By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying –
Lady make a note of this:
One of you is lying.
I don’t share Dorothy Parker’s pessimism when it comes to the matters of heart but have noticed that many times it is exactly following the heart that brought trouble onto my head. You know what I mean? In the beginning it all looks right and feels right (hopefully it even smells right 🙂 ). Then how come one day you wake up and “right” is the last word that comes to mind when you think of that very person that used to be your own center of the universe? As Käbi Laretei asks in her recently published book, “Vart tog all denna kärlek vägen?” /”Where did all this love go?” . The acclaimed pianist shared ten years of her life with the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. The book is a collection of their correspondence.
Some try to answer the question by writing books while others draw the conclusion that the only way to avoid this endless circle of disappointments is to simply run for their life from any relationship that brings up those butterflies in the stomach – they are convinced there is no “right”, it just feels that way for a while and they think they can choose choose safe over sorry.
For starters I would like to understand what it is that makes my brain see someone as very attractive and therefore desirable, leaving the where-did-it-go question for later. What happens when I am drawn to another human being and my heart starts beating faster at the very thought of his smile? How does love chemistry work?
So, once again: what’s happening in the brain when we feel high on love?
Biological anthropologist Helene Fisher, the founder of Chemistry.com and the author of the personality test that many dating sites presently use to help singles around the world find their ideal matches, was a guest speaker at TED not once but twice. Here Helene Fisher shares talks about the research she and her research team conducted using MRIs of people in love:
In her other lecture Helene Fisher talks about the evolution and the underlying biochemical foundations of love as well as its social implications. She also explains the biological mechanisms behind our desire to cheat on our partner.
Journalist Susan Kuchinskas, the author of “The Chemistry of Connection” is also interested in the biology of attraction. In her interview on Love, Sen and Intimacy she makes a clear distinction between lust, romantic love and love. She also explains how our capacity to love and bond with others is determined by the level of oxytosin. Interestingly, we learn to release oxytosin through being nurtured as babies so dear parents please hug your offspring as often as possible!
What do these discoveries and the way they are interpreted mean for me? It seems that choices that appear attractive to me are to a large extend a product of chemical processes in the brain that is wired a certain way to ensure survival of the human race rather than my interests as an individual.