Monday, February 15, 2010

Love Hangover

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Did everyone have a successful Valentine's Day? Replete with chocolate, swooning, snuggling and ummm.. other stuff?

How about today? Did you wake up next to the same farting, snoring, hairy creature of a few days ago?Welcome to the Love Hangover.

February 15th is the day that we start to think "what is all this love business?" Too bad it is just simple chemistry. That spark of the first date = endorphins and adrenaline. The swoon of the first kiss = probably just an overactive sense of smell. And that tender feeling after the whole bedroom thing is over = oxytocin.

Oxytocin is a chemical most famous for inducing labour. But I can't say I'm surprised to find that childbirth is induced by something also used for creating interpersonal attachments. Both often painful. The hormone stimulates a very tiny area of the brain associated with reward. But this area of the brain is also associated with stress and anxiety. Again, I'm not surprised.

I don't mean to knock love or the inkling of it. Love is incredible, its fascinating and demanding and rewarding and difficult all at the same time. But it is also a physiological response. There is something at the biological level that connects you to your partner, there is a scientific basis for the butterflies in your tummy and the sharp intake of breath at the sight of him or her.

We will probably never understand the love of poets and writers at the scientific level. But we may very well start to explain it.

--Torah Kachur

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