Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sex, Chocolate and Sometimes Love

Credit: Georgia Harvey

I am a scientific person. I believe in the big bang theory and Darwinism. I would combat cancer, God forbid, with chemotherapy over Chinese herbs. I think life after death is optimistic at best, and that climate change sceptics are either naive or just plain stupid. Yet I cannot deny the fact I believe in love. But what is love?

The Oxford Dictionary defines love as:
  1. A strong feeling of affection
  2. A great interest or pleasure in something
  3. A person or thing that one loves
  4. And a score of zero in some sports (irrelevant here, but amusing nonetheless!)
Then again, the contributors of the Oxford Dictionary are most likely single pompous males over sixty.

Romeo and Juliet had a much more poetic opinion: "Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night."

But this is Poppet's Window, and I am Poppet. So if you have come this far, this is what I think: love is a word, created by society (who knows, maybe even the Church!) that describes a very specific feeling. It is the same feeling you get when traveling in a completely foreign country, when someone dies, during a job interview, and before an exam. Often, people refer to it as 'butterflies in the belly.' The only difference separating love from the above scenarios is that you feel it towards a specific person, which unless you live in some parts of America, does not have to be someone of the opposite sex. Even more precisely, you feel certain things towards this person. Initially the desire to sleep with them, then later on the trust that you will desire their company for an extended period of time.

How many starry-eyed couples have cried out in despair that the word 'love,' used by billions of people every day, cannot possibly apply to them and their partner. Surely no one has ever felt as passionately and overwhelmed as they do right this moment! Sorry sweethearts, you are not alone. The word 'love' is a cliche. A cliche is a cliche because it captures something so perfectly that the word or phrase becomes overused to the point where it loses its meaning. If that someone special makes you feel like no one else can, and you continue to believe that indefinitely, all the while with a trace of butterflies, the cliche applies to you.

That's what I think. This is what I know: humans are animals, and animals reproduce. Attraction leads to reproduction. Big breasts and hourglass figures are signs of a good childbearing body, whereas muscles and a strong jaw line are indicative of strength and excellent hunting skills. While this leaves much unexplained with regards to all the men who currently fit into size 10 woman's pipe leg jeans, it holds a lot of merit.

Then there is the brain. Despite thousands of textbooks and research papers, we still know very little about the squishy pink abyss. But when in love, or more specifically during butterfly-belly-flight, the brain releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This chemical stimulates the sex drive, creates feelings of euphoria, and is also released when you eat chocolate. My two favourite things (neurotransmitters and chocolate, thank you very much!)

Apparently love is a drug. Addicts 'fall in love' more easily than your average person. The word 'addictive' actually describes love rather well and it all revolves around dopamine. So whether you are a chocoholic or a nymphomaniac, you are more likely to want chocolate than flowers on Valentine's Day. It makes you think twice when cooking. The other day I made some rather scrumptious chocolate biscuits with chocolate icing. My mother loved them. My father loved them. My brothers loved them. As did my boyfriend. Through combining a few ingredients, I effectively released the same neurotransmitters in my family members' and boyfriends' brains that make them horny, hungry and romantic... Gross.

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