One of the reactions to the sexual revolution (and the 19th Century radical Romantic movement) was to stress that love was an act of the will and not an emotional state. I think this leads to seeing love in a way that ends up distorting what it is, but to explain this will take three longish paragraphs of set-up.
Aristotle locates virtue in that part of the person which is not rational but can respond to reason, i.e that part of us that virtues train is what we now call our emotional states. By the time we recognize that emotion is something we need to work on we find ourselves with some good and fitting emotional responses to the world and some not so good, but everyone has a tremendous amount of work to do, and the complete effort is the work of a very long time. One of the more vexing problems is that emotional responses that of themselves count as great natural talents and gifts all come with a dark and harmful shadow that needs to be purged out by effort and cultivation. The emotional warmth that a scholar gets in the face of ideals, perfect constructions, and abstract truth will, before our own effort, come with a dark shadow of irrational expectations of human perfection, which in turn will lead to crazed-impatience and/or scruples and/or irrational irritation at all demands that others make on our time, and/or a hundred other vices; and the emotional warmth that sociable and gregarious persons get from the presence of others will, before our efforts at improvement, come with a shadow of living beyond one’s means, and/or an overbearing and oppressive alpha-domination, and/or the a loss of one’s identity to the herd, etc.. Again, even identifying our natural emotional gifts is not always easy to do, since what appears to be an emotional gift might well not be, either because we misunderstand what a proper response is or because, even though we understand things correctly, what we take as a proper response is really just two vices fighting against each other or one of our more dominant vices using moderation as a tool to achieve the long-term goals of vice.
Virtue, morality, ethics, psychology, life wisdom, economics, friendship, and much of the work of actual grace and supernatural aid are dedicated to building a city in this wilderness of emotions where good and evil are both obscure and implicated in one another. The basic experience of growing up or living one’s vocation is discovering both the great abundance of natural emotional gifts we have and the extent to which they both help and deeply hurt humanity in the person of ourselves and of others. There’s also a great deal of experiencing our limitation and inadequacy, which in turn is both a gift-in-disguise and, of course, a humiliating self-critique and a source of harm for the humanity of ourselves and others.
Love only exists within this basic human emotional predicament, which we experience as a vocation to vows and virtue. Virtue just is a correct emotional response to the world, where “correct” means one that is purified of its dark shadow and where some emotional responses have been grown more or less from scratch from the habitual repetition of some behaviors. This sort of cultivation involves reason in its whole scope as self-reflective, mindful of human goods, tempered by experience and the arguments of others, perfected by cultivation in in art, entertainment, music, food, narratives of life, etc. Basically, “reason” is a proxy term for “anything in our psychological, cultural, volitional, or intellectual endowment that our emotions can be cultivated by”, and the difference between this and a Kantian deontological pure reason or a soi disant classical essential intellectualism could not be more stark.
And so after all this I can give some sense of just how wrong it is to see love as either essentially willed or essentially emotional, or how far we miss the mark if we want the difference between classical and modern accounts of love to turn on the primacy of emotion or will. The Emotionalists and Romantics want, in effect, the reward of virtue without the work of “reason” (again, understood as the proxy-term just mentioned). Those opposed to the Emotionalists fail to see that emotions are both the source and summit of the work of virtue, and they provide the only context in which love can be a virtue and not a vice.* Emotionalism or Romanticism is a perfectly correct stance to life for the virtuous, the saintly, those fresh out of Purgatory, or Christ and Theotokos throughout life. Let’s put this claim as scandalously as we can: those right out of Purgatory are morally obliged to abandon or push aside object to which they feel emotional repugnance;** and to the extent that you feel emotional repugnance and something you should not push aside you still have moral work to do on yourself. This is the sense of Augustine’s “love and do whatever you want” or of Vergil’s speech to Dante in Purgatorio XXVII:
“I’ve brought you here with intelligence and art.
Let your own pleasure guide you from now on…
“Await no more a word or sign from me.
Your will is straightened, free, and whole —
and not To act upon its promptings would be wrong.
Said another way, one response to “love is a choice, not an emotion” is to say either “no” or, better yet “not in the virtuous, it isn’t” or “love is either vicious or incontinent where it does not have the proper emotional responses” And the proper response to Emotionalism or Romanticism is not “love is a choice- an act of the will!” but “Yes, you are supposed to live by your emotions, but you have no idea how undeveloped, imperfect, and in need of cultivation your emotions are. Living according to your emotions now would be like trying to make an oak table out of acorns.”
*We can probably make the claim stronger than this: emotions are essential guides to what is true or false. This is easiest to see in the Capgras syndrome, where a failure to route sense information though emotional centers in the brain leads us to think we are sensing fakes or impostors. This has a less delusional but still corruputive instantiation in teenagers who think everyone is fake or phony or without integrity (Holden Caulfield would be a paradigm instance… Full disclosure: as a teenage I identified with Holden, which turned out to be both a source of later perfections and a great source of harm and irrationality).
**Just what sort of exegesis this calls for of Christ’s “not as I will, but as thou will” is not clear, but my own commitments rule out reading this as Christ’s emotional repugnance to a fully understood duty. It likewise creates a greater demand on the imperative to “love your enemies”. Taking this as a duty does commit us to emotions that are appropriate to the imparative which is, for most, an impossibly remote ideal.