Science of love | Sunday Observer

Science of love

5 December, 2021

Jerry Fleishman once asked a dear old Quaker lady, distinguished for her youthful looks, what she used to preserve her appearance. She replied sweetly, “I use for the lips, truth; for the voice, prayer; for the eyes, pity; for the hand, charity; for the figure, uprightness; and for the heart, love.” The traditional view of love is that it has something to do with your heart or your feelings.

As human feelings cannot be dissected in a laboratory, people thought love is an art. However, those living in the 21st century sometimes question whether love is an art or a science.

Today there is a lot of scientific research testifying to the power of love to help you stay healthy, live longer, and feel happier. According to experts, Cupid can prevent illness. For instance, happily marrieds have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and pneumonia. Love eases pain.

There is scientific evidence to prove that a happy marriage can bring relief from rheumatoid arthritis, head and backache and even pain from an electric shock. Doctors in North Carolina say hugging can bring down high blood pressure in women.

Similarly, when you are in a happy relationship, it will make you less likely to be depressed. A recent study in New York confirms that the buzz you get when you fall in love is similar to a cocaine hit and it is cheaper, harmless and legal!

It is easy to fall in love, but difficult to preserve it. We live in an enormously stressful world where everyone is hurried and worried. Most of us watch television instead of talking to our loved ones. It is harmful for the preservation of love. Instead of daydreaming about an exciting relationship, we should cultivate the capacity to love those who are near and dear to us. Love takes time to grow in our hearts. Experts say taking the time to plot a rendezvous, far from inhibiting sexuality, can kindle it.

Golden touch

Some men and women are born with the golden touch. They have an intuitive understanding of sensuality: how and when to touch and move. Those not born with it can learn how to develop their own sensibilities to give and receive pleasure.

Most love affairs go on the rocks because lovers do not know how to give and receive love. The act of loving can be compared to cooking. In the city sophisticated women start cooking while watching a television program or reading a book of recipes. In villages most women are born cooks. They instinctively know how to put a meal together without making a fuss. They do not follow recipes and measure out the ingredients carefully.

According to scientists, the most important tool we have in sustaining a relationship is communication. In a love affair or marriage, problems arise. They should be faced, discussed and dealt with. If you can express what you really need, do so without shame or fear.

It will produce surprising results. Sometimes, women may say “I’m afraid you’ll leave me if I say what I really want.” A lover or husband will respond by saying that he did not know how she felt that way. One of the greatest problems in a relationship lies in the assumption that the partners should automatically sense what they really want.

Countless nuances of emotional feelings occur when you are in love. You can become sensitive to such changes by carefully reading your lover’s reaction.

In the past very few scientists conducted research into human courtship. There was a broad consensus that patterns of flirting, sex and marriage were culturally determined and they were not subjects for scientists. However, modern scientists have gone on to assemble a remarkable body of evidence that human beings select mates, marry, cheat on each other and even get divorced in predictable patterns.

Men are from Mars

There is no need to stress the point that men and women are different. In fact, Dr John Gray in his path-breaking book “Men are from Mars women are from Venus” says, “Men and women differ in all areas of their lives. Not only do men and women communicate differently but also they think, feel, perceive, react, respond, love, need, and appreciate differently.

They seem to be from different planets, speaking different languages and needing different nourishment.” Today scientists say men and women are different because of four million years of evolution.

Men are still more aggressive than women. Their innate aggressiveness has motivated men to excel in business and politics. Despite women’s lib, women still prefer such high status males as sex partners and love mates. Some women, however, have been successful in the male-dominated world of anthropology, but they are few and far between.

If you trace the history of human behaviour, you will meet many philosophers who have waxed eloquently on the subject. The 17th century philosopher John Locke described the mind of a child as a “tabula rasa” or blank tablet upon which any life imaginable could be written.

In the 19th century Charles Darwin came up with his theory of natural selection, putting more emphasis on nature. In the wake of World War II “Social Darwinism” was thrown on the scrap heap. In the 20th century scientists believed that the dominant force that shaped human beings was culture.

Human behaviour

In ‘Anatomy of Love’ Dr. Helen Fisher examines the ancient drives that draw men and women together, weld them into a couple and, perhaps eventually tear them apart. Some readers were alarmed by the ideas expressed in the book, but the author was not advocating infidelity, adultery, or divorce. She was simply explaining the basic aspects of human behaviour.

In the 21st century, some men and women do not appear to know the distinction between love and lust. Lust and infatuation are not aspects of love.

Lust is driven by brain chemistry and it is a dangerous game because lust drives you to sleep with any man or woman for the sake of sex. The powerful chemicals can produce feelings of attachment driving you to become emotionally involved with someone who is quite incompatible.

On the other hand, romantic love is associated with different chemicals. Love produces dopamine which generates obsessive feelings about the sexual partner. From an evolutionary perspective, it ensures that both parties will live together. The duration of such a union is decided by other social factors. Even infatuation is characterized by intrusive thinking about the loved one.

Brain chemistry

Most of us have experienced the intoxication produced by romance. This is due to brain chemistry. It is possible that the brain’s nerve endings may become habituated to high levels of natural stimulants. Such feelings, however, subside after a few years. According to Fisher, feelings of love fall into three basic categories: sexual, romantic and attachment love. Preserving sexual passion and romance including attachment will require some effort.

Whether you consider love as an art or science, it is still a pleasant sensation. To experience it is a matter of chance. If you can fall in love, you are lucky. Human beings are starved for love. That is why they watch endless numbers of films about happy and unhappy love stories and listen to hundreds of love songs. All of us have the capacity to love and to be loved. Love sustains life in a myriad ways. [email protected]