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What is love?

What is love?

Howard Jones and later, Haddaway asked the same question. I’m not sure if either got any answers but I seem to be asking myself that more and more at the moment.

I’m not talking of the love for your parents or children or siblings. I’m referring to the kind of love that makes your heart leap and your fingers tingle, which squeezes you right to the core of your being. That giddiness, those butterflies in your stomach, the swelling in your chest, the glow on your face. It’s that love that I talk of, falling in love.

Whatever the circumstances of meeting that special person, the emotions are generally the same. The awareness of a change that is happening inside you. An awakening desire. A look, a message, a gesture; it can melt a frozen heart and scale the highest walls, it can make you the happiest person in the world, you are invincible, being in love gives you so much strength.

But that same love can also cripple you with hurt, that feeling of your stomach been kicked in and your gut ripped from you, the twisting, the pain; like a knife to your chest, turned, again and again till the life is gone from you. Your arms go numb, you can’t think straight. How is it that something that gives you so much joy can also bring you to your knees in soul destroying pain?

I am not the first to ponder and ask, I won’t be the last either. So long as we are living and breathing, love is something we all need, we all crave and long to love and be loved by a certain someone. The one who can make everything feel right when you’ve had an awful day. Who knows your moods and accepts you for whom and what you are, understands your insecurities and embraces them as part of you. The person you want to share your excitement with when you accomplish something. You want to see the pride in their eyes. You share the same sense of humour, you can talk for hours and even when you are annoyed with the other, you still care. We all want to have that person who makes our soul sing and who we desire like no other but to love unconditionally is a difficult thing and not something humans are good at.

Science says love is a chain of chemical reactions that happen in our brain. Falling in love is a beautiful trap set up by nature that we cannot fight. They break it up into 3 stages – Lust, attraction and attachment, with each stage involving different chemical reactions in the brain and releasing hormones with long unpronounceable names that I can’t spell without looking them up. I can spell Oxytocin though, and that’s the ‘cuddle hormone’ which is associated with the attachment part of love. I think I like Oxytocin.

Love feels good, those hormones make it so, but along with it comes those horrors like jealousy, irrationality, erratic behavior and other unsavoury moods and emotions. Those blasted hormones give with one hand and take back with the other! Dopamine for example… he can be a bastard, making us feel wonderful one minute and then knocks us off our perch without warning. Thanks to him we are much like drug addicts when it comes to love; we become emotionally dependent and then go into withdrawal when faced with rejection.

I watch my teenage daughter coming out of her first love. She astonishes me with her resilience and level headedness. When I went through that at her age, I was devastated. She had a good cry, posted a couple of stunning picture of herself on snapchat, the holy grail of teenage communication, and told him there are plenty of other fish in the sea. She’ll just have to comb through all the plastic to find the right one.

Regardless what science or love gurus or anyone for that matter say, I personally don’t think we can control our hearts. They have a mind of their own when it comes to who we fall in love with. There are those who believe there is but one true love, one soul mate for us, and others who believe in many, in sharing the love. And we are all slightly different in our perception of love and our beliefs. I am not a stickler for either. I have fallen in love, I have lost someone I loved, I have had my heartbroken and been kicked to the curb. As we change and grow, so do our needs and desires. Different people attract us for different reasons, but once you have loved someone, can you ever really erase them from your mind?

In the end, everyone will have their own definition of love and what it means to them. I still haven’t found the answer in my nonsensical ramblings but if it’s all just to do with hormones and “chemistry” maybe one day there really will be a “magic potion” to help us find the love of our life or the love of the moment.


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