Sometimes, when person A claims to love person B, some might say "No, person A, you don't really love person B." Often, they will back up this claim by pointing to aspects of person A's behavior as "proof" - i.e. person A is not jealous when person B speaks with members of person A's sex; or person A does not sacrifice a job opportunity because person B is opposed to the employer's ethical practices; or so on. Does it make sense to tell someone that they do not really love someone they believe they love? After all, love is an emotion, and people external to person A's mind cannot properly judge the emotions person A actually feels. So what justification is there for judging a person's love on the basis of their behavior (setting aside cases where a person regularly beats or abuses someone they claim to love)?

You say that love is an emotion, and in some sense we can grant that. But saying it suggests that love is a feeling , and that, in turn, suggests that it's like a warm sensation in one's tummy -- something that we can simply detect by introspection and that we can't (or can't easily) be wrong about. But it's more complicated than that. If I love someone, I can still have moments when I feel angry at them, for example. But my momentary anger -- a non-loving feeling -- isn't the same as not loving them. Love is, among other things, a complicated set of dispositions. Some of them are dispositions to feel a certain way in certain situations, and others are dispositions to behave in certain ways. I might be momentarily angry with my daughter, for example, but it might be true that if anything were to happen to her, I would be beside myself with grief. I might also be willing to make considerable sacrifices for her well-being. I might worry about her, take time to check up on her, and do all of this not...

I was talking to a girl about my opinions on love, and on the topic of polygamy I told her that theoretically (it's hard enough falling in love with one person!) I could see myself with two women that I completely loved. She told me that I confused her because she could not square that statement with a previous statement where I spoke of my want for true love. I told her that I didn't see any contradiction between those two sentiments. Maybe if I understood why people are opposed to polygamy I would have an easier time defending my opinion on the subject. So why is it said by so many people that it is impossible to fall in love with more than one person at the same time? When I ask these people why this is so they can not give me a clear answer. Can you provide a clear explanation for why love must (or allegedly must) be exclusive to only one sexual partner?

I think the reason people can't give you a clear answer is that there isn't one. It just seems to be a fact that some people really can love more than one person deeply at the same time, and I'll confess to finding it puzzling that this would puzzle anyone. As for opposition to polygamy, it would be hard to make the case that it's simply wrong. It would be particularly hard to do it a priori, without looking in some detail at polygamous societies. There are some worries one might well have (for example: worries about polygamous arrangements that favor men over women) but that's different from saying that all polygamous arrangements are wrong. None of this is a recommendation for what anyone should do in a society like contemporary America. Marriage and romantic relationships fit into formal and informal social institutions in a complicated way, and not every change we might contemplate is liable to work out well. Once again, there's no saying a priori. I'd add that "falling in love" isn't always...

Is it immoral to commit adultery in a marriage when one of the spouses doesn't fulfill the other spouse?

"Fulfill" is a bit of a weasel word, isn't it? Suppose one partner would like to make love every night. The other, less libidinous spouse is more a two-or-three time a week type. We might say that the first spouse is "unfulfilled," but that sounds like a really poor excuse for adultery. If the lack of "fulfillment" amount to some deep incompatibility, a good question to ask first might be: have the partners in the marriage talked about what's not working? Can it be fixed? If the answer really seems to be no, then the next obvious question is whether the marriage is worth saving. Life is complicated, of course and blanket generalizations don't do justice to the complexity of people's relationships. But the old question: "How would I feel if the tables were turned?" is always a good one to ask when we're trying to decide if we're acting rightly. It's not just an old bromide; it gets at something pretty deep in our notions of right and wrong.

I have just found out today that the man I have been dating for 6 months is mildly autistic. I had no idea about this until just a few hours ago, so this realization left me shocked. I understand autism and that it is nothing like mental retardation, or anything to that extent. But still I feel like I am doing something morally wrong by continuing to date him. Should I end the relationship because it isn't fair to him, seeing as he may not fully understand his feelings or mine? Or should I continue the relationship because his autism is only mild? Please let me know what you think, I am completely torn and cannot figure out whether I am doing something horribly wrong or not.

And... as someone with a close relative who is on the high-functioning end of the autistic continuum, I'd like to add Tony Attwood's website and books to the list of recommendations. But I would agree emphatically with Louise: it's a mistake to think that autistic people are unaware of others' feelings, or incapable of empathy. And I really can't see that you'd be doing anything morally wrong at all by continuing the relationship. Having Asperger's or high-functioning autism doesn't make someone morally defective, and it doesn't mean they can't care deeply about other people. What Louise and Eddy and Peter have said is much more like it. This isn't to say that autism spectrum conditions can't complicate relationships. But we could say the same things about many traits of personality and character that have nothing to do with autism. Few of us are perfect; people with autism just have a diagnosis.

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