in the name of the Evil One, when the future husband will appear in the dream."

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A great many marriages are arranged. I believe there's selective pressure for people to be good negotiators. While being a good negotiator is valuable in many ways, it's very important for your grandchildren to have good chances. What exactly might be getting selected for?

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The reason why romantic relationships are one of the last places where "libertarian" ideals remain is because it's one of the few places where coordination of private actors to engage in antisocial behavior doesn't really work. In business, for example, we have extensive antitrust regulations because we saw first-hard what happens with monopolist corporations. Stable relationships are generally one-on-one. Incidentally, this is one of the arguments against polyamory--because all of a sudden you have introduced coordination problems in to romance.

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I enjoyed this post very much overall, but the idea that prostitution has anything to do with love is absurd.

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Well, I've never been in love and never wanted to be in love or in a relationship, so good luck to all you people with this odd impulse for Valentine's Day, but since it's also Ash Wednesday today I'm sticking with that one!

"Centralized government database of who is in a relationship with whom at any given time. You can check the database to make sure your partner isn’t leading a double life."

Given the amount of people cheating, I'm sure they'd lie to the government database as well. Some people may not know their partner is married/in a relationship and so would honestly (as they think) answer that they're in a relationship of two single people, and unless you start a federal bureau of snoops, how are you going to be sure about A is seeing B and also C?

There's an entire sub-reddit for women who are in adulterous relationships, and bewailing that the guy lying to his wife is - shock, horror! - also lying to them about "one day I'll get that divorce and marry you, honey". Some of them are aware that this is a side thing and happy with that, but the amount of "if he doesn't make a decision for definite soon, I'm leaving him" is astonishing. Why be surprised that someone willing to deceive and lie in one intimate relationship is also willing to do the same in another intimate relationship?

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The modest proposal concerning the regulation of dating sounds a bit like the sex that some incels believe that they are entitled to.

Except the incels seem to treat it as the world's problem that they aren't getting any action, while your proposal would make something that the loveless need to get fixed.

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Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails...

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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As with all libertarian consensuses it does ignore the bottom 10%, we probably should provide courses on how to spot domestic violence in high school though with a high level of scepticism about whether they work.

It isn't a huge problem but it isn't negligible there are men with long records of violence against women who continue to date and make people miserable and society should probably intervene to stop that.

Victims should be ignored when it comes removing restraining ordres, it is clear that people frequently make bad choices, that create negative utility for them and people around them.

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Is it state-level regulations or regulations period that is a problem for libertarians? The amount of non-state level regulation on love and relationships in societies where most human beings live (India, China, other south and southeast asian countries, some African tribal societies), is enormous, with parents given authorization to kidnap, drug, and beat their adult children in countries for violating established cultural norms surrounding how to couple up, marry, procreate, have sex, everything in this domain. Countries that implemented any of these very serious constraints and then used the state to protect adult children from the violence of their parents would be an improvement, from the point of view of absolute liberty, but worse, from the point of view of state-level liberty. Which type of society does a libertarian prefer?

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Свободу надо искать не вне себя, а внутри.

В окружающем мире ее нет и быть не может. Она все равно будет лишь иллюзией.

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That the FDA’s perverse over-regulation is hastening the death of the person I love most makes that an apt example.

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Любовь это когда любят оба ,они выбирают место для образа, в данном контексте цифры на рынке ,а люди никак не поймут деяние в полезной форме

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Feb 14·edited Feb 14

It's a shame tax free day varies by person and country, or that might make an ideal Libertarian Day.

As a smoker and moderate drinker, and with taxes in the UK at record levels when we haven't even fought in a World War recently, I'm looking forward to my tax free day some time in November!

(In case anyone is not familiar with the notion, tax free day is the date in the year after which one starts working for oneself rather than the state! )

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I'm not sure that the best day to celebrate "non-aggression" is the one named after a guy who was beaten, tortured, beheaded, buried in secret, dug up again, had his remains paraded around, etc...

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A very nice sentiment, but it also seems cruel to give "the faction with the highest concentration of single men" the holiday associated with relationships.

If I wasn't dating a libertarian girl I've met recently, I'd be filled with cynicism!! haha

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My Brazilian friends swears thay Brazil is so progressive (Id say Woke) that racism even in dating is illegal. And litigable.

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I thought the Woke holiday was Juneteenth (June 19th) rather than MLK Day. Messaging around the latter doesn't seem as woke.

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I always felt the opposite, because of the prohibition of polygamy. Not polyamory, where everyone is presumably fully happy with the arrangement, or non-consensual polygamy, where a repressive culture forces a woman into a marriage, but consensual polygamy, where, eg, each wife would prefer to have the husband to herself, but is choosing this as the best option because she gets a higher status husband. With modern norms about love, as a person gets higher status, they get to have more desirable partners, but there's a ceiling where you get the most desirable partner, and that's it. If you apply the normal logic of capitalism, you should be able to trade your status for whatever arrangement the other parties will freely agree to, based on what each party can offer and what other options are available. Monogamy is like a salary cap for love.

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Rare W for feminism. We take sexual autonomy much more seriously now (spousal rape is a thing, marriage alliances aren’t). And thankfully women really care about sexual (and reproductive) autonomy! Too bad they don’t feel the same about other kinds of freedom.

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Incidentally, regarding libertarianism, the Libertarian Party seems to have split: https://thirdpartywatch.com/2024/02/13/1489/ (that particular story doesn't say it, but these appear to be all former LP state organizations, to my understanding representing the moderates who didn't agree with the Mises Caucus takeover.)

Anyone know more?

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One of my favorite posts of yours.

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I don’t understand- didn’t Scott publish an anti libertarian FAQ? Is he or isn’t he a libertarian?

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You reminded me of how fucking lucky I am. Thanks.

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How long has love had this property? Because as I understand it, for most of history, much/most of the world has/had arranged marriages, where choice was at least strongly constrained. Not necessarily by the state, but still by institutions with significant coercive power.

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Same approach could and should be made about having kids. Marriage mistakes can not only ruin the partners’ lives, it most definitely has negative impact to children. So, let’s make some rules about having kids:

•Nobody is allowed to produce children without a permit. Take several classes and pass a test showing that you understand basic child-rearing and have the minimum resources to do it.

•Six month waiting period after getting the permit.

•Centralized government database of children you have produced.

•Kid licenses can be revoked for serious crimes – e.g., abuse, persistent alcoholism/drug use, violent convictions, neglect, etc.

•If you produce children without permit, then you are subject to sterilization so you can’t keep foisting your mistakes onto society.

Am I joking? No. Having children is a privilege and responsibility; it is not a “right”. I'm sure many will say how cold or unfeeling this is. But because almost everyone reproduce doesn't mean that they should. Take a hard look at the foster system if you'd like some evidence.

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I think most of the world still thinks of love as a magical thing. Like, literally a magic force, operating far beyond petty laws and regulations. If you tried to ban love, it would only become stronger.

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Feb 14·edited Feb 14

I love this post.

- An explicitly freedom-oriented holiday seems great.

- Romance does indeed stand out as especially free in the ways you pointed out.

- I really like the candor about the gut feeling, and I applaud you for saying it loud and clear.

- I think you displayed the virtues of Lightness and Evenness superlatively well here.

- From Wikipedia: "The influence of pederasty on Greek culture of these periods was so pervasive that it has been called 'the principal cultural model for free relationships between citizens.'" Hm. Maybe Libertarian Love Day should come with a "ok but don't repeal all the age-of-consent laws" disclaimer.

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Ha. Your “except prostitution” completely blew up the libertarian analogy. And you further blew it up by the suggestion that some additional regulation would be in order. You are not wrong. Congratulations on your graduation from Libertarian to Conservative!

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I don't have a response to any very specific part of this essay, but I have a lot of feelings about the general vibe of it since I often struggle with the idea that the way I'm fundamentally inclined (and perhaps socialized) to think about love involves a making decisions according to a far higher standard of honesty and truth and... organicness?... than other major things I seek in life, including (and particularly) my professional career. For instance, I can make a decision to take a particular job -- and be very open about the decision, possibly even to the people who hire me -- based on the fact that the harshness of the job market makes it most strategic for me to settle for that particular job. Something deep within me dictates that I can't make love live decisions this way, much less admit to a partner (or even myself) that I settled for them, even if deciding to settle in my love life is equally rational to deciding to settle in my professional life.

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I have a theory that if a famous person’s tinder activity leaked, and the data showed they always swiped left on a particular race, there would in fact be some attempts to get them cancelled. I don’t think love is a safe space from cancel mobs.

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Marriage is easy to regulate, since we don't count it as "marriage" unless the state signs off on it for property rights and child custody and taxes and such.

Sex is difficult to regulate since you have to do an awful lot of invasion of privacy, but it can be managed and has been.

"Relationships" and "dating" are almost impossible to regulate without enormous control over freedom of association to the level of "women are not allowed to hang out with unrelated men without a male relative present". You can't control them without control the ability of people to interact.

"Love" is an emotion. You can only prevent people from expressing it, not prevent them from feeling it.

This has nothing to do with adhering to some magical conception of "love". It's just that some of the things you're talking about are very hard to regulate!

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Michel Houllebecq famously made this comparison in making the exact opposite point:

"In our societies, sex represents a second system of differentiation, independent from money. It behaves as a system of differentiation at least as merciless as money. The impacts of these two systems are actually equivalent. Sexual liberalism creates a phenomenon of acute pauperization, just like wild liberalism does. Some make love everyday; some five or six times in their life or never. Some make love to dozens of women, some never do. It is called “market law”.

In an economic system where lay-offs are prohibited, everyone more or less finds their place. In a sexual system where adultery is prohibited, everyone more or less manages to find a bed partner. In a liberal economic system, some build huge fortunes; some endure unemployment and misery. In a perfect liberal sex system, some have a varied and exciting erotic life; some are reduced to masturbation and loneliness. Economic liberalism is broadening the field of struggle, broadening it to all the stages of life and to all social classes"

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Marriage is regulated, and courtship and dating have strong informal social norms associated with them. These have all changed fairly significantly over the past 80 years.

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I don't have a girlfriend. Every mention of valentines day makes me sad :(

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Are you sure on the "Most female murder victims are killed by their romantic partners" thing? I swear I saw stats for the UK in which like 40% of female murder victims were killed by a partner or ex-partner, and it was only a majority if you ignored those where the killer wasn't known. While this sounds reasonable I think the police are aware that romantic partners are a good bet to demand alibis of, and the unsolved are disproportionately likely to be people who weren't so obvious to law enforcement.

The closest I could find quickly on Google was https://aoav.org.uk/2023/london-murder-capital-a-year-of-violent-deaths-examined/ which says 31% of women murdered in London in 2023 were killed by a partner or ex partner (n=29, so 9 killed by an (ex)partner).

I admit this tweak is hardly fatal to your overall hypothesis.

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>Three month waiting period for marriage.

FIY, Russia (and maybe other post-soviet countries) has form of this - one-month period between making official petition for marriage and actual marriage conclusion

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Isn't regulation for marriage and relationships a core function of most religious organizations and churches? Almost literally the rules for love/relationship regulation above

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This reminded me of G. K. Chesterton, from his book Orthodoxy:

>This is the first principle of democracy: that the essential things in men are the things they hold in common, not the things they hold separately...Falling in love is more poetical than dropping into poetry. The democratic contention is that government (helping to rule the tribe) is a thing like falling in love, and not a thing like dropping into poetry. It is not something analogous to playing the church organ, painting on vellum, discovering the North Pole (that insidious habit), looping the loop, being Astronomer Royal, and so on. For these things we do not wish a man to do at all unless he does them well. It is, on the contrary, a thing analogous to writing one's own love-letters or blowing one's own nose. These things we want a man to do for himself, even if he does them badly. I am not here arguing the truth of any of these conceptions; I know that some moderns are asking to have their wives chosen by scientists, and they may soon be asking, for all I know, to have their noses blown by nurses. I merely say that mankind does recognize these universal human functions, and that democracy classes government among them. In short, the democratic faith is this: that the most terribly important things must be left to ordinary men themselves—the mating of the sexes, the rearing of the young, the laws of the state.

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> The woke have MLK’s birthday.

This is a little out of touch I think. Woke people nowadays tend to quietly downplay and ignore MLK, as his support for nonviolence and colorbind policies runs counter to what wokism advocates. The woke holidays would be things like Juneteenth, black history month, the International Transgender Day of Visibility, and "Conspicuously Not Celebrating Columbus Day" day.

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In Australia, you *do* need to give one month's notice before marrying (https://www.ag.gov.au/families-and-marriage/marriage/get-married). 1n 1984, the Australian government waived this requirement for Elton John.

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As many others have pointed out, it's only recently that love has been deregulated, and only in the West among the non-religious. The consequences have been disastrous. Cheating is rampant, with 20% admitting to having cheated on a partner. 58% of black American children live without their fathers. Half of first marriages end in divorce, with even higher rates for second and third marriages. This serial monogamy severely worsens inequality: the hottest people keep dating the hottest people of the other gender (why settle for someone uglier if all the beautiful people will be single again in a year?), instead of settling down and allowing everyone else to have a shot. It's hardly a surprise that people are marrying and having children later, and that more people are involuntarily celibate.

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I'm a temporary resident on a partner visa, so I'm subject to regulations very similar to the ones you describe. This article makes me more envious than I can describe, and I hope you appreciate your good fortune.

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Parent-child relationships are very unregulated too, and I think the case for having "parenting licenses" is much better than the one for Scott's imagined licenses to date. There's no restriction at all on who can father or become pregnant with a child, and it's really not hard to get out from under the requirement that kids attend school. I homeschooled my daughter thru 7th grade, and it was quite easy to get permission to do that, and nobody ever checked up on me. All states have required vaxes for kids, but if you child doesn't go to school or camp it's easy to get away with not getting them (though I have no objections to vaxes for kids, and my daughter got them all.)

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I found the right woman (or rather she found me, picked me up out of the gutter, cleaned me up, and cares for me for the past 37 years) on the second go-round. My brother swung and missed twice and is unwilling to swing a third time for fear of striking out. I figure you win some, you lose some, you get rained out once in a while, but you have to suit up and play every day.

Anyway, love is weird at best and only mildly truly describable. (I knew a guy who fell in love and got married 7 times by the time he was 35. Seriously. Died at age 50, I think from natural causes.)

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After thinking about it for a while, I had an epiphany. It's obvious what the libertarian holiday is: 4/20, the holiday not recognized by any government which exists to honor of an intoxicating plant-derived substance of dubious legality.

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>Centralized government database of who is in a relationship with whom at any given time. You can check the database to make sure your partner isn’t leading a double life.

Isn't this basically describing marriage records? When I got married, we had to go to the County Probate Court, and sign a document saying that we weren't already married, weren't first cousins, weren't infected with syphilis, and a few other things that seemed very quaint but were probably significant hazards in the 1800s or whatever. You're free to love whoever you want, but as soon as you want to attach any legal or economic meaning to your love, we regulate the shit out of it.

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"Maybe I’m being too pessimistic. 95% of people describe themselves as at least “satisfied” with their romantic relationship, and 60% as “extremely satisfied”.

...Scott, let me boost your pessimism: You are forgetting the selection effect. The unsatisfied have divorced their partners and are not any longer in the institution. Divorce rates approach 50 percent, and not only in the US. Plus, cohabitation is increasingly replacing marriage in many countries. And cohabitation has an even higher break-up rate than marriage (although data on this is wobbly and not as good as on marriage break-ups).

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For the longest time, I've wanted to write a story about a couple that gets their marriage license revoked.

I wanted some sort of gut-punch ending, but I still haven't managed to figure out what that should look like.

We have this strong modern Western taboo against regulating people's love lives. But... what happens if that taboo is violated? There seems to have been a long history of arranged marriages in some cultures, and marriages were seen as a coming together of families, not just of individuals. Prioritizing love in marriage is a very time and culture specific value. So maybe nothing beyond an increased feeling of quiet desperation would be the result of such a shift. Or an increase in non-marital romances, akin to courtly love.

I agree that some people's beliefs about consent in romance seems to contrast sharply with some people's understanding of consent in economic transactions.

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I don't think MLK day is a woke holiday. Juneteenth feels much more like a woke holiday.

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Another domain in which Western thinking tends to be very libertarian is religious self-determination. Even if we knew we could increase utility by 1,000,000 hedons by imposing a limitation on the number of hours people can spend worshipping in order to divert them into more economically productive activities, we still wouldn't do it. Imagine that we could save an extra 10,000 lives in the third world over the next five years by simply forcing the Catholics to practice one fewer of their 12 (or whatever it is) rites, or attending worship services for five fewer minutes. Maybe, in the aggregate, that would create enough economic value in productive labor hours that it would generate a big enough foreign aid budget to save another several thousand lives per year (or even if it wouldn't, just stipulate for the purposes of this hypothetical example that it would). But nonetheless, on the altar of religion, we sacrifice humanity. How very human.

(Of course there are plenty of exceptions to this: many Muslim-majority countries make some or all non-Islamic religious practices illegal. But by the same token, love has its exceptions too: gay and interracial marriage once was illegal, and in many countries will cause you to be murdered.)

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I could put up a lot of blah blah blah words and scientific evidence to demonstrate this point, but I think really you either want to come to the pool to drink water for enormous benefit or don't and I'm not going to convince anyone that technology writ large is in fact the actual problem.

and not *just* a problem for relationships, but the reason cities themselves don't work, the reason we have no place for the 70 IQs, the reason we have homeless problems that are only getting worse, the reason the environment is starting to not just break down but create extreme human interaction so forth.

And while yes, some advancements have been great particularly some in the medical fields and some have been great in creating solves, it's become incredibly irresponsible, blame whomever or what you like but the glaring pattern to me on a multitude of different social and health problems comes down to this man's simple advice.

So, I'll just let this guy state what is obvious in my mind.

https://youtu.be/wN6qPJm1hmg?si=tSj-0OndMupOEwip

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Best Valentine's day post ever, not much else to add.

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Thank you for that harrowing look at a hypothetical regulated dating market.

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Looking for a perfect someone to love is backwards. Thankfully most people jump into relationships based on proximity and then learn to show love best for that partner.

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I *am* fascinated by the Consent Warriors on the left who so passionately argue for the importance of explicit and detailed consent in this one area, while otherwise default to "just do what you're told!".

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"In every fantasy book, there’s the Magical Hidden Valley with the Mystical Ring Of Protection that means the forces of the Dark Lord can never reach them. Even as corruption creeps over everything else, the Magical Hidden Valley stays pure and beautiful. "

Oh! You mean like New Hampshire!

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Off topic, I know, but

"The woke have MLK’s birthday."

MLK was a liberal - the exact opposite of woke. He opposed the woke of his time (ie denouncing the Nation of Islam in his Letter From Birmingham Jail, and making speeches against riots), and his program was in favor of racial reconciliation rather than conflict. In general, I don't think the woke should have any of the other days - not Juneteenth, not Susan B. Anthony day, nor any other liberal holiday.

(end rant)

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Feb 16·edited Feb 16

> lots of dictatorial countries regulate what kinds of art are permissible in a way even they don’t try to regulate love

Uh, what? Gay marriage is illegal in 160 countries. Incest is illegal in basically all of them. In many countries you can be executed just for having gay sex.

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Feb 16·edited Feb 16

In most of the post you seem to talk about restrictions on liberty, but in the first footnote you also mention other interventions, such as subsidies. The big one is marriage. We do have that database. You can just hold a wedding and demand that your social circle treat you as married, but virtually everyone allows the state to define marriage. It has always seemed weird to me that there was a campaign for the state to allow gay marriage, rather than for the state to recognize something that precedes the state.

Kontextmaschine on other interventions:

https://kontextmaschine.tumblr.com/post/163815392913/so-the-government-issued-gfs-thing-going-around

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Sure I won’t be the first to point out that mlk’s birthday is the opposite of woke. Juneteenth is more like it.

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Excuse me, but I feel like you have the timeline on love and its regulation completely backwards.

You paint the picture that most everything used to be free and unregulated until the arrival of the modern state introduced all these legal regulations and ruined it all. I think this is false and ahistorical on almost every dimension but maybe most obviously when it comes to romantic love. As you know – but decided to omit – many forms of love used to be strongly regulated just a couple decades ago. In the not-so-distant past even the most classically-liberal states spent centuries outlawing for example homosexual love, persecuting and imprisoning lovers for the crime of infringing on the regulations on love. The same is true for interracial love. In the US the criminalization of interracial love was only slowly lifted after WWII.

And those are just some of the most blatant examples of the “written” law. There are also social conventions on love that used to be so strong that in their effects they were almost as binding as legal conventions. For example love between different religions or denominations. As a good catholic your spouse was supposed to be catholic – and vice-versa as a good protestant – otherwise your family might have disinherited and your community expelled you. Similarly regarding social class.

In general, romantic love historically never used to be particularly important when it comes to forming social relationships. Institutions like marriage used to be purely economic affairs. As far as I know, romantic love used to be a luxury afforded only to aristocracy, and for the masses, even in the West, romantic love only became a relevant qualification for relationships after WWII – i.e. when the masses became economically secure enough to afford such luxuries themselves.

So no, romantic love did not use to be this unregulated utopia that everyone freely engaged in. For most people for most of the time romantic love used to be almost irrelevant. And whenever it was relevant, it was heavily regulated, regarding heterosexuality, race, denomination and class. So historically, love used to be unfree and highly regulated, and ironically only the advance of the modern state liberated love throughout the 20th century.

This may seem contradictory but I don’t think it is; it can be explained sociologically. Premodern societies ran on all kinds of interpersonal differentiations (social classes, trades, religions etc.). Modern societies with their modern states, however, run on “functional” differentiations, which – among other things – heavily rely on the distinction between the private and the public. Romantic love is therefore considered private and thus non-public and thus shouldn’t be concerned by the functions of the state. So empirically one might say: the more modern the state, the freer the love. (And by the way, it takes quite a strong state to stop a community from lynching its members for impeding on their "communal regulations" on love.)

I know your post wasn’t meant as a history class, but rather itself as a romantic reflection on the concept of romantic love. But still, I feel like your post, in order to work, presupposes a very ahistorical version of history.

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The issuance of marriage licenses, and regulations involving divorce and child support are designed to make the whole thing safer and fairer: you can't get left in the lurch with a child; you're committing yourself in marriage in a way that is complicated to get out of. Adultery laws are still on the books.

It's true that we don't assign a woman to every man, or vice versa, out of an effort to make things fair; but laws against polygamy go a long way toward bringing about fairness. Beyond a certain point, there isn't much that the state can do, as there is no way to make sure that everyone ends up with, say, one of the 50% most desirable partners. The institution that traditionally did the regulating was the family, but their job was to insure the most desirable partners for their own offspring, not to insure society-wide optimization.

I also don't think it's true that everything else has gotten less free as love has gotten more free. We used to have a military draft, and Harry Truman threatened to draft striking workers into the army. https://www.trumanlibrary.gov/library/public-papers/125/special-message-congress-urging-legislation-industrial-peace. That would be way off the Overton Window now, similar to the love regulations Scott suggested.

Driving by 80-year-olds is dangerous, but we mostly leave it to the family level to decide when the patriarch needs to give up the keys. Guns are legal, although regulated.

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I'm pretty sure that waiting periods for marriages are the global standard, and the US is an outlier in allowing you to marry someone on a whim during a drunken Vegas night.

At least *my* gut instinct doesn't tell me that these waiting times are encroaching on our humanity.

If you'd talked about waiting times to date, that would be a different story

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It occurs to me that happiness/mental health, physical beauty, and non-monetary accomplishment are other areas where we largely leave people to their own devices. On reflection, would we say that anything not mediated by money is left largely unregulated and un-redistributed? It seems like all the advocacy for regulation on the left has focused on the economy, and thus we haven't had a need for fairness on other fronts drummed into us for the last several hundred years.

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This is probably not a new suggestion at all, but I've never seen it, so...

Wouldn't it be possible to combine dating docs and matchmakers (like in the orthodox Jewish system described in the describable dating preferences post)? Like, if a community has a dating doc directory, then there would also be one or more people in the community who read all the dating docs and suggest people to each other.

(I think this might work best if there's also a strong social norm that if you've been suggested a match, you should at least go on one date.)

FWIW I wish this were a thing

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Let's say we did implement those laws in the US. Will it increase the number of happy relationships, lower divorce rates, increase TFR?

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Great post, thank you!

This is my first time commenting on substack, I hope this level of "necroposting" is fine.

Love is not a disaster, it just has a high amplitude. Regulating things because of low lows is how you destroy the high highs in life.

To be honest, I think love is on the way out as well, due to a hedonic approach to existence, people increasingly evaluate things by the extent which they make them feel good. Did this kind of thinking not infect you a little when you started pointing out the negatives of love?

Recently I hear that dating apps feel like "job interviews", and that people want relationships "without bullshit", and that one should "run away" at the sign of any red flags. Now hear me out, what if this change is caused by indifference? Sex is no longer sacred, and dating is not emotional connection but rather a trade. This would explain the support for sexual freedom and the casual reactions to cheating and polyamory. It seems like we're lacking emotional depth, as if people are becoming more simple in a way that I can only describe as apathetic or nihilistic.

Love is great because it's real, it makes myself feel alive, at least. I'm afraid that superstimuli are beginning to exhaust not only sexual drives but the concept of love as well (and the difference between the two is no longer recognized by many?). We like reactivity (think "reaction videos" on Youtube, or trolls in online comments getting an reaction out of people), but if we get our reactions from shock humor, brutal videos, oversexualized animations, ASMR, and 3D dating games, then I'm afraid everything most things in life might lose their emotional impact (and that those who don't consume these things will be put off by the vulgarity of those who require strong stimuli)

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"Three month waiting period for marriage."

Seems like there is not such a long delay but there are still some places having adopted the idea in principle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banns_of_marriage

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Mar 16·edited Mar 16

the difference between driving and love in your framing is the externalities

and even love can have externalities, that's why for example:

- you can't have sex in public

- parenthood/education is subsidized

there are even social norms codified as laws like what contracts for gamete donation or asset allocation between parents is legally enforceable even if all parties agreed to it (which my libertarian intuitions say that it seems bad)

I'm leaning towards libertarianism a lot (except post-AGI), but I think a negative externality is an aggression (and mayyybe freeriding is stealing or something???)

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Es ist interessant, dass der Autor vorschlägt, dass der Valentinstag die Feier für Libertäre sein könnte. Er argumentiert, dass die Art und Weise, wie Menschen über Liebe denken, das letzte Überbleibsel dessen ist, wie Libertäre über alles denken. Liebe funktioniert nach dem Prinzip der Nichtaggression, wobei die einzige Regel ist, dass man sie nicht mit Gewalt ergreifen darf. Der Autor diskutiert auch die Ungerechtigkeit und Unsicherheit der Liebe und schlägt vor, dass gewisse Regulierungen, ähnlich wie beim Führerschein, in Betracht gezogen werden könnten. Übrigens wollte ich eine Seite zur Bewertung von Online-Glücksspielen empfehlen: https://maichn.com/bonus/

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Eva Illouz in "Why Love Hurts: a Sociological Explanation" makes an interesting case for how rituals around getting together were socially regulated and how the loosening of those traditions (or the fall of mesalliance as a concept), while liberating, opened the way for experiencing heartbreak as all the more painful.

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Scott Alexander's "Love And Liberty" makes a compelling case for why love should be considered a bastion of libertarian values, untouched by the regulatory and redistributive impulses that govern other aspects of our lives. Through humorous yet thought-provoking hypothetical regulations on love, Alexander illustrates the absurdity of applying the same principles we accept in other domains to our romantic lives, thereby underscoring the unique position love occupies in human society. By the way, I wanted to recommend a site for you to play Gates of Olympus: https://gatesofolympus.app/.

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