Nov 29

I was fascinated (though slightly dismayed) by this story at the BBC – seems some Italian scientists have worked out that romantic love lasts a year at the very most. Apparently it’s all down to chemical levels in the brain, and over time the levels of chemicals drop to the point where they’re the same in married or single people. It’s a weird thing – I know we need to know how we work and I can understand that the frontiers of knowledge need to be pushed back, but I also like to think that we are something nobler than just a watery bag of chemicals reacting with one another. Love shouldn’t be rendered down into its component parts: call me silly, but I think it has to be more than that.

One amusing thing though – the scientists apparently published their findings in the psychoneuroendocrinology journal. With a catchy title like that, you just know it’s the journal where all the cool psychoneuroendocrinologists hang out. I had a look at their site, looked along some of the article titles, and amused myself with the big words and my utter, utter inability even to put together a vague idea in my head of what the article was actually about. Have a go yourself: I swear if you understand any of them I’ll pin a gold medal to your chest.

5 Responses to “This thing you earthmen call love”

  1. TheWriteJerry Says:

    When you view love as a choice – and not as a mere chemical reaction – then you can make love last a lifetime.

  2. FawnDoo Says:

    That’s an excellent way to put it Jerry…well done, that man! :-)

  3. MCF Says:

    It comes down to infatuation versus dedicated love, the difference between “falling in love” and “standing in love”, as outlined in one of my high school theology courses. People often mistake that chemical reaction those scientists are talking about as love, but that’s just infatuation, the initial attraction which does, of course wear off. Like Jerry said, real love is the choice to continue in your commitment to someone beyond the giddy school boy OMG SHE’S HOT LOL111! stage.

    Before high school I used to say I was in love with a girl if I just had a crush on her, and in most cases I hadn’t said more than a few words to her. That doesn’t constitute a relationship, or love even. I think that’s one reason divorce rates are so high. People get married during the chemical attraction phase, mistake it for love, and when that wears off think they made a mistake. Real love is an active process, not a passive attraction.

  4. TheWriteJerry Says:

    MCF nails it – love is active!

    The problem with the infatuation stage is that it is a chemical reaction, and the brain can become addicted to that chemical, and thus goad you into finding new infatuations. That’s why willpower and choice are important in love, the same way that they are important in avoiding any other potential addiction.

  5. FawnDoo Says:

    I think you’ve put it well MCF: love is a series of active processes, decisions, choices and reflects a great deal of work…yeah, I can go with that one! :-)

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