• Damsel In Dating Distress

LOVE: THE COMPLEX PHENOMENON.

A popular topic amongst poets, writers, philosophers, and scientists for generations. A word often used in everyday speech. It makes people do silly things, bold things, not to mention dangerous things. According to various studies it's been said that when you feel this emotion, the effects are similar to that of cocaine. Yep, it can only be that thing pesky called "Love". But what IS love? Can it be defined? Let's take a deeper look in today's post...

SIMPLY A WORD UNTIL IT'S GIVEN MEANING...

When we talk about love, some would say it's one of the most important human emotions yet ironically we don't fully understand it. The Greeks broke out love into four levels: "storge" for kinship, "philia" for friendship, "eros" for sexual and romantic love, and finally "agape" for divine love. For the purpose of this blog, I'll be focusing on romantic love. If I were to go out and ask someone to define "love" I'd expect to hear something along the lines of: "love is when a person experiences intense feelings of affection, warmth, compassion, protectiveness and respect towards another". Yeah I'd say that's the crux of it as far as a dictionary explanation goes, but where do these combo of emotions stem from? Looking at love from a scientific perspective; American biological anthropologist Helen Fisher and her colleagues put 37 people who were madly in love into an MRI scanner. Results revealed that romantic love causes a surge of activity in brain areas that are rich in dopamine, the brain's feel good chemical. This brain activity is located in an area called the caudate nucleus, part of the reward system which is hugely associated with wanting, motivation, focus and craving. Fisher stated that during the early stages of love, we typically feel emotional excitement (sometimes in the form of stress), our cortisol levels rise causing a racing heart and nervousness. Oxytocin, known as the "love hormone", also comes into play which further deepens feelings of attachment. While hormones and biology appear to be major influencing factors, I believe the way we express and experience love is based on our own ideas and cultures. Our upbringing, experience, media exposure, and other external factors can significantly impact how individuals think about and display romantic love.


CAN YOU CONTROL LOVE? IS IT SIMPLY A CHOICE OR A FEELING?


This was a question posed by my friend so I'll attempt to answer in my own words... I believe I've only ever experienced one case of "being in love" — and at 16, I remember it feeling incredible, the emotions were powerful and it really does put you in a state of euphoria. Truthfully, I'm not sure if it was me "being in love" or just an obsessive co-dependent attachment I had for someone... either way, whatever it was, the chemicals in my brain were clearly firing off. In hindsight I guess it made me understand what William Shakespeare meant when he said "Love is merely a madness". When you feel very strongly and become emotionally invested in someone, as in, you're not holding back and giving them 100%, it can make you act a damn fool! There were things I could never see myself doing or compromising on... but there I was doing all of that for the sake of love. I don't think you can help when and who you fall for but you can certainly choose whether you want to let your guard down in order to give and receive love, thus leading on to making a commitment (again, a choice that sits entirely with you). Somewhere along the path of love there's always going to be an element of choice, for example, if a partner isn't good for you and/or treats you badly, the choice can be made to stay or go. Or if you're going through a rocky patch, you can choose to focus on the positives or negatives. Whenever we find ourselves in these predicaments, it's important to acknowledge that we are responsible for the next course of action. If we can achieve the right blend of emotion and reason, we'll be able to steer our love lives to avoid sticky situations and disastrous people, and be left with the joy, warmth, and intimacy that we all deserve. While love just happens to us, the reward of staying in healthy, happy love is all about choices.

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