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Oct 29

Sex, Lies, and Online Dating

by Lynn • October 29, 2010

Clips & Flicks

Safeguarding Your Love Life – Part 7

More of "The Brain On Love"
Fisher and fellow researchers’ study about the brain in love shows us that romantic love clearly corresponds with powerful chemical activity in the organ. But what did Fisher and fellow researchers ultimately learn about this powerful emotion?  Several things, Fisher notes.  First, that “romantic love is a drive. A basic mating drive.” “Not the sex drive,” she is quick to distinguish. That’s different. “That gives you a whole range of partners. Romantic love enables you to focus your mating energy on just one at a time – conserve your energy and start it with a single individual.”  Secondly, she noted, she learned that romantic love is “a need – an urge.  It is a homeostatic imbalance.  Like hunger or thirst, it’s almost impossible to stamp out.”  Last but not least, she noted, I learned that “Romantic love is an addiction. A perfectly wonderful one when it’s going well, and really horrible when it’s going poorly.”  And indeed, she observes, “it has all the characteristics of an addiction. You focus on the person – obsessively think about them. You crave them. You distort reality.” You have a “willingness to take enormous risks to be with this person….”  And, the three chief characteristics of addiction all apply:  “Tolerance – you need to see them more and more and more and more.” Withdrawal is commonly experienced, and one often encounters relapses too.  In conclusion, Fisher notes, “Romantic love is one of the most addictive substances on earth.”

Fisher wants us to know also that we are not the only ones who love. “Animals love too,” she notes.  In fact, “There is not an animal on this planet that will copulate with anything that comes along. Too old, too young, too scruffy, too stupid, and they won’t do it. Everywhere in the world, animals have favorites.”  And, “animal attraction can be instant,” she adds. Elephants have been known to notice and zero in on another even from a distance.  In fact, this sort of instant attraction most likely represents the “origins of what we call ‘Love at first sight.’”

When asked whether knowing all she does about romantic love has spoiled it for her, Fisher responds with ease, “Hardly. You can know all the ingredients in a chocolate cake, but when you sit down and eat it you can still feel that joy.” She, like everyone else, she says, has not been immune to the experience, and has made all of the same mistakes most of us have.

There is one thing, however, that researchers still do not know, Fisher notes. That is, ‘Why we fall in love with one particular individual over another.’ Psychologists talk about many factors, she relates. They will tell you that people tend to fall in love with persons from similar socio-economic backgrounds. They know that people tend to choose persons of the same general level of intelligence and the same general level of good looks. They talk about how we tend to choose people with similar religious values. We know that childhood plays a role too, though no one knows exactly how.  Still, no one has been able to explain why, when presented with a group of people who meet all of these criteria we still may only select one, if any at all.

Researchers have never found “the way two personalities fit together and make a good relationship,” Fisher says. But, she believes that biology is involved, which is why she has made it the focus of the next chapter in her research. To that end, Fisher has devised a classification system based upon the degree to which persons express four different neurotransmitters and hormones in the body upon choosing their romantic partners. The particular chemical agents the research is tracking are dopamine, estrogen, serotonin and testosterone, each of which, whether on its own or in some combination, has been known to be closely linked to feelings of wellbeing, sex and love. Fisher hopes to be able to better gauge why people choose one person over another based upon how partners in romantic matches express these agents relative to their prospective mates.

In conclusion Fisher would like us to know that, “Love is in us. It is deeply embedded in the brain.” We here at Spokeo have no doubt. Which is why, before you get bit by the love bug, Spokeo encourages you to always people-search your date first. Checking out a prospective partner on a people-search engine like Spokeo before you become involved is a smart and easy step to take.  It is always best to find out all you can and help support a safe dating experience.  TO BE CONTINUED….

HELEN FISHER – THE BRAIN IN LOVE

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