These days, I cringe when I hear the word love or someone tells me about the concept of “love at first sight”. Both seem to be perpetuated nauseatingly everywhere I look. Everyone seems to be in love, walking hand in hand, kissing on the street not even overly pointing out all the love movies and songs. Among my friends, I see many different versions of this magic force that depict awesome connections, insane emotions but also tons of patience and understanding.
When I was a child, I believed in love at first sight. Sort of like, you meet someone in High School and stay together forever. “He is the one”, I told my friend Julia in grade 9. Needless to say, he was not. I started looking for another “the one”, followed by others. Recently, I analyzed this love process a bit closer. Every time I started to experience stronger feelings for someone (
anything he said or did that felt really awesome and made me happy) some sort of unexplainable chemistry started to develop within me. These weird, special moments like getting lost in his brown, grey eyes or this moment when I looked at someone long enough at a museum who seemed nerdy like me and he finally walked over to ask me out for coffee ( turned out to be a creep). Things like this happen in New York all the time.
Meeting someone new always had this effect on me that when I liked something about him, that this is automatically it. In a heartbeat, it is necessary to move in together as quickly as possible because this is how you get to know the other person. However, pretty quickly, things start to bother me and I regret the decision made in a heat wave of most certainly irrational attraction. Analyzing these moments, I think that they were all pretty irrational, impulsive and evaded total comprehensions of my brain’s left hemisphere. Usually, if a relationship did not feel like a couple of shots of Black Label mixed with a private internal train crash right away, I thought something was wrong.
So, what was this all about? Obsession? 50 shades of Grey? What I thought back then was that love is not patient, slow-moving or kind. If something feels good or okay, let’s rush into it with full force. What about romance, patience or just taking it slow? On my quest for knowledge, I stumbled upon an article by biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D., who calls romantic love “a craving” and “an addiction”. After studying many love-st(r)uck brains, the research shows that people in love “exhibit activity in the same brain regions that become active when one is addicted to cocaine and other drugs”. Speaking from my experience, there is usually a problem trying to integrate feelings, thought and weird hormones at the same time. It all seems to end up in a strong cocktail of heated-happy-sad confusion. “Dopamine is key, ” she says. “The neurotransmitter is the central component of the brain’s reward system – the brain system that gives the lover focus, energy, motivation, and craving for the beloved.” This all so familiar feeling of we cannot get enough of each other. Constantly waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for text messages … stuff like that. “I can’t think of any bigger reward than falling in love,” Fisher says. Duh!
Is this specific awesome feeling of getting lost while looking into someone’s eyes “love” or do I need to differentiate between infatuation and love? In my opinion, love is many things at once since love is. It happens in phases over a period of time and either grows in meaning and depth or it simply does not. Fisher adds the strong drive “affects us on a more personal level”. So, the original seed of love may be intense, full of physical attraction and infatuation but I have to/should have look(ed) at the whole picture by using my brain and thought. Without using the brain, infatuation is inevitable. It happened to me that I hit it off with someone right away. This feeling that I know him forever. He is my soulmate. This sensation usually occurred in milliseconds and I was completely absorbed in the other person. Of course, this did not mean it will automatically lead to a long-lasting relationship loaded with love.
I believe, when something does not turn into a solid relationship it does not mean it was not love. It was some type of love, maybe not capital-L- Love. When passion and intimacy die, the feeling of closeness, connectedness, and bondness, the base starts to crumble and the relationship is over. If partners do not let this happen, love can get bigger, stronger and even may expand beyond the initial obsessive absorption. The decision and commitment to be together is usually mutual as well as a choice and both partners want to maintain that emotional connection and the treasure the chemistry of friendship. That is probably my favorite things about it all. That I can decide what love is for me and with whom I want to deepen the hormone monster of obsessive force.