Believe me, I share a lot of your misgivings about ‘romantic’ love.
That evolutionary, chemical/biological drive to pursue mating material can truly become a barbed-wire cage. However, your Grammy and cousin are examples of love which is clearly not mutual and, I would say, results from elements, perhaps, of co-dependency, (unfortunately, another pitfall of ‘romantic’ love).
My own grandparents and to some extent, my parents came from generations where the socio-religious expectations were different and divorce, like children out of wedlock, brought shame and condemnation to the participants and their entire families.
We do both appear to be broadening the arena, here, away from the original, specific subject. That’s not a complaint, though. I’m simply pointing it out.
I have, myself, given up pursuit of any personal romance but, even so, I could cite numerous counter-examples of long-lasting, prospering, emotionally mature relationships.
I think, perhaps, emotional maturity is something I consider to be an integral part of my definition of ‘consenting’. To consent, rather like contracting in legal terms, requires, in my opinion, full disclosure of, and ability/experience/wisdom enough to fully comprehend, what they are ‘agreeing’ to.
Paedophilia is a specific area you cite and, speaking as a parent, my opinion is naturally coloured in that regard. I think the paragraph above sums it up. though.
I have no issue at all with relationships that involve greater age differences than are common. Yes, again, I’m sure there are heartbreaking stories out there and I feel sympathy for what might otherwise have been healthy relationships being scuppered by societal expectations. What does come into question is, as I mentioned above, the realistic ability, given the lack of life-experience and worldly-wisdom, of the younger participant to truly give informed consent.
Coming at it from the other side, if, hypothetically, the older participant does love, in the truest sense, a significantly younger person, then the responsibility lies with them, as the one with the greater maturity and life-experience to protect the younger from interference in their normal physical and mental development until they can truly understand the implications of such a relationship and are able to give that fully-informed consent. That being absent, the result is, in the most charitable description, exploitation. At worst, it is abuse and corruption of another living human-being of the most abhorrent kind.
When I claimed there wasn’t enough love ‘out there’ as it is, what I meant was the more universal sort. I refer to the kind that informs our interactions with other members of our species and, by extension, the world in general.
This involves tolerance, empathy, understanding and the ability to meet a stranger and, where we agree or disagree in our outlook or intent, treat them as we would a brother, sister, mother, father or, indeed, our own child. (And, for the record, no, I am not at all religious).
Currently, the opposite of those traits not only proliferate but are encouraged in whole populations by the ruling powers and their media accomplices in order to serve their geopolitical ambitions. Intolerance, demonising whole communities as ‘the other’ and deliberate, active ignorance are the norm.
If those who, unquestioningly fall for all the hate speech (generally, because it feeds into their own fear script) were to stand back and, truly, critically, objectively examine the utter illogic of they are being told about entire races, creeds and populations, then everyone’s life, including theirs, would see positive changes.