To me, real love is wanting what's best for another, even if it's not what you want for yourself. I think there are two primary examples of good love, which can be defined through two ostensive definitions. (Ostensive definitions define terms through citing examples.
Parental love, often shown through sacrificing for the benefit of a child. Saving for an education for the child. Urging them to take a job across the country because it looks like a good opportunity.
Friendship. At its best, a friend is there for you and wants to see you happy and successful. When you have an opportunity that will take you far away, your friend buries their grief to wish you well and offers to stay in touch.
Contrast those examples with romantic love:
When you're in romantic love, you want the other for yourself. You would happily monopolize their time. You think about them constantly. You check up on them if you think they might be with other people. You analyze what they say for hidden meanings.
Sounds like an ostensive definition of an obsession to me.
While that sort of thing (breakfast in bed, roses arriving unexpectedly, etc.) may be what we call romantic acts, they are not romantic love. They aren't even OUT of romantic love. Romantic love is what happens in the first blush when you're knocked head over heels and convince yourself that this is the one, this is it, and all of a sudden you can't sleep at night and you think about them to the point of distraction. When done sincerely, those little niceties which we think of as romantic acts, are really just acts of friendship, for the friendship holding between a couple is of a particular kind, but it's still friendship. Just a way of saying "I still love you."
Of course, if the guy's a shit, they're meaningless.
that "first blush" that you mention is what I've been led to believe is sexual attraction.
Exactly, and it takes the form of obsession.
Yet thats what everyone thinks is love and they act on it.
I asked a collegue once if she had ever been in love and what did it feel like? - she said:
"Yeah - you know - when you first meet them and you cant stop, you know, doin it"
and a couple of other people who were listening said -
"yeah giggle giggle - thats right"