Sci-Fi Heroine: The science of love

Love Bra-01

Graphic by Brett Ferrin

It’s that time of year when the stores are packed full of red, pink and white decorations, hearts and fluffy things that make you want to throw up unicorns. This year has left me wondering exactly how someone really knows they’re in love.

There are online tests out there that you take, but we either vehemently disagree with them or feel like they somehow validate our emotional attachments. I don’t know how scientifically sound those tests are. Is love what all the scientists and psychologists say, just a chemical reaction to someone else’s pheromones, or something that is more of a spiritual connection?

Japanese inventors think they understand what true love is. There is a new invention on the market called the Love Bra. This bra will only unclasp when the wearer is in love. Apparently, love is a steady heart rate that is elevated when you’re around that person.

So many flaws in this logic that true love can be based off of your elevated heartbeat. Anyone who has been in a relationship, either a long-term or short-term one, knows that it can take a bit to get that heart rate moving enough to unclasp anything. Does this mean that you love your partner any less?

What happens if you’re mugged? Your heart rate could elevate for an extended period of time, and maybe it’s just me, but I think that would be the most inopportune time for my bra to unclasp itself. No, Mr. Mugger, that wasn’t a signal.

What happens at the end of the night when you want to take your bra off to sleep? Do they make an app for that? Are you expected to elevate your own heartbeat? What if someone has issues with self-esteem? Maybe if we just stare at a picture of Johnny Depp, that’d be enough to make the bra fly open.

Dr. Helen Fisher has conducted studies on what parts of our brains light up when we experience passionate and romantic forms of love. The caudate nucleus is highly active when people experience these emotions. The areas of the brain associated with norepinephrine  and dopamine (chemicals released during pleasure and excitement) also show signs of activity.

While that twitterpation may be great for beginnings of a relationship, that tends to wear off after a while. What leads to a happy long-term coupling? Ted Huston has been studying long-term relationships, and found that couples who idealize each other have a successful and happier marriage.

Men and women are also different. According to Huston, women are happier the more social contact with their partner, friends and family they have, while men are happier when they aren’t concerned over their finances.

Most experts tell long-term couples that date night helps keep a relationship strong. There seems to be more science to back up that idea. Studies have shown that if couples experience new things together, the brain can release dopamine and norepinephrine, which was abundant in the beginning stages of the relationship.

So taking a new adventure to somewhere you’ve never been may help rekindle the flame lost after the years. Romantic picnics up Logan Canyon are always one of my suggestions.

It is so hard for me to accept that this is all love is. As someone who deems herself a very practical thinker and an advocate of logic, I know I should acknowledge that love is simply chemical. However, I’m not sure that I can.

So, while some, hopefully most, of you are experiencing the most epic date night of the year, remember to feel lucky that you have someone to enjoy holidays with.  

To those of us who are still looking for their Player 2 to co-op their lives with, remember, you’re not completely alone in feeling sorry for your single life this Valentine’s Day. 

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Posted by on February 9, 2014. Filed under Columns, Opinion, Science, Science & Tech, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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