Love is the wild card of existence
What is love? Why do people crave love? How do we select the people we fall in love with? Is it based on biology: natural selection or is there a deeper philosophical meaning behind it all?
Love: a biological, physiological and philosophical study by Heather M. Chapman helped me understand a little bit of reasoning from each of those ways these answers can be question. So if you found this interesting and want to learn even more, go ahead and read that.
What is love?
Well first off, there is the dictionary definitions of love (7 of them actually):
5.6. love affair;7.
There are seven definitions of love in the dictionary. That shows how hard it is to define. If you were to ask different people what they think the definition of love is, they would most likely define is somewhat differently from one another. To me, love is the moment you almost become so selfless that the well-being and happiness of the person you love is as important or even more important than your own well-being and happiness. That is my personal definition, whereas anyone who comments on this post could have a completely different meaning. (What is your definition of love? Comment Below)
This video is an example of all the different opinions of what love is. Some say, it’s an energy, kind of like an essence as Plato would explain. Some express love as god, a higher understanding of love. Some say, it’s comfort; this would go back to the physiological side of love. Some say, it’s the raise in your heart rate, making love a biological and chemical state. Some studies, separate romantic love and normal love, saying that romantic love is a type of obsession and addiction while, other love is oneness.
Why do people crave love and how does it work? The biological and brain chemistry approach.
Breakups are hard to deal with because the body and mind go through withdrawal – Like drug addiction, we become addicted to love.
You may think this quote is metaphorical, however it is actually a literal fact. The chemicals released in our brain when we experience “love” or “love at first sight” have addicting characteristics. The releasing of Dopamine is addictive because this neurotransmitter makes you feel good and when that is released you want more. Our pupils also start to dilate so our eyes can grasp more of the persons image. This is just one more standing fact that shows that the entire body reacts when faced with desire.
Another neurotransmitter that is released at the same time is called, oxytocin which is related to bonding. oxytocin is also released during sexual intercourse and is what causes the feeling of “closeness.” Sometimes people mistake this feeling with love. Hence, the stereo type that women sometime will experience the feeling of attachment with someone they have no proper future with after the release of oxytocin. Women release mores oxytocin because of their increased estrogen that makes the oxytocin receptors more sensitive, explaining why women feel this way more than men.
Another neurotransmitter and hormone is released when facing desire, mostly known as adrenaline but also called Epinephrine.
This reaction, the sweating, the dilated pupils, the increased heart rate, is exactly how people describe the feeling and energy of being “in love”. – Heather Chapman
Epinephrine is what causes that increased heart rate and fully describes that energy that is talked about by one of the participants in the video above.
endorphins are also another important chemical that is released in the brain giving the feel of both a sedative and an analgesic. This is also released when you perform exercise and other things that are good for you. The “runners high” can be compared to love. People who run often get addicted to the endorphins that are released and then have a great urge to excercise. The same thing goes for love. If you even get a glimpse of the feeling, you start to crave it because of the chemicals released in your brain, making it become a minor addiction.
People may stay with someone the logically know is a bad match because the multiple neurotransmitters in their brain are confusing them by releasing chemicals that make them feel good when they are with that person, feeding into their addiction and contributing to the fact that they are attached. So should this be called love or just pure attraction? Love is almost when it becomes an obsession whereas attraction is just the stepping stone to that.
The answer is no. You can go on and on about just the biological and chemical view of love as there has been mass amounts of research put in it, but that would take its own post. So, let’s move.
The Phycology of Love
Unfortunately I must start with the fact that %40-%50 of marriages end in divorce not including the couples who stay together because they need support financially or are just staying together for the sake of their children for example. Some psychologists claim that “every human craves love aside from people with personality disorders.” This being true or not, if you look at our society, this is true whether everybody likes to admit it or not. Therefore, love is one of the most craved things amongst humans, while loneliness is one of the most feared. The fear of loneliness and the fact of marriage being convenient will keep couples from divorcing. However, divorce has lost its bad connotation towards women and as the wage gap is lessening the idea of divorce is becoming more popular.
“love is the most powerful force in the entire world, but we have to start with ourselves.”
The Philosophy of Love
Starting off with a very influential philosopher, Plato came up with the idea that there is someone out there for everyone, AKA a soul mate. He talks about how the soul is separate from the body and that it doesn’t need the body to exists. It’s almost as if the body holds back the soul, since the soul can function in the nature of the forms better than in the body. Love is the closest form that our souls that are contained in our crippling body can feel. Plato’s idea that he put out there that there is someone out there for everyone keeps people searching for love for their entire lives. Philosopher, Robert Rowland Smith said that love and intercourse are entangled, however you can have one without the other.
Why did I choose these questions and this topic?
Love has been introduced to us at a very young age. Starting with Disney fairytale and children books about princes and princesses living happily ever after. As Heather Chapman said, the young royalty that is said to live happily ever after in all these stories, never seem to define what happily ever after means. Does it end in divorce? Do they have kids and truly stay in love forever? Do they just stay together because they are afraid of being alone? At the end of the day these are all harsh possibilities. We all experience love at some point in our lives, whether it be for your dog or cat, your parents, your siblings, or your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse or just your love for food. Whichever it is, we have all been through it so I thought it would be an interesting topic.