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Title: A Preliminary Study of the Emotion of Love between the Sexes

Author: Sanford Bell

Release date: March 5, 2009 [eBook #28251]
Most recently updated: January 4, 2021

Language: English

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By Sanford Bell, Fellow in Clark University.

The emotion of love between the sexes has as yet received[Pg 325] no thorough scientific treatment. No writer so far as I can find has treated it from a genetic standpoint. The literature upon the subject is therefore meager. In his recent treatise upon “The Psychology of the Emotions,” Ribot[2] remarks: “The sex-instinct, the last in chronological order with man and the higher animals, gives rise to the emotion of love with its numerous individual varieties. Most psychologists have been very sparing of details where it is concerned, and one might mention certain voluminous treatises which contain no mention of it. Is this through exaggerated delicacy? Or is it because the authors think that their place has been usurped by the novelists who have so obstinately confined themselves to the study of this passion? But the novelist's mode of analysis is different from the psychological mode, and does not exclude it.” This author then devotes one chapter of eleven pages to the treatment of the sexual instinct, which includes [Pg 326] what he has to say upon sex-love. Brief as this treatment is, it is valuable, both for the facts it presents and for the problems it suggests. Havelock Ellis, who has perhaps done more than any other investigator in the field of the normal Psychology of Sex says in his most recent work:[3] “It is a very remarkable fact that although for many years past serious attempts have been made to elucidate the psychology of sexual perversions, little or no endeavor has been made to study the psychologic development of the normal sexual emotions. Nearly every writer seems either to take for granted that he and his readers are so familiar with all the facts of normal sex psychology that any detailed statement is altogether uncalled for, or else he is content to write a few introductory phrases, mostly made up from anatomic, philosophic and historical work.

“Yet it is unreasonable to take normal phenomena for granted here as in any other region of medicine. A knowledge of such phenomena is as necessary here as physiology is to pathology or anatomy to surgery. So far from the facts of normal sex development, sex emotions and sex needs being uniform and constant, as is assumed by those who consider their discussion unnecessary, the range of variation within fairly normal limits is immense, and it is impossible to meet with two individuals whose records are nearly identical.

“There are two fundamental reasons why the endeavor should be made to obtain a broad basis of clear information on the subject. In the first place, the normal phenomena give the key to the abnormal, and the majority of sexual perversions, including even those that are most repulsive, are but exaggerations of instincts and emotions that are germinal in normal human beings. In the second place, what is normal cannot be determined until the sexual life of a large number of healthy individuals is known, and until the limits of normal sexuality are known the physician is not in a position to lay down any reasonable rules of sexual hygiene.”

Although very short, the analysis of the sex passions in adults by Herbert Spencer[4] in a part of one section in his “Principles of Psychology,” is one of the best. Bain[5] devotes one chapter to the Tender Emotion which he makes include Sex-love, the parental feelings, the benevolent affection, gratitude, sorrow, admiration and esteem. A very few pages are given to sex-love proper. Very suggestive paragraphs bearing either directly or indirectly upon the subject are to be found in [Pg 327] the works of such writers as Moll, Sergi, Mantegazza, James, Janet, Delboeuf, Feré, Boveri, Kiernan, Hartmann, Dessoir, Fincke and others. There is a vast amount of literature upon the pathological phases of the subject which is to be considered in another chapter.

The analyses thus far given by scientists are limited to the emotion as it is manifested in the adult. A few writers have referred to it in dealing with the psychology of adolescence, but in this connection refer to it as one of the many ways in which the adolescent spirit shows its intensity, turbulence and capriciousness. I know of no scientist who has given a careful analysis of the emotion as it is seen in the adolescent. It is true that it has been the chosen theme of the poet, romancer and novelist. But in the products of such writers we may look for artistic descriptions of the emotion and for scenes and incidents that very truly portray its nature; we have no right to expect a scientific analysis.

Adults need only to recall their own youth or to observe even briefly our grammar and high school boys and girls, to be convinced that love between the sexes is one of the emotions that become conspicuously apparent in early adolescence. This is what might reasonably be expected since the emotion is derived from the sex instinct, and pubescence marks the period of rapid acceleration in the growth of the sex organs. With the increase in size and vigor of the reproductive organs there comes the strong impulse for the organs to function. Before civilization developed the system of sex inhibitions that are considered an essential part of the ethical habits of our young people, the impulse to function was not repressed and pubescence marked the beginning of the distinctively sexual experience of both sexes. This was true of primitive peoples, and is generally true of the lower races that are living to-day. It is, however, not limited to these races. A very large percentage of both sexes of the civilized races begin their sexual life during early adolescence. This is particularly true of the male half of the races. The system of sex inhibitions which has gradually been developed by civilization has been along the line of evolution and has been doing away with promiscuity, polygamy and polyandry; it has been establishing monogamy and postponing marriage until a period of greater physiological and psychological maturity of both sexes. This same inhibition of early sex functioning has lead to an increase in the prevalence of such substitutes as masturbation, onanism, pederasty, etc. Such facts bear upon the physiological results of inhibition. On the psychological side are to be mentioned courtship and those sex irradiations that have so profoundly influenced art, literature, religion, polite society, sports and industry. [Pg 328] Many of the pathological sex psychoses, such as love for the same sex, erotopathia, sexual anæsthesia, etc., are to be explained, at least in part, by reference to the results of these social inhibitions trying to establish themselves.

The emotion of sex-love, so plainly traceable to the reproductive instinct, has its evolution in each normal individual. It develops through various stages as do other instincts. It does not make its appearance for the first time at the period of adolescence, as has been thought. Extended and varied experience in the public schools has furnished me with very favorable opportunities for making observations upon children who were allowed to mix freely regardless of sex. Most of the observations were made in schools which, with very few exceptions, had outdoor recesses during which the plays and games brought both sexes together under no restraint other than the ordinary social ones with perhaps some modifications by the particular regimen of the school concerned. The observations relative to the subject of love between the sexes were begun fifteen years ago. The first observations were made incidentally and consisted mainly of those love affairs between children, that needed my attention as one officially concerned. However, many were unquestionably innocent and harmless. My observations have not been limited to children under school conditions. About one-third of the number of cases which I have personally observed have been concerning children who were under the ordinary social or industrial conditions. During the past fifteen years, from time to time, I have collected as many as eight hundred cases observed by myself. In addition to these I have seventeen hundred cases as returns from a syllabus which I circulated among the students in my pedagogy and psychology classes at the Northern Indiana Normal School, at Valparaiso, Ind., in 1896. The syllabus is as follows:

I. Love between children of about the same age and of opposite sex. Give as completely as you can the details of any such cases you know of; age of each child; length of time the love continued; whether it was mutual; what broke it up; any signs of jealousy; any expressions of love such as confessions, caresses, gifts, etc.; any ideas of marriage; actions in presence of each other free or shy, when alone, when in the presence of others; any tendency of either child to withhold demonstrations and be satisfied to love at a distance; any other details you may have noticed.

II. Love between children and those of opposite sex who are much older. Give complete details on such points as indicated in I, with whatever differences the disparity in age would naturally make. [Pg 329]

III. Give fully, frankly, and as accurately as you can the details of your own childish love affairs.

IV. Give your name (this may be left blank), age, and sex.

360 people reported more than 1,700 cases. With few exceptions those who reported had had experience in teaching. 355 gave accounts of their own childish love affairs. The other five stated that they did not recall any such experience in their own lives. The 1,700 cases include the confessions. Added to the 800 cases of my own collection there are in all more than 2,500 cases that form the basis of this study.

It will be seen that the syllabus calls for data of three kinds, viz., concerning (1) observed love between children of opposite sex about the same in age, (2) observed love between persons of opposite sex with disparity in ages, (3) personal confessions. The first two kinds of data were obtained by the objective method, while the last is obtained through retrospection. Having both observations and confessions many errors that could not otherwise be detected are eliminated since the two classes of material act, to a degree, as mutual controls. Each kind of data according to the first named classification has its particular virtue. The confessions (1) exhibit the continuity in the development of the emotion during the life-span of the individual as he sees it himself (enough cases (355) were given to make a reasonable allowance for individual variations); (2) they indicate the general prevalence of the emotion during childhood; (3) they reinforce observation in the same way that introspection always reinforces the objective method of study. In estimating the value of these confessions one must be mindful of the common defect of most auto-biographical statements, viz., that they are influenced by the almost irresistible tendency to write about one's self in a literary way and so touch plain facts as to make them less prosaic. The observations help us in eliminating this element of error. The data concerning the love that children have for adults of the opposite sex throw valuable light upon the nature of jealousy in children as it is much accentuated in these cases. They also show the effect of forcing the development of an emotion by a stimulus that is chronologically prior to the normal period of development. In the cases showing the love of the adult for a child are revealed facts bearing upon some forms of sexual perversion. In these cases the child is used as a means of escape for suppressed love. Love that normally should go out to an adult, is through some real or supposed necessity suppressed until it finally seeks quiescence through discharge upon a child or pet animal. This is not infrequent among women whose relatively passive role decreed by nature in love affairs has been exaggerated [Pg 330] by society. The observations concerning love between children of opposite sex and about the same age aid us in determining the phase of the emotion's development that normally belongs to any given period of life; i. e., there are many observations upon children who are five years old, or six, seven, eight, nine, etc., respectively, and these reveal the nature of the emotion that normally belongs to those years. The various kinds of observations extend over the entire periods of infancy, childhood, and into adolescence, and are very well distributed in number among the years of these periods, although more cases were reported for the years 4 to 8, and 12 to 15, both inclusive, than for the years of the period between 8 and 12. The reason for this becomes clearly apparent later.

Analysis of the data contained in all of this material reveals the fact that the emotion of sex-love may appear in the life of the child as early as the middle of the third year. From its appearance at this early age it can be traced in its development through five more or less well marked stages whose time limits are as follows: the first stage extending, as a rule, from the age of three years to the age of eight years; the second from eight to fourteen; the third from fourteen to maturity at about twenty-two in women and twenty-six in men; the fourth from maturity to senescence, whose limits vary widely; the fifth extending through senescence. Not every individual passes through all five stages. Individual differences also keep the time limits of the stages from being exact.

Characteristics of the First Stage.

The presence of the emotion in children between three and eight years of age is shown by such action as the following: hugging, kissing, lifting each other, scuffling, sitting close to each other; confessions to each other and to others, talking about each other when apart; seeking each other and excluding others, grief at being separated; giving of gifts, extending courtesies to each other that are withheld from others, making sacrifices such as giving up desired things or foregoing pleasures; jealousies, etc. The unprejudiced mind in observing these manifestations in hundreds of couples of children cannot escape referring them to sex origin. The most exacting mind is satisfied when to these observations are added the confessions of those who have, as children, experienced the emotion to a marked degree of intensity, and whose memories of childhood are relatively distinct. We are prone to refer many of the manifestations enumerated to imitation. Imitation can account in part for the form in which the emotion shows itself, whose presence is established by the accumulation of a vast amount of [Pg 331] evidence. Imitation plays an important role in the development of the sex instinct, and love between the sexes as one of this instinct's derivatives, as it does with the development of most other instincts. It would be no more satisfactory to account for these manifestations by referring them to imitation than it would to account for the love for dolls, the instinct of hunting, the interest in “playing house” by reference to the same cause. When we observe in young puppies, shoats, squirrels, seals, grouse, partridges, field-sparrows, starlings, wood-larks, water-wagtails, goldfinches, etc., actions corresponding to these which I have mentioned in children, we have no hesitancy in referring them to the sex instinct for explanation.

So far as the observations given to me by others are concerned, with very few exceptions, they all report hugging, kissing and other means of affecting physical contact, as being indulged in by the child lovers. This is largely due to the fact that the observers took these actions as the main ones that indicate the presence of the emotion and reported no cases in which they did not occur. My own observations and some of the confessions show that although some form of embrace is general, it is not always present. Through all of the stages of the emotion's development the embrace in some of its forms is the most general means of its expression. A quotation from Groos[6] in this connection is deemed appropriate. In speaking of natural courtship he says: “But a scientific system of natural courtship of the various human races does not exist; nor, indeed, have we systematic observations of any one people. It is, therefore, impossible to affirm whether there are such things as instinctive gestures, expressions, caresses, etc., which all human beings recognize as sexual stimuli. From the little that is known it seems probable that the number of such tokens is not great,—even the kiss is by no means general! We can only be sure of a universal tendency to approach and to touch one another, and of a disposition to self exhibition and coquetry as probably instinctive and of the special forms which these tendencies take under the influence of imitation and tradition as secondary causes. Caressing contact may then be regarded as play when it is an end in itself, which is possible under two conditions. First, when the pursuance of the instinctive movements to their legitimate end is prevented by incapacity or ignorance; and, second, when it is prevented by an act of the will on part of the participants. Children exhibit the first case, adults often enough the second. It is generally known that children are frequently very early susceptible to sexual excitement, and show a desire for contact with others [Pg 332] as well as an enjoyment of it, without having the least suspicion of its meaning.” In the cases in which I have recorded lifting each other as indicating sex-love, it was unmistakably apparent that the lifting was not a trial of strength but an indulgence in the pleasures of bodily contact, as was also true of the scuffling. In few, if in any of the cases which I have observed upon children of eight, have the participants been conscious of the meaning of their actions, although I have sometimes seen them attended by great sexual excitement. Schaeffer[7] believes that “the fundamental impulse of sexual life for the utmost intensive and extensive contact, with a more or less clearly defined idea of conquest underlying it,” plays a conspicuous part in the ring fighting of belligerent boys. Bain[8] attaches very great importance to the element of physical contact in sex-love. He says: “In considering the genesis of tender emotion, in any or all of its modes, I am inclined to put great stress upon the sensation of animal contact, or the pleasure of the embrace, a circumstance not adverted to by Mr. Spencer. Many facts may be adduced as showing this to be a very intense susceptibility, as well as a starting point of associations. (1) Touch is the fundamental and generic sense, the first born of sensibility, from which, in the view of evolution, all others take their rise. (2) Even after the remaining senses are differentiated, the primary sense continues to be a leading susceptibility of the mind. The soft, warm touch, if not a first-class influence, is at least an approach to that. The combined power of soft contact and warmth amounts to a considerable pitch of massive pleasure; while there may be subtle influences not reducible to these two heads, such as we term, from not knowing anything about them, magnetic or electric. The sort of thrill from taking a baby in arms is something beyond mere warm touch; and it may rise to the ecstatic height, in which case, however, there may be concurring sensations and ideas. Between male and female the sexual appetite is aroused. A predisposed affection through other means, makes the contact thrilling. (3) The strong fact that cannot be explained away is, that under tender feeling there is a craving for the embrace. Between the sexes there is the deeper appetite; while in mere tender emotion, not sexual, there is nothing but the sense of touch to gratify unless we assume the occult magnetic influences. As anger is consummated, reaches a satisfactory term, by knocking some one down, love is completed and satisfied with an embrace. This would seem to show that the love emotion, while fed by sights and sounds, and even by odors, reaches its climax [Pg 333] in touch; and, if so, it must be more completely identified with this sensibility than with any other. In a word, our love pleasures begin and end in sensual contact. Touch is both the alpha and omega of affection. As the terminal and satisfying sensation, the ne plus ultra, it must be a pleasure of the highest degree.” While it is the contact through the sense of touch that acts both as the most natural and most complete expression of love between the sexes and a powerful sexual excitant, there is a contact of the eyes of adolescent and adult lovers,—a sort of embrace by means of the eyes—that is as exciting to many as contact through touch.

The pleasure derived from hugging and kissing, etc., in children who have the emotion in this first stage of its development, is not specifically sexual except in some cases which I am inclined to consider as precocious. Normally, there appears to be no erethism of the sexual organs during the process of love-making. But erethism, as we shall see in another chapter upon the analysis of the sex impulse, is not confined to the sexual organs, but is distributed throughout the entire body, especially through the vascular and nervous systems. In these children there is a state of exaltation, indeed as yet not comparable in intensity to that of the adolescent or adult, which is, nevertheless, erethistic in its nature. It is massive, vague, and generally distributed throughout the body. In some cases there is specific sexual excitement with erections of the penis and hyperæmia of the female genitalia. Such phenomena are seen only in the cases that seem to me to be precocious. This point will be more fully treated in the chapter referred to above. Suffice it to say here that in love between the sexes at this early period or in the next following, the physical sensations of sexual excitement are generally wholly wanting, or if present are entirely unlocated. Love between children of the opposite sex bears much the same relation to that between adults as the flower does to the fruit, and has about as little of physical sexuality in it as an apple-blossom has of the apple that develops from it.

The love demonstrations of children in the first stage of the emotion's development are generally spontaneous, profuse, and unrestrained. There is an absence of shyness, of any sense of shame, of the feeling of self-consciousness. The children have as yet no notion of the meaning of sex. Their naïvete in this regard has not been destroyed by the social suggestion that such actions are wrong and vulgar. They are natively happy and free in their ignorance. The individual differences among children are as great in their experiencing and manifesting this emotion as they are in any other phase of life, so not infrequently we find children under eight years of age who are shy, [Pg 334] repressive and self-conscious in regard to their love actions. The same children are shy and repressive in other things. It is more of a general disposition than a specific attitude toward this one emotion.

The giving of gifts and the sharing of choice possessions is very common. The emotion in its earliest form introduces the element of self-sacrifice for the loved one that is inseparable from the emotion in all of its normal stages of development. It likewise introduces the intense selfishness that comes from the desire to monopolize the allegiance of the one loved. An only child, who as a rule is very selfish and will not share any of his possessions with others, readily gives up a liberal part to the lover. During the earlier years of this stage the gift is appreciated for its inherent value; it is good to eat, or pretty to look at, or has some other real value. This inherent value continues to be an element of appreciation in lovers's gifts throughout life. It is given by the lover as an expression of his love, and so received and prized by the sweetheart. Everything else being equal, the greater the real value the more satisfactory is the love expression to both. In the 6th and 7th years there appears unmistakable evidence of acquired value in the presents. They become of value because the lover gave them and, on account of their associations, are preserved as keepsakes. As early as the 6th and 7th years presents are taken from their places of safe keeping or where they are on exhibition as ornaments, and kissed and fondled as expressions of love for the absent giver. This is interesting as evidence of love-fetichism appearing in early childhood.

The emotion otherwise affects the moods and disposition of children. Refractory children, whose parents manage them with difficulty, become docile and amiable under the influence of the sweetheart or lover. Boys who, at other times, are cowards will fight with vigor and courage when their love is concerned. Children that have a sociable disposition sometimes become exclusive and abandon all other playmates for the chosen one, and cannot be induced to play with any one else. Ideas of marriage are often present, but they are vague and are present through social suggestion. The general attitude is represented by the testimony of one woman who stated that she had no definite idea of marriage at the time of her earliest childish love affair, but that she had a vague feeling that she and her little lover would always be together, and this feeling was a source of pleasure. Certainly children under eight have little foresight; they are chiefly absorbed in the present whose engrossing emotions give no premonition that they will ever change.

Beauty begins to be a factor in the choice of a sweetheart [Pg 335] among the children in this first stage. The most beautiful, charming, and attractive little girls are the ones who are favored. This element becomes much more conspicuous in the later stages. Jealousy is present from the first. It is more pronounced in the cases of love between children and adults of the opposite sex on account of the child's being less able to monopolize the attention of the adult and on account of the precocity of the child concerned in such cases. A fuller discussion of jealousy belongs in another section of this study.

Typical Cases.

Case 1. Boy 3, girl 5. Love is mutual. When in a large company of children they will always separate themselves from the others and play together. Never tire of telling each other of their love. Delight in kissing and embracing, and do not care who sees them.

Case 2. B. 5, g. 4. Began at ages given and still continues, two years having gone. Are often seen hand-in-hand; are very jealous of each other. Boy more backward than girl. Will not play with other children when they can be together.

Case 3. B. 3, g. 3½. Have been deeply in love since their third week in kindergarten. Rose not so jealous as Russel. She always watches for his coming, and runs to meet him the moment he enters the room. They sit together at the table and in the circle, and cry if separated. They are very free and unrestrained in showing their love by kissing, hugging, and by many little attentions.

Case 4. B. 3, g. 3. My little nephew of three and a little neighbor girl of the same age had a most affectionate love for each other, and were not at all shy about it. They would kiss each other when they met, and seemed to think it all right. The little boy used to tell me that they would marry when grown. This continued about two and a half years; then the girl's parents moved away, much to the grief of both children. The little boy would often climb up and take the girl's photograph from the mantle and kiss it.

Case 5. B. 3, g. 3. My nephew of three manifested an ardent passion for a small girl of about the same age. He followed her about with dog-like persistence. Being an only child he was very selfish, never sharing anything with other children. But Bessie became the recipient of all his playthings. His hoard of treasures was laid at her feet. Nothing was good enough for her, nor could he be dressed fine enough when she was around. On one occasion, a large boy picked Bessie up to fondle her, whereupon her jealous lover seized a hatchet and attacked his rival. He imperiously demanded a dollar from me one day in order that he might buy Bessie and have her ‘all for his own.’ He is now six, and loves her as much as ever.

Case 6. I know of two young people who have been lovers since babyhood. As they grew up their love for each other assumed different aspects. During the first seven years of their lives their love was open and frank, showing no restriction of the regard they felt. Caresses and embraces were indulged in as freely and unrestrictedly as might have been between two little girls. But when school life began and they became exposed to the twits and teasings of their playmates there developed a shy timidity and reserve when in the presence of others. Though they have been separated for long periods at different times their love has continued.

Case 7. Both about five years old when they first showed signs of love that I observed. May have begun earlier. Lasted four years. [Pg 336] Broken up by girl's parents moving away. Love was mutual without any signs of jealousy that I could see. Exchanged gifts, such as candy, nuts, flowers, etc. Their actions at first very free either when alone or in the presence of others. Later they became somewhat shy in the presence of others, but free when alone. Upon the girl's moving away the boy showed very deep feeling of sorrow. Do not know about the girl.

Case 8. My little brother at the age of four was very much in love with a little girl two years of age. He used to lead the little girl around, caress her tenderly, and talk lovingly to her. He always divided with her the playthings he most appreciated. He often said he expected to marry her. While the little girl did not object to his demonstrations, she seemed to care more for a young man thirty-three years of age, and called him her sweetheart. The little boy became jealous, and finally gave her up. After they entered school together the little girl became very fond of my brother, and always managed to sit or stand next to him in the class if possible, but he had lost all interest in her, and never cared for her again.

Case 9. B. 6, g. 5. They had been lovers for about two years. They did not get to be together often since they lived in different towns. Their families were relatives and exchanged visits. Upon one occasion when of the age indicated above they met at the home of Jeaness's grandfather. Edgar came late. Jeaness was seated upon a hassock in the parlor where there were several guests. Upon Edgar's entering the door, she saw him and, as her little face beamed with evident delight, she arose and met him in the middle of the room. They were immediately in each others arms. Edgar's mother, seeing the vigor with which he was hugging Jeaness, said to him with concern: “Why, Edgar, you will hurt Jeaness.” Jeaness, who evidently was better able to judge, archly turned her head and with a smile that meant much, said: “No, he won't.”

Case 10. B. 2, g. 2. One afternoon last summer two of my little cousins, Florence twenty-three months old and Harold two years old, were spending the day at my home. They had never met until that day. Florence is an only child and is inclined to have her own way, and isn't willing to give up to other children. Harold has rather a sunny disposition. They had not been with each other more than an hour before they were sitting on the porch and Florence had her arms around Harold. She was very willing to give up to him and share all she had. They played together the remainder of the day, and were very affectionate. Ever since then they have been very devoted to each other, and it is very beautiful to watch them in all their little ways of indicating their love for each other.

Case 11. I attended a wedding last June which was the outcome of a striking illustration of this love. I will tell the story as the bride's mother told it to me. “This does not seem like a marriage to me but just one more step in a friendship which began when Minnie and Theo were babies. Before either could walk they would sit on the floor and play with each other—never having any trouble over playthings, but sharing everything alike. Theo would break bits of cake and put in Minnie's mouth, and then both would laugh as though it were a great joke. If they were separated both would cry. As they grew up the friendship grew stronger, and Theo always called Minnie his 'little wife.' At school they were always lovers, and when we moved here it was understood that when Minnie was twenty-one Theo should come for her. During their entire lives I do not know of a single quarrel between them.”

Case 12. One bright morning I noticed a little boy sitting in front [Pg 337] of me who had not been there before. He turned around occasionally to look at me, and presently smiled. Of course I returned the smile, thinking that he was the sweetest little fellow that I had ever seen. This was the beginning of a love that lasted for several years. He was six, and I was the same age. On the next day he brought me a pretty picture, and after that paid so much attention to me that he was soon acknowledged to be my lover. Neither of us was the least bit shy over it. He did not care to play with the other boys and I did not care to play with the girls. We were not contented unless we were together. He freely confessed his love to me and confided all of his joys and sorrows in me. For three years and more he seemed to care as much for me as I did for him. When he came to our home to play with my brothers he usually forgot them and played with me. At dinner mamma always seated us side-by-side. We planned our marriage; his father who was a minister was to perform the ceremony. We discussed wedding dresses, bridesmaids and breakfasts with great seriousness. One day,—the fatal one to my childish happiness, a new girl came to school. I could not help noticing how often his eyes turned from me to her, and feared a rival from the first. He wanted her to play with us, and although I far rather would have preferred being alone with him, I hid my feelings and asked her. I tried to treat her kindly because I knew that it would please him. One day he asked me with great hesitation if I objected to his having two sweethearts. I smothered my jealous feelings and replied that I did not if he would marry me. He told me that he would, that he loved me,—in a way that was a compensation for my sacrifice. For some time the other girl and I got along very well as sister sweethearts; but I soon saw that she was receiving all of the caresses, and I concluded that I would not have it so. We had an interview. He said that he still loved me, but he gave me plainly to understand that he would be pleased to have me withdraw. Of course I did so, but was determined never to let either of them know that I cared. After a time they grew tired of each other, and he came to ask my forgiveness and make up, but by that time I had an older and as I thought better sweetheart; so he was left to repent his rash action while sweetheart number two captured some one else more suited to her taste.

Characteristics of the Second Stage.

The second stage in the development of the emotion of sex-love extends in time from the eighth year to about the twelfth year in girls and to the fourteenth year in boys. It is characterized by the appearance of shyness, of modesty, especially in girls, of self-consciousness and consequent efforts toward self-repression; by the inhibition of the spontaneous, impulsive love-demonstrations so freely indulged in during the previous stage. The boys are more secretive than the girls, but the tendency to conceal the love is present in both. This is the reason why fewer returns came for the years eight to twelve than for the years before and after this period. The children were to a degree successful in hiding their love and so passed unobserved. To the observer who does not depend upon the more demonstrative signs but who sees the less obvious but equally indicative ones, the emotion is easily detected. There is a conspicuous absence of pairing. The lover and sweetheart [Pg 338] are not often seen alone together. On the other hand, they are much confused and embarrassed when circumstances do bring them into each other's presence. Mutual confessions are seldom made,—at least, not directly, face to face. Some confess to friends, but this is usually done very reluctantly. Some confess through notes delivered by friends, or passed in some secret way; some reveal it by defending the sweetheart when she is being “talked about,” in many of which cases boys fight most spiritedly for the honor of the one they love. Some never confess,—neither to friends nor to lover. Some boys deny that they are in love and speak slightingly about their sweetheart, but afterwards confess. Then there are the revelations through gifts that are nearly always delivered in some secret manner, in many instances of which the giver leaves no clue that would reveal his identity; in other instances cards or notes are left, but it is rare to find lovers in this stage giving gifts face to face. Another indication that will not escape the close observer and which the confessions especially reveal, is that of the boy lover off at a distance, “feasting his eyes” upon every movement of his “girl” who may know absolutely nothing about his devotion. He may be seen following her about the playground or along the street, always, however, at a safe distance. Although modesty shows itself as a characteristic trait of the girl even at this early age, she is on the whole more aggressive in these early love affairs than the boy and less guarded about revealing her secret. However, the impulse to conceal the emotion,—to inhibit its direct manifestations—is fundamental to this stage of the emotion's development in both sexes and is, as we shall see later, of the deepest significance.

As in every other field of investigation, so here, we find that not all of the facts conform to our classification. Thus occasionally couples between eight and twelve or fourteen years of age are found who enjoy each other's company and so pair off and freely express their feelings as they do in the previous stage and also in the one that follows. The boys of these couples are generally those of effeminate tendencies who have been accustomed to play with girls instead of with boys. They are never very highly respected by the other boys, and later, at adolescence, are tolerated by the girls rather than respected and sought by them. Again there are individuals who are very timid in their general disposition, and are consequently undemonstrative and inhibitive at all times.

We have emphasized the fact that children that have sex-love in this second stage of its development, as a rule, avoid all direct expressions of their feelings and that lovers are awkward, embarrassed, self-conscious and ill-at-ease in each other's presence. This is true when the conditions are such that their [Pg 339] personalities meet in mutual recognition without a third thing as a shield. They are not yet in that stage of development wherein they, themselves, become the chief objects of conversation and wherein endearments and compliments become the chief stock-in-trade. However, the emotion has its expression indirectly through games, plays and other incidents that can be used as masks. Instead of direct contact of personalities through the love confession as such, it is long-circuited through some conventionality. In this regard the games of children are used very effectively. The following games are the ones which I have personally seen used oftenest: Post-office, Clap-in-clap-out, Snap-and-catch-it, Skip-to-my-Lou, Way-down-in-the-Paw-Paw-Patch, King-William, London-Bridge, Thread-the-Needle, Picking Grapes, Digging-a-Well, Black-Man, Prison-Base, Tag, All-I-Want-is-a-Handsome-Man, Green Gravel, Down-in-the-Meadow, All-Around-this-Pretty-Little-Maid. These are merely the ones that have seemed favorites and by no means exhaust the list of love games that I have seen used. Out of eighty-three games of Washington (D. C.) children reported in the American Anthropologist, by W. H. Babcock,[9] as many as thirty are love games. In this, as in the previous stage, the embrace is the most important love expression and stimulus. But in this stage it takes on disguised forms or is excused by the ceremony of the games. Some are kissing games, e. g., Post-Office, Paw-Paw-Patch, King William, Picking Grapes, Digging-a-Well, etc.; some are hugging games, e. g., London Bridge, Thread-the-Needle, etc., and some involve both hugging and kissing, e. g., Green Grows the Willow Tree. The kiss is not the frank love kiss given and received as such, but one called for by the rules of the game. This makes the kissing relatively impersonal and enables the young lovers thoroughly to enjoy the love communication without the awkward embarrassment that would come to them if the expression were not thus long-circuited through the game. The charm of the whole thing is in the fact that under the guise of a ceremony love has its way.

It will be helpful here to give a brief analysis of a few of the games as types. King William is a choosing and kissing game, involving among its details, the following lines:

King William was King James's son,
Upon a royal race he run;
Upon his breast he wore a star,
That was to all a sign of war.
Go look to the east, go look to the west
And choose the one that you love best,
[Pg 340] If she's not there to take your part,
Choose the next one to your heart.
Down on this carpet you must kneel
As sure as the grass grows in the field.
Salute your bride and kiss her sweet,
Then rise again upon your feet.

The game is played by an equal number of couples and one odd boy who is King William. With hands joined, all forming a circle with King William in the center, the sentiment of the lines is acted out to music, thereby adding the charm of rhythmic dance which is so pleasurably intoxicating to the young and which has been taken advantage of by lovers during all ages. At the conclusion of the lines, King William joins the circle, leaving his bride to choose as the lines are sung again, and so on. Post-Office is another one of the most popular kissing games. It is an indoors game and requires two rooms, one to be used as the post-office, the other as an assembly room for the girls and boys. One of the number is chosen to be postmaster, and is stationed at the door of the post-office; another is elected to start the game by entering the post-office, closing the door and indicating to the postmaster the one for whom there are letters and the number of letters. This is then announced in the assembly room by the postmaster, and the girl (if it was a boy who started the game) is expected to respond by coming to the post-office and getting her mail, which means granting a kiss for each letter. She then remains in the post-office to indicate her choice to the postmaster, while the boy joins the others in the assembly room, and the game thus goes on indefinitely. The postmaster is usually granted, as his fee, the privilege of kissing each girl whose mail he announces. Picking Grapes is a game that calls for as many kisses as there are bunches to be picked. It further involves the holding of hands, and is not infrequently so arranged as to have the boy's arms about the girl's waist. Digging a Well is similar to Picking Grapes, and calls for as many kisses as there are feet in depth to be dug. In competition games where forfeits are sold there is no limit to the devices for indirect love expressions except the fertility and ingenuity in invention of the young people, and every one knows that in this particular regard their resources are well nigh inexhaustible. London Bridge is made use of to satisfy the hugging impulse. The game is played as follows. Two leaders agree upon two objects, for example, a horse-and-carriage and a piano,—as badges of their respective parties. Then they join hands and raise them to form an archway that represents London Bridge. The others in the game form a line and pass under this archway while all are singing:

You stole my watch and broke my chain,
    Broke my chain, broke my chain,
[Pg 341] You stole my watch and broke my chain,
    So fare you well my lady love.

Off to prison you must go,
    You must go, you must go,
Off to prison you must go,
    So fare you well, my lady love.

The leaders may at any time let their hands drop down and catch any one in the line that is passing through. The procession then stops and the prisoner is asked in a whisper, “Which would you rather have, a horse-and-carriage or a piano?” According to the choice he or she passes around and locks his hands about the leader's waist. The second one who makes the same choice locks her hands about the first one's waist, and so on till all have in turn been made captive and have joined one or the other side. The two lines, whose leaders still face each other with hands joined, are now ready for the struggle that ends in the downfall of London Bridge. The following stanzas are sung, at the conclusion of which the pulling begins that usually results in a general downfall and tumbling over one another:

London Bridge is falling down,
    Falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down,
    So fare you well, my lady love.

What will it take to build it up,
    Build it up, build it up?
What will it take to build it up?
    So fare you well, my lady love.

Lime and water will build it up,
    Build it up, build it up.
Lime and water will build it up,
    So fare you well, my lady love.

Blackman is a catching and clutching game, and furnishes the opportunity for hugging long enough for saying, “One, two, three, pretty good blackman for me;” and it often happens that this is not said as rapidly as it could be,—especially if it be the favored one who is caught. Of course there is much promiscuous catching, and the game is satisfying other instincts than that of love, for instance the instinct of pursuing and catching; but it is quite noticeable that the boys have their favorite girls and catch them first, often showing jealousy if the girls are caught by any one else. The girls are often aggressive in selecting boys to catch in the event that they themselves are caught first. Prison-Base and Handkerchief are pursuing and touching games, and furnish opportunity for indirect love confessions. Skip-to-My-Lou involves the choice of “My Lou” together with skipping with her, which is done [Pg 342] while holding her hand or with arm about her waist as in round dancing. Green Grows the Willow Tree, involves holding hands, hugging and kissing. It is a ring game, with the one who does the choosing placed in the middle of the ring. The following is the song that furnishes the suggestions for the acting that accompanies it:

Green grows the willow tree,
    Green grows the willow tree.
Come my love where have you been?
Come and sit at the side of me.
    O, how she blushes so!
Kiss her sweet and let her go,
But don't you let her mother know.

Tag and I Spy are other games that furnish opportunities for love to discriminate in favor of its chosen ones. In fact there is scarcely a social game indulged in by both sexes wherein the incidents are not turned to the emotion's account by the young lovers. It must not be understood that all of the children who take part in these games are to be considered as lovers. As was suggested above the games may appeal to many other instincts and be indulged in on that account rather than on account of the love sentiment that characterizes them. On the other hand many of the games whose content does not suggest love may be turned into a love opportunity and expression.

The routine of the school furnishes other opportunities that are taken advantage of. Lovers will manage some way to sit or stand together, and are thrilled by touching. One boy who sat behind his sweetheart would place his arm along the back of the desk where she would come in contact with it. Others carry on their courtship by touching their feet under the desks, etc. It is common to see favoritism in recitations wherein pupils make the corrections; the lover seldom corrects the sweetheart, and vice versa. In contests such as spelling, words are purposely misspelled in order to favor the sweetheart or to keep from “turning her down.” The eye glance is another means as efficacious with children as with adults. One pair of young lovers, whose unsympathetic teacher forbade their looking at each other, brought hand mirrors by means of which they continued to exchange their “love messages.”

Few teachers complain of the love affairs of children in these first two periods as interfering with school work,—except when one of the lovers is absent. A score or more of the observers assert that during the absence of one of the lovers, the other does not do as good work and often becomes moody and irritable. On the other hand it very materially quickens the efforts of many who want to appear well before their lovers. [Pg 343] One boy, nine years old, who had been quite lazy and was looked upon as being rather dull, braced up and for two years led his class, in order, as he said, “to win his Ottilia.” During the adolescent stage that follows this the emotion becomes so intense and all absorbing as to interfere very much with school work, or with anything else that requires application.

Akin to the disturbance caused by the absence of the lover from school is the grief that comes from being more or less permanently separated, as by moving away or by the death of one. In some instances the grief is very intense and protracted. Four cases of attempts at suicide are reported: one boy eight years old; another nine; a girl nine and another eleven. Six cases of nervous illness are reported as due, either to separation or jilting. Ordinarily, however, weaning is comparatively an easy matter.

Teasing breaks up many of these love affairs, and not infrequently causes the lovers to hate each other; in which case they childishly look upon each other as the cause instead of the occasion of the torment. Also under the spur of the taunts of mates the lovers are stimulated to say things to or about each other that lead to estrangement. In some instances, however, the persecution is taken as a sort of martyrdom and is enjoyed. Jealousy is another potent factor in separating these young lovers. Teasing is not the primary cause of the tendency to conceal the emotion.

The season of the year seems to have its effect upon the intensity of the emotion of sex-love among children. One teacher from Texas, who furnished me with seventy-six cases, said that he had noticed that the matter of love among children seemed “fairly to break out in the spring-time.” Many of the others who reported, incidentally mentioned the love affairs as beginning in the spring. This also agrees with my own observations. It may partly be accounted for by the fact that during the winter months the children have much less freedom in playing together, and hence fewer opportunities for forming and showing preferences. On the other hand the suggestion inevitably occurs that there is some connection between this and the pairing season among animals and the sexual periodicity among primitive peoples.

“Showing-off” as a method of courtship is not only as old as the human race, but is perhaps the most common one used by animals. While the complete discussion of this topic is reserved for the chapter upon courtship, the picture of love as it is experienced by the young people in this second stage would not be complete without at least a passing reference to it. It constitutes one of the chief numbers in the boy's repertory of love charms, and is not totally absent from the girl's. It is [Pg 344] a most common sight to see the boys taxing their resources in devising means of exposing their own excellences, and often doing the most ridiculous and extravagant things. Running, jumping, dancing, prancing, sparring, wrestling, turning hand-springs, somersaults,—backward, forward, double,—climbing, walking fences, singing, giving yodels and yells, whistling, imitating the movements of animals, “taking people off,” courting danger, affecting courage, are some of its common forms. I saw a boy upon one such occasion stand on the railroad track until by the barest margin he escaped death by a passenger engine. One writer gives an account of a boy who sat on the end of a cross-tie and was killed by a passing train. This tendency to show off for love's sake, together with the inability to make any direct declaration, is well illustrated in the love affair of Piggy Pennington, King of Boyville.[10] “Time and time again had Piggy tried to make some sign to let his feelings be known, but every time he had failed. Lying in wait for her at corners, and suddenly breaking upon her with a glory of backward and forward somersaults did not convey the state of his heart. Hanging by his heels from an apple tree limb over the sidewalk in front of her, unexpectedly, did not tell the tender tale for which his lips could find no words. And the nearest that he could come to an expression of the longing in his breast was to cut her initials in the ice beside his own when she came weaving and wobbling past on some other boy's arm. But she would not look at the initials, and the chirography of his skates was so indistinct that it required a key; and, everything put together, poor Piggy was no nearer a declaration at the end of the winter than he had been at the beginning of autumn. So only one heart beat with but a single thought, and the other took motto candy and valentines and red apples and picture cards and other tokens of esteem from other boys, and beat on with any number of thoughts, entirely immaterial to the uses of this narrative.” This “showing-off” in the boy lover is the forerunner of the skillful, purposive and elaborate means of self-exhibition in the adult male and the charming coquetry in the adult female, in their love relations.

Another kind of indirection that is very interesting is that of a boy who ostensibly is talking to one, but everything which he is saying is intended for another. This is sometimes extended into a sort of pleasant teasing and scuffling in which the very one whom he wants to touch is very carefully avoided. A further phase of the same thing is shown by the embrace or caress that is given to one while the emotional discharge goes out to some one else; as for example, a boy under the influence of a [Pg 345] meeting with the girl whom he had begun to love but to whom he had made no confession, went home and walked up to his sister, put his arms about her neck and kissed her. The action was so unusual as both to surprise the sister and to arouse her intelligent suspicions. Goethe makes much use of this type of emotional discharge in his “Elective Affinities,” and Tennyson alludes to it in the lines,

Dear as remembered kisses after death,
    And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
On lips that are for others.

Such manifestations are not far removed from those that are shown to pet animals and to persons of the same sex, reference to which has previously been made.

Previous to the age of about nine the girl is more aggressive than the boy in love affairs. At this age her modesty, coyness and native love for being wooed, come to the surface and thereafter characterize her attitude toward the opposite sex.

Typical Cases.

Case 1. A boy of eight confessed through a girl's friends his love for the girl. Then on the playground he did little favors for her as though they were matters of course. If attention was in any way called to his acts of kindness he would lightly dismiss the affair with “Oh, that's nothin',” always showing embarrassment at the fact that his favoritism had been observed. In writing about it the girl says: “I liked him very much and enjoyed being near him on the playground, but was very much embarrassed when he spoke to me; so about all the pleasure that I got out of this little romance was in watching him as he would try to gain my attention and good-will while we were all at play.”

Case 2. In a case that continued from seven to thirteen the writer says: “I wanted to stand by him in the game, but would never make the effort to get the situation—although it always came about. He sent me very pretty valentines, but was very careful that I should not find out who sent them. When we met on the street we would both blush, and a strange feeling would possess me that I did not have on any other occasion. My bliss was complete when I was walking down the street and he overtook me—although we could say nothing to each other.”

Case 3. B. 9, g. 11. Boy very much annoyed by the fact that the girl was two years older. He thought that the husband ought always to be older, and “looked forward to the time when I should make her my wife. It was in secret, however, and I was always fearful lest some one should find it out. The girl probably never bestowed a thought upon me. I was very shy in her presence, and if she spoke to me or addressed me in any manner my tongue clove to the roof of my mouth, making it almost impossible for me to answer. I dreamed about her night after night, and upon hearing her name mentioned I would become confused and nervous.” This continued from nine to fifteen, and developed into a genuine case of adolescent love.

Case 4. B. 11, g. 9. Boy would come to take the girl to their little parties—but would never walk on the same side of the street with her. The girl writes: “We were very much afraid of each other, and [Pg 346] yet we weren't. When we were together we never would speak to each other if we could help it, but when we were apart we wrote notes constantly.”

Case 5. “I was very much in love with a boy when I was between seven and nine years of age. I always felt hurt if he chose any one else in the games. I was very much embarrassed if this boy's name was mentioned in the presence of my mother or brothers. I didn't mind their teasing me about any other boy. I felt none of this embarrassment in the presence of my sympathetic playmates.”

Case 6. An eight-year-old boy contemplated suicide because his sweetheart moved into another neighborhood. He would not tell her that he loved her. Wanted to give her a present, but feared she would divine the truth.

Case 7. From a woman's confessions, referring to her love at nine years of age: We never used the word love, it was always like. I think we felt afraid of love. I think we had no definite idea of marriage, we lived completely in the present. However, I felt in a dim way that we were always to be together.

Case 8. From a man's confessions: “I never told any one that I loved the girl, and did not even want the girl to know it. I was satisfied to be in sight of the girl. I was nine and she was ten.”

Case 9. B. 9, g. 8. A blue-eyed girl and a handsome dark-eyed boy. One day he told Bessie he had something to tell her, but that she must tell no one. He said that he had wanted to tell her before but could not; now he would tell her if he choked to death in the effort. Braving all difficulties, he led Bessie to an oak tree and while pretending to be gathering acorns, told her of his love. She forgot that she should “tell no one,” and at the first opportunity told me the whole story, and how she had loved him, but had never imagined he cared anything for her. I had understood Bessie's feelings before she told me this, and now rejoiced with her. She wanted to be with him almost constantly, but he was shy and always wished to conceal his affection from every one except from Bessie. She thought the mutual love something to be very proud of, and could not understand why he could not tell every one unblushingly as she did. She talked of a faraway sometime when she should be his wife; he, terribly embarrassed, acknowledged the fact when she mentioned it in his presence. This condition of affairs continued about three months, when she gradually came to the conclusion that he did not love her and she would give him up for one she knew loved her. This was a young man of seventeen or eighteen who delighted in holding her on his knee, playing with her curls and caressing her in different ways. He cared for her as boys of that age usually care for little girls. Milton, filled with jealous anger, remained at a distance for awhile, and then spoke of the unusual proceedings to Bessie. She told him in child language that “When one is truly in love one not only says it but shows it,” and having fallen desperately in love with the more fortunate young man she gave Milton to understand that he need hope no more. The new lover remained but a short time, and after bestowing a beautiful doll as a parting gift he went away. She cried, was sorry that she had misunderstood Milton, but was too proud to call him back, and contented herself with her doll, declaring she did not like boys, and would never, never have a lover again. Milton with his parents soon moved away, and we never saw him again.

Case 10. B. 10, g. 16. A boy of ten very much in love with a girl of sixteen. They wrote letters which they exchanged in some secret way. I chanced to see some of the letters which the boy had received from the girl in which she was profuse in her expressions of love. The girl [Pg 347] did not seem to care if her love for the boy was known, but the boy was shy. This continued for some time, in fact, until the young lady was engaged to be married to a young man, and within a week of her marriage she told her grandmother that if H. were but a little older her eyes would be turned in a different direction.

Case 11. The two children I refer to were about nine years old. They seemed to think a very great deal of each other, but were very shy in the presence of others. He often sent the little girl presents of flowers and candy on the sly. They continued to love each other for three or four years, until they finally became estranged through jealousy.

Case 12. When I was nine years old I fell in love with a girl about my own age who was also in love with me. I was jealous when I saw her playing with any other boy. I never told any one that I loved the girl, and didn't even want her to know it. As I grew older it gradually disappeared without anything to break it up.

Case 13. From the age of seven to ten I loved a boy of my own age. It happened occasionally that the class would stand up to spell, and when it did we frequently stood side-by-side. When the teacher allowed the school to spell in the old-fashioned way of “turning down” we were averse either to go above the other when we were entitled to do so. Our childish happiness lasted but one school term. His family moved away. We both felt the separation very keenly, and were sure that we never would have such friends again. At ten I thought more of another boy who had recently moved to our town. Our love began by our playing together in games with others. Our attachment grew to be very warm. He would send me valentines, and I would usually answer them. We were together in our study and in our games and sports. He would choose me and I would choose him,—except occasionally to tease him I would choose his nephew who was a little older than he. At times he did not appear to care, but at others he became angry. This love continued for four years with occasional interruptions in its placidity.

Cases of early love continuing throughout life. Case 6, page 335, and case 11, page 336, also belong to this group.

Case 1. My father and mother fell in love with each other when they were five years old, and were lovers till they died, both at the age of sixty-seven. When they were children they lived in the country some miles apart. Their parents attended the same church, and on Sundays in the summer-time the children were allowed to play outside while the church services were going on. It was in this way that they met, and for some time, they saw each other only on Sundays. When seven years old they started to the same school, and from that time on they were very devoted lovers. They were married at twenty-two, and lived happily together during forty-five years. They raised a large family, all of the members of which are now grown.

Case 2. I know of a couple who have been married ten years who have been lovers since childhood. The husband is four years older than his wife, with whom he fell in love when he was seven years old. They lived in the same town, and their parents were the best of friends. The children had many opportunities for being together, and always seemed very happy in each other's company. They were always acknowledged to be lover and sweetheart by their playmates, and it seemed very natural that they should marry, which they did when she was seventeen.

Case 3. I have a friend who is about five years older than I. We have [Pg 348] been very intimate, and she has told me everything about her life. She and her husband have been lovers since they were five years old. She says that there has never been a time in her life since that time when she didn't love him. They were neighbors when they were small children, but moved apart and did not see each other for years. She went with friends to Europe and had many interesting experiences with other suitors, but her love for that boy never changed except to grow stronger. They have been married several years.

Case 4. During the time that I was teaching I boarded for several terms in a family, the husband and wife of which told me that they had been lovers since the first year that they attended school, and that neither had ever had any other lover.

Case 5. Two young people that I know have been lovers since they were babes. During their early school years the little boy would call for his little sweetheart every morning and take her to school. He was always at her side during the play periods, and would walk home with her after school was out in the afternoon. When either was sick the other called regularly and brought little favors. They have been very jealous of one another during all of their life. They are now twenty and soon will be married.

Case 6. I know a couple who were married at the age of nineteen whose love began when they were children. Their parents were neighbors, and the children grew up together. During their childhood their love was not interfered with by the parents, but when they arrived at adolescence and began to go to parties together the parents of both objected. The most severe measures of the parents of both failed to prevent their marriage.

Cases with disparity in the ages of the lovers.

Case 1. A little boy of four began to show the most devoted love for a young lady. Even when she was absent the mention of her name would cause an expression of almost worship to pass over his little face. She gave him her picture, and every night he said his prayers to it and kissed it good-night. There was no cloud in his sky until one day he heard two members of the family discussing the arrival of a young man who was interested in the young lady. No notice was taken of the little one, and when dinner time came he was missing. He was found in the carriage-house—a little bundle of indignation—getting ready to drive down town. In the carriage he had put his father's shot-gun, and he vowed vengeance on the young man who was “stealing away” his “darling,” as he called her. It took some time to pacify him, and he was only satisfied when the young lady herself appeared on the scene and promised him she would not marry the young man. That was nearly three years ago, and he is still as devoted a little lover as he was then.

Case 2. A little girl of five showed great affection for a boy of twenty-one. She used to climb upon his lap and caress him, and he never forgot to have some little delicacy for her in his pockets. This little girl had a pet kitten which her parents did not wish her to play with, and so her brothers coaxed the young man to kill it, thinking that she would think anything which he did all right. But the child's conduct towards him changed, and she didn't care for him as before. She is now nineteen years old, but whenever she sees him she thinks:—“He killed my pet.”

Case 3. I knew of a little girl not more than four years of age who became warmly attached to a young gentleman. He laughingly said to the child “I will wait for you.” She did not forget the remark, but looked upon him as her ideal. Every act of friendship between him [Pg 349] and other lady friends was noticed with a jealous eye by the child. The young man travelled through the West, and while there met a lady who later became his wife. When the child learned this she was very angry and hated the lady. She did not feel differently about it until she was grown.

Case 4. A girl ten years old became very fond of a young man of nineteen while they both were attending school. She would wait for him to walk home with her from school. She took great pride in her personal appearance, and would always wonder if it would please him. This affection lasted through one winter and the next summer. After that the girl seemed to care for the boys of her own age.

Case 5. The last year I taught there were two little boys, Lambert, aged seven, and Frank, aged six, who fell in love with me. Lambert was very demonstrative when alone with me or when only grown folks were around, but did nothing in the presence of his schoolmates. He would put his arms around me, kiss me, and was very happy when he could sit on my lap. He gave me very few presents, but dearly loved to be with me, and often asked me to wait until he grew up so that he could marry me. He very frequently told me how much he loved me, and would ask me if I loved him, and if so whether I loved him more than I did others. Frank was very bashful, and though he would stay near me, would never come very close. He would watch my actions very closely, and tried to please me in every particular. Nearly every day in spring he would bring me a bouquet either of wild or tame flowers. Quite frequently he brought me fruit. If he had only one apple or banana he was never satisfied until I had taken a bite.

Case 6. A boy about ten years old loved a young lady of twenty during two years. Jealousy conspicuous. Expressions of love in the giving of small gifts, such as fruit, flowers, etc. Actions of the boy quite free and gallant in the presence of others. No tendency to withhold demonstrations and be satisfied with love at a distance. On the contrary, he seemed to seize every opportunity to show the lady attention. At about twelve years of age the boy began to hate her as extremely as he had formerly loved her.

Case 7. A little girl three years of age claimed me as her lover. Whenever I called on her parents she rushed to me and wanted me to hug and kiss her, and was never backward in doing her part. If at any time I did not notice her solicitations she would turn away from me and, going to some remote corner of the room, would cry as if her little heart would break. Jealousy was very prominent in her.

Case 8. A little girl three years old and a young man between twenty-five and thirty. It has continued now for about six or eight months and is mutual. The little girl says she is going to marry Mr. ——, and he says he wishes he could find a big girl that he thought as much of or that she was a young lady. She is very careful to always be nice in his presence. Will sit on his lap and love him, and seems happier than with any one else. She will ask her mamma “When will Mr. —— come to see me?” One day I met him and he told me to tell her that he would be in that afternoon. I did so, and she was very much delighted—ran and told the other members of the household. She seated herself in the parlor and would look at her clothes and brush them and sit in as prim a position as possible. She seemed to want to look her best. Her kindergarten teacher tried to coax her to go to her room; she said, “Oh no, Mr. —— is coming to see me,” and would ask impatiently when I thought he would come. She acted the same when alone or with others. She was very jealous, and never wanted any other lady to sit nearer him than she was. She would often say “He is mine.” She did not object to gentlemen sitting by him. No gifts on either side. [Pg 350]

Case 9. Last October a boy of four met for the first time a young lady of eighteen. He at once became strongly attached to her, and during the week they spent visiting the same family he was almost constantly at her side. He would sit on her lap with his arms around her neck, and sometimes shyly kiss her. He would leave his mother and go with the young lady in preference. He wanted to be doing everything that she did. The older boys teased him, but he did not care. Said she was his girl, and always would be. He cried for her to go with him when he went home. He has not seen her since that time, but they have her picture, and he takes it and kisses it and calls her his sweetheart.

Case 10. A little cousin named Blanche when about two years of age became greatly attached to a man who worked for her father and lived with the family. He was probably thirty years her senior. The feeling continued growing stronger for about four years, when it was broken off by her finding out that he “had another girl.” She told me once that she loved him more than she did her papa or mamma, and that when she grew up would go and live with him. When she got presents for any of her friends he was always remembered. She was very demonstrative, sitting on his lap and in many other ways showing her feeling for him.

Case 11. A young lady of twenty years and a boy of six. We all boarded in the same house. He was so attached to her that he would never go to sleep without kissing her good-night. The very coldest day in winter if his mamma didn't have his coat and mittens on him when the bell rang for twelve o'clock or for six o'clock he would go without them to meet her, for he knew that she came at that time. He was always asking if she loved him, and if she would wait until he was a man and marry him. This continued for nearly three years when, one day, a lady whose hair was gray called on his mamma. He didn't like her, and after she left said to the young lady “I won't marry you when I am a man for your hair will be gray.” After that he never cared particularly for her.

Case 12. I know of one case where a little boy about six years old fell in love with a lady about twenty years old, and always used to call her his girl. He used to go and put his arms around her and kiss her at any time; it did not embarrass him if some one was looking at him. He is about eighteen now, and seems to think a great deal of her yet.

Cases showing the continuity of the emotion through the first three stages of its development.

W., 18. I cannot remember a time before I was fourteen years old when there was not some little boy whom I loved. The first case that I can recall occurred when I was five years old. I know that I was five for I have heard my parents say how old I was when they moved away from that place. After we moved away I never saw him any more. We came to another town and I started to school. I was rather afraid of all the little boys, but some of them I liked very much. I can remember one big boy whom I didn't like. He was always trying to play with me, but I thought that I just hated him. One day he caught me and kissed me. It didn't frighten me, it simply made me very angry. I was so provoked that I cried and slapped him in the face as hard as I could. The little boy that I did like at that time was a red cheeked boy with dark hair and blue eyes. I do not remember any particular incident, but I know that we played together all of the time and thought a great deal of each other. I was then about seven years old. By the next year of school this boy had moved away, but [Pg 351] another little boy came to school whom I liked better. His name was Ray. I can remember him better than I can the others. For a long time I thought that he didn't care for me, and while I thought that I was afraid of him;—that is, when I met him I was so bashful and trembled so, because I was afraid that he would find out how I loved him and would make fun of me. Our teacher believed in having little boys and girls sit together in school so that they would not be bashful. I had always sat alone, but now for some reason or another she put Ray in the seat with me. I could not study or do anything with Ray so close to me. I was almost afraid to look up till one day he told me that he loved me. Then I found out that he had been afraid all of the time that I didn't like him. I was over most of my shyness then. I suppose that my teacher concluded that she had cured me of my bashfulness. I wore short dresses then that just came to my knees. I was good at wearing out my stockings at the knees, but my mother was such an excellent darner that it took the closest scrutiny to find the darned places. One day Ray noticed this darning and asked me if my grandmother did it. I told him that my mamma did it. “I wish that I had some one to darn for me like that,” he said. I told him that mamma was teaching me to darn that way. “Well,” he said, “when we are married you will know how and can darn mine that nice.” That was the first that I had thought of our getting married, and I can remember how proud I was to think that he cared so much for me. He was always very good to me, and we never quarrelled. Our love continued about two years. He moved to the city when I was ten years old. He was about a year and a half older. I have seen him only twice since then. The summer that I was eleven years old I met a little boy who was visiting his aunt, our neighbor. He was a year older than I. I cannot remember his name, but can remember how he looked. I loved him the same as I did Ray, except at the time I thought I loved him much better. I didn't know whether he loved me or not, but I thought that he did, because I noticed that he was just as nervous when we were together as I was, and turned his eyes away when I looked at him just as I couldn't help doing when he looked at me. One day I told Grace, his cousin, that I liked him better than I did any one else I knew. I said that I believed that I liked him better than I did my mamma. He had been at his aunt's two months, and I told Grace this just the day before he was going away. On the next day he came over in the forenoon and found me standing alone by the rain-barrel, thinking about him and almost crying because he was going away so soon. We stood and talked awhile, and then he said “Say, did you really mean what you said to Grace yesterday?” I can remember just how he looked at me when he said it. I wanted to tell him that I did. Then I thought that I would tease him. So I pretended that I did not know what he meant and tried to get him to tell me what it was. He kept telling me that I knew what it was and to please answer him. But I kept pretending that I did not know. I remember that I thought that I had better not say that I did because he hadn't yet said that he loved me. At last he said, “Please do tell me, I would be so happy if I knew that you meant it.” I was just going to tell him that I did mean it when mamma called me to come in and help her, so I had to go without telling him. He went away that afternoon, and I have never heard of him since. I cried that night because I had not told him what he wanted me to instead of teasing him. The last boy that I fell in love with had twinkling blue eyes, dark hair and dozens and dozens of freckles. He was what the people call a “holy terror,” but every one liked him because he was so free-hearted and ready to help everybody. I do not know how I happened to fall in love with him [Pg 352] nor when, but I did, anyway. He was a favorite with the girls, and that is what spoiled him. He got into the company of bad girls and boys, and before he was fifteen years old he was the worst boy in town. He is now about twenty-one or twenty-two, and no respectable girl will have anything to do with him. I prayed and prayed that he might be changed, but it seemed that it was not to be. I was only a child then, but I loved as earnestly as any woman ever did. After awhile my feelings changed. For a time I hated and loved him by turns. Then I began to feel sorry that he could not be good, and so finally I only felt pity for him.

M., 34. I remember that when I was three years old I was very much in love with a young lady of eighteen, the grocer's daughter, who was one of our neighbors. She was especially fond of me, and came for me nearly every day to spend a part and sometimes the whole of the day with her. My sister was married in the month before I was three, and I remember many of the incidents of the wedding. That event marked the first that I can remember about my love for Miss Carter. This love lasted during three years,—until I started to school. Then I soon fell in love with another young lady,—a very beautiful and popular French girl of eighteen. I asked my teacher if I might sit by her. He told me that I might if she were willing. I at once asked her, and she made me very happy by giving her consent. I was her seatmate during all of the remainder of that school year. I was very jealous about the attentions which she received from her many admirers, and was thoroughly miserable during the days that she was absent from school. There was another young lady in the same school whom I loved at the same time, but not with the intensity of my love for my seatmate. In my seventh year I fell in love with a little girl about my own age. I loved her very much, and she loved me in return. We were free and natural in our demonstrations of kissing, embracing and exchanging gifts and attentions. In the case of the two young ladies who were free and even excessive in fondling me, I was relatively passive, but enjoyed all their expressions of love very much. During the years from eight to twelve I was very desperately in love with a girl three years older than I, but about the same size. She was a very beautiful girl with expressive brown eyes and dark but clear complexion. She liked me very much, and it was understood among our playmates that we were lovers, although we were more reserved toward each other than we were toward any of the other school children. I do not know how my secret was discovered, because I had not told any one. I wouldn't have told her for anything. I couldn't have. It was very embarrassing for me to speak to her, although in Blackman I always tried to catch her, and usually succeeded for she didn't try very hard to get away. In playing “I Spy,” if I was “it,” I always allowed her to get to the home goal without spying her. In other games, such as “Dropping the Handkerchief” or choosing games she was the one whom I favored. Any little courtesy that I could show her filled me with keen delight, although I never wanted her to take any notice of it. I wanted her to understand it but not to mention it. The secret understanding between us was not the embarrassing thing,—it was any expression of our love toward each other that we could not stand; any reference to it by others was also very embarrassing. I do not think either of us was teased much. I could not easily keep my eyes off of her during school sessions, and in the recitations, if I chanced to sit or stand by her, I was very nervous and could feel my heart beating with great violence. I never corrected her in class, and have purposely missed many a word in spelling to keep from turning her down. I never wrote her a note nor in any way confessed my love for her except in such acts as [Pg 353] those which I have enumerated. She moved away from our town when I was twelve. I grieved over it for a year or more,—until I fell in love with another girl. This was my first adolescent love, and came over me with great power. The girl was about my own age and loved me as much as I did her. During the first year of this love we were both somewhat shy. We wrote notes and made the most extravagant confessions on paper, but would carefully avoid such in our conversations. In the choosing games we nearly always chose each other. In the kissing games I was the only boy whom she would kiss. There was one other boy whom she would allow to kiss her. I was very jealous of him although he was my chum. At fourteen we had passed our shy stage, and then became very demonstrative and sought each other's company outside of school. We exchanged love-letters very frequently. Some of these were twenty to thirty pages long, and were more poetic and beautiful than anything that I have been able to write since. I have some of them yet, and read them with much pleasure. My love for this girl lasted through more than three years, during which I was never absent from her home on Sunday. Our relations were encouraged by her parents. We had the usual love quarrels and temporary estrangements on account of jealousy, but they were soon over. At seventeen I left that town to teach school in another town fifteen miles away. She was attending school in the academy. While I was away two of my rivals perfected a plot that effected our estrangement. For a year we did not speak to each other. Then there was a sort of reconciliation, but nothing could undo the harm that had been done. I have not seen her for thirteen years, but I still think of her very kindly and recall our youthful romance as a pleasant and sacred memory.

W., 31. When I was about three years old a little boy of two lived near us. Our parents were warm friends and encouraged the love affair that soon sprang up between us. Our love was open and quite as a matter of course, we were very demonstrative and not in the least embarrassed by observers until I was about six, when we became more shy. We played house, and were always man and wife. Scarcely a day passed which we did not spend playing together from morning until night. Neither of us cared anything about playing with others. Once I remember as I was going home from the store carrying a little basket, Walter's cousin, a boy of about the same age, offered to carry it for me. He had no sooner taken it than Walter overtook us and commanded him to give him the basket saying that he always took care of me. When the young gallant refused to give up the basket Walter took it from him and, putting it at a safe distance, proceeded to give him a pounding. Then he took up the basket and walked home with me. I remember that I enjoyed this scene very thoroughly. We were almost inseparable for five years, when my family moved out West. We exchanged gifts and promises of eternal love, but the parting was very sad. We promised to wait for each other and marry some day. Within the next two years he sent me gifts and I sent him gifts and letters. His mother said he enjoyed getting the letters but was too shy to answer them, and was very easily teased about me. I was very proud of my lover, and told my new little friends about him. I was very happy when he sent me a photograph of himself neatly framed when he was about nine years old. Although we still considered ourselves sweethearts we were each enjoying love affairs at home. During my ninth year I had a lover about my own age. He was very popular among all the girls because of the gifts he distributed liberally. I was decidedly his favorite, and was proud of the distinction. We were shy before grown people, but at school were acknowledged lovers. While not openly demonstrative, we took advantage of our [Pg 354] games to show our love by choosing each other and giving the kiss or other mark of affection required by the game. We especially enjoyed walking home from school together or playing together when no one else was by. My heart was almost broken when it was discovered that he had been stealing small sums of money for some time in order to give me the gifts which had made me so happy. I was not allowed to have anything more to do with him, and he soon moved away. About this time I fell in love with a young man twice as old as I. He worked in my father's office and boarded with us. I loved to be with him, and was especially happy when he took me with him to church or some entertainment. When he would take me by the arm and help me through the deep snow I felt very grown up and proud of his attention. He cared for me as a little girl and I worshipped him as my knight. I was very jealous when he showed any young lady attention. Soon after this my father died and we moved to a lonely station on the prairie. Again I fell in love with a man more than twice my age whom I saw very seldom. I was very happy when he took me on his lap or caressed me. I was very shy both with him and about him, but magnified every look and word and act until I convinced myself that he loved me as much as I did him. I was intensely jealous, and when I did waken to the fact that he loved a young lady I was nearly heart broken. No one dreamed of this except a girl confidant. His marriage several years after hurt me. I think he never suspected my feelings. When about thirteen a boy a little older than I moved into our town from the East, and we proceeded to fall in love with each other at once. We wrote long letters to each other daily,—although we sat across the aisle from each other—and handed them to each other slyly when we thought no one was looking. When I was obliged to remain at home one week he brought me a long letter each evening after school. These letters were full of love and jealousy, and were read over and over, and were often carried next the heart. We took long walks and rides together, but I cannot recall a single caress given or received during the two years we were acknowledged lovers. I had received very strict teaching in regard to such things. Both of us were easily teased and very bashful when observed by others. When he was sent to a town fifteen miles away he felt sure I would forget him and that this meant the end of our beautiful love. I grieved over his leaving and because we were not allowed to correspond, but was really beginning to love a young man somewhat older so much that I was not inconsolable. We were very jealous of each other; and the news which came to each did not contribute to our peace of mind until we gradually grew apart. This affair was renewed later, and was of quite a different character.

1: It should be borne in mind by the reader that this article is a preliminary study. It forms a part of one chapter of a relatively comprehensive study of some of the aspects of the Psychology of Sex. The writer appreciates the fact that there may be a number of questions suggested to the reader, the satisfactory answer to which cannot be found in the data submitted here. It may also seem that too much is made of some of the facts and that certain interpretations are unwarranted. This effect is almost always inevitably the result of isolating any phase of a subject from its settings in the whole to which it belongs. Several points merely touched upon in this article are to be exhaustively treated in other sections of the same study.

2: Ribot: The Psychology of the Emotions, p. 248.

3: Psychology of Sex, Vol. III; Alienist and Neurologist, July, 1901, p. 500; American Journal of Dermatology, Sept., 1901.

4: Principles of Psychology, Vol. I, pp. 487, 488.

5: The Emotions and the Will, Chap. VII.

6: The Play of Man, p. 254. New York, 1901.

7: Zeitschr. f. Psychol. u. Physiol. d. Sinnesorgane, Vol. II (1891), p. 128. (Quoted by Groos.)

8: The Emotions and the Will, pp. 126, 127.

9: American Anthropologist, Vol. I, pp. 243-284. Also see Lippincott's Magazine, March and September, 1886.

10: McClure's Magazine, February, 1897, p. 322.

Transcriber's Note

This eBook was transcribed from The American Journal of Psychology, vol. XIII, no. 3, July 1902.

Quotation marks have been added to the beginning of each paragraph in long quotations.