Hopeless in Love: How We Love, and Why We Love the Wrong People
I recently came to question my understanding of love. Talking with people, it seems that my love leads to extreme emotions and irrational decisions that many others can avoid. Indeed, to some I seemed like a freak. Maybe they are right, it has been a long time since my last working relationship. Is it because I am a child of divorced parents? Did someone hurt me when I was younger? Even subjectively love seems to be impossible to understand, but I went out in search of answers as to whether there is something wrong with me.
What the hell is my body doing when it falls in love? Why do I go for girls who I think are too good for me. Normally then love is accompanied by incredible rushes when I am with the person giving me a few days of happiness. A few days later when I realised I probably misread everything, I am plunged into the deepest depths of my emotions. I am filled with self-doubt and self-loathing, disgusted that I could ever think that such a lovely creature could be interested in me.
Indeed, the early stage of love is a time of tears for me. Not that I let my love know this, I play perfectly cool, almost uninterested. My desire to see to them, or message them is held back like floodwaters by sandbags. When my true feelings are so violent, it seems imperative that I don’t reveal any of them. When not filled with the Euphoria of their company I am filled with the self-shame of knowing that no-one feels this way about me. More hopeless than romantic.
You may think this sounds like I am unbalanced, and you would be right. As I discovered, love affects the chemicals that flow through your bodies.
‘The nerve transmitters adrenaline and phenylethylamine increase when two people are attracted to each other that puts them in emotional overdrive. Additionally, the relaxation, feel good hormone serotonin lowers, causing you to obsess about your lover and consistently reflect back on the romantic times spent with him or her'.
Okay, so far so good. But what about who those feelings attach to? You might meet someone who is perfectly compatible with you, attractive and likable, but then there is no ‘love’. Of late, what I have come to believe is loves spark has been a response to people who I wouldn’t even want to have as friends. Even though all my friends warn me it is doomed to fail, I happily plunge headlong to my destruction.
My most recent flame was lit by a person who told me she though Adam Goodes was as bad as Alan Jones or Andrew Bolt. She also said she voted for Abbott (leave aside your ‘but we vote for MP’s not the PM’) and that she would do it again. For a soft lefty with compassion for my fellow human beings, this should have sent me running to the nearest exit. It didn’t.
Moreover, this lass had the tendency to completely fuck me over. It took about 4 apologised rejections before I finally had come to my senses enough to take the advice of my friends and stop asking for more emotional destruction. But three prior rejections and (confusingly) abuse from her and her friends had by then chipped away at the feelings I had for her.
But what was I doing? It was like what I would normally see as her faults had simply been ignored. It turns out that this is normal too.
‘when people look at their lovers, the neural circuits that are normally associated with critical social assessment of other people are suppressed’
So it turns out that maybe my experience of love isn’t so wrong. Maybe those smug people who have a purely enjoyable time of falling in love are less primitive than me. They have adapted to better overcome a biological imperative. But when that imperative exists in order to protect and maintain social and familiar bonds, perhaps I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.
It turns out the euphoria and self-doubt are normal parts of falling in love, and they are inherently human. Even falling for people that don’t seem right to you is a result of your body’s natural response to love. That is not to say that we shouldn’t try to find better partners or be kinder to ourselves when we are in love, but don’t beat yourself up if you struggle. We are only human after all.