I fed my inner nerd on this morning listening to the most recent episode of StarTalk; the popular podcast featuring the illustrious astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. It was an episode about love. They featured a renowned biological anthropologist, Dr. Helen Fisher. They discussed the biological underpinnings of what happens when we are in love, and have our hearts broken.
Basically, wanting to love someone, desiring a mate is a biological condition bestowed upon us by evolution and there is absolutely no cure for this desire. We are a species designed to be in pairs.
We are addicted, in a very real way to this feeling. When we are “in love” many of the same areas of our brain light up as when we are on euphoric drugs. Similarly, when we are rejected, the areas of our brain which signal physical pain can also light up. Broken hearts cause us to lose our appetites, suffer chest pains and heart palpitations. Interestingly enough, aspirin can help.
When love is going well, it is a positive thing. When it is not, we are miserable. And yet, we have no ability to eradicate this natural instinct to focus on it.
Valentine’s Day is a collective reminder of these things. If you are in an upswing in your romantic life, you are prone to express your feelings to the world. Facebook released some interesting data on couples who announce their relationships via social media. In the days following a relationship status update, posts trend more positively than previous months. Conversely, if you are on a down-swing in your romantic life, we all notice the sardonic humor. We all have different ways of expressing something which literally hurts.
Regardless, there isn’t a single one of us alive who is immune to the condition of desiring a partner. Dating apps increase their membership 30-60% on Valentines. So for those who have said things to me like, “it will happen when you stop looking” or “why are you putting so much energy into it” and my personal favorite, “maybe you’re not ready for a relationship”… I want to say something out of my love for you: Go fuck yourself.
I am human and I want what we all want… to love and be loved.