To be consumed mentally and physically, being 'in love', the desire to find oneness in which ever way possible and meet a soul mate is the thing us humans fall for at some point in our lives, whether we like it or not. Some years ago I wrote a piece called 'Love Is A Chemical Imbalance' based on my own experiences. The trappings of 'romance' are glamourised, we crave, dream and scheme for the of moment of being 'in love' to arrive, and arrive it most certainly does in most unexpected ways. Romance is the stuff of novels, songs and of course everyday life, the search for the perfect partner to spend seconds, minutes, hours, days and years to come. The ethereal dream, the clouded vision of pure love, the craving for true love and finding it is also somewhat like an addicts fix.
I have since discovered that in the last ten years scientists have discovered that I wasn't far away from my initial thoughts, so I did some research. Along with sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen, which kick start the process of love, adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin take lovers onto the next stage and finally the latest discovery, that oxytocin and vasopressin, both trigger the final bonding and attachment stage in various ways. In 2000, Andreas Bartels and Semir Zeki found out when they scanned the brains of people madly in love that infact only a small section of the brain was active, and they weren't the parts associated with friendships and other emotional states such as fear and anger. Not only that the 'in love' areas were the same as those affected in a cocaine user.
*'Then there is attraction, or the state of being in love (what is sometimes known as romantic or obsessive love). This is a refinement of mere lust that allows people to home in on a particular mate. This state is characterised by feelings of exhilaration, and intrusive, obsessive thoughts about the object of one's affection. Some researchers suggest this mental state might share neurochemical characteristics with the manic phase of manic depression. Dr Fisher's work, however, suggests that the actual behavioural patterns of those in love — such as attempting to evoke reciprocal responses in one's loved one — resemble obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).' Source: Economist, 12 February 2004. * “Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love”, by Helen Fisher.
Interesting talk from Helen Fisher...
As a self confessed romance addict, I'm fascinated by the compulsive notion of being in love, how we select our love interests, what makes them work and what doesn't. For romantic love to exist there seems there must be a longing and yearning not to mention the thrill of the chase. The possible notion of doom initially may not be the focus of this idlylic state of high romance. Are we all looking to subconcionsly find partners that resemble of our parents? Nature, nurture? If we were asked for the traits we might admire in a future love match we might say, humor, kindness, power and money. Infact in an experiment it was found it takes between 90 seconds and 4 minutes just to decide if you fancy someone and it is possible to 'fall in love' approximately just over 30 minutes after meeting. It seems nature has ways of deciding for you...
*But what is the role of the brain in the stage of love? One chemical, oxytocin, plays an important role in romantic love as a sexual arousal hormone and makes women and men calmer and more sensitive to the feelings of others. Physical and emotional cues, processed through the brain, trigger the release of oxytocin. For example, a partner's voice, look or even a sexual thought can trigger its release. Attachment to someone has been linked to chemicals released from the brain known as endorphins that produce feelings of tranquility, reduced anxiety, and comfort. These chemicals are not as exciting as those released during the attraction stage, but they are more addictive and are part of what makes us want to keep being around that person we are in love with. In fact, the absence of these chemicals when we lose a loved one plays a part in why we feel so sad. But is that it? Are chemical releases triggered by the brain when we think of or are in the presence of our partner all there really is behind those "I love you's"? *Love In The Brain, Claire Smiga
Artifying love Genesis P Orridge and Lady Jane intellected a process of united cosmetic surgery. Falling for eachother they become 'Genesis Breyer P-Orridge', and cultivated a process which symbolized their great love 'We started out, because we were so crazy in love, just wanting to eat each other up, to become each other and become one. And as we did that, we started to see that it was affecting us in ways that we didn't expect. Really, we were just two parts of one whole; the pandrogyne was the whole and we were each other's other half.'
For most people that may be a bit extreme, personally I absolutely get it. I get why people carve eachothers names on body parts and trees, send love letters, notes and generally enjoy the euphoric rush only being in lust and love can give. In reality it's a basic human compulsion but obviously the complexities of human behavior can confuse matters at times, but isn't that all part of it. Happy Valentines!