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The Art And Science Of Love

couple in love

Love , Lust And Romance

What is our behaviour, when we see a memberof the opposite sex?

Has it changed in today’s world where men and women work together and share their knowledge and workplace? But surprisingly social Anthropologists are coming to the conclusion that the innate reaction has been same, through the ages.
We tend to behave in a knee jerk fashion when we are in the presence of an attractive member of the opposite sex. If we put an eligible man and woman within three metres of each other and they will often launch into some courtship behaviour, that evolved long ago. This has been the observation of Dr. Helen Fisher, a physical anthropologist. Her research has been in the field of human courtship.
It was generally believed that the patterns of flirting, sex and marriage were culturally determined and therefore varied from one country to another.
But according to Fisher, human beings select their mates, marry, cheat on each other and even get divorced following certain predictable norms. These norms are as old as the species itself.
Fisher’s central idea starts with the notion that men and women are basically very different in their temperaments. But this difference is not because we have been raised in a patriarchal society. She believes that four million years of our evolution have given them very different temperament and brains. Men are intrinsically more aggressive than women; this aggressiveness has helped then to be more successful in business and politics.
Throughout history, philosophers had put a lot of stress on culture, for shaping human character. In the 17th century John Locke the English philosopher described the mind of a child as a ‘blank tablet’ on which anything could be written .Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection put the emphasis on nature. His view was accepted till the 20th century, later his views were questioned by the eugenicist and the Nazis. They said that natural selection proved that white race was inherently superior .Again by the middle of the 20th century; the belief was that dominant force that shaped us was, culture.
With 60s came the Vietnam War and feminism, free love and black power. The prevailing belief of the day was that all human beings were virtually interchangeable. Boys and girlswould grow up alike if the Barbie dolls and the GI Joes were taken away from them.
A big insight came to Helen Fisher in 1988 when she came across some divorce statistics from 62 countries, going back to 1947. “Incredibly, the statistics seemed to show that people tend to divorce around the four year mark. To me, it clearly suggested that divorce might not be a cultural malaise but an aspect of our inherited mating behaviour”.
In the animal kingdom many animals stay together only long enough to rear a single litter through infancy.  In humans the average time required to raise a child past infancy is 4 years.  In her book Anatomy of Love, Fisher has tried to explain the basic aspects of human nature.
Most couples do survive the four year crisis. What is the bond that holds them together? Is it friendship, dependency, sexual heat? Most of us would call it love. Fisher’s research shows that lust, infatuation and long term attachment are distinct drives.
Lust is not love. Lust is driven by the desire for sex .But it raises the levels of oxytocin and vasopressin.These powerful chemicals produce feelings of attachment, and you can become emotionally involved.
Romantic love or infatuation is associated with a different barrage of chemicals. Romantic love produces dopamine, which generates obsessive feelings about the sexual partner. Fisher says that while lovers are literally intoxicated by romance, the feeling fades. It is possible that the brains nerve endings become habituated to high levels of natural stimulants or the levels of chemical begin to drop. Either way it takes two to three years for the felings to subside. For some relationship that is the beginning of an end.
Viewing all this from a womans perspective Fisher felt that the feeling of love can be divided into three categories: sexual, romantic, and attachment love. Long term love can have some of each, but preserving sexual passion and romance and even attachment requires lot of work. Fisher says that for couples who survive the end of the infatuation period in their relationship can make a transition into what she calls attachment. As infatuatiion subsides attachment grows, so do the chemicals oxytocin and vasopressin.Unlike dopamine these chemicals calm us down. When two people are happily attached, they feel a sense of peace and security.
Helen Fisher believes,that love, which is one of our strongest emotions will never be demystified. We can know about all the chemicals that surge in our mind at different times, but still when love beckons us we won’t sit and analyse.

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Posted by Omkarr singh on Tuesday, January 01, 2013. Filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

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