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What is love (baby don't hurt me): A Little Clarity


Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of the contents of the amusing lyrical reference in my title. All apologies to Haddaway for the free advertisement.


It has been nearly a year since my column first began with a brief defense of the concept of romantic love. I have been such a defender of that very concept in subsequent articles over the course of this year that I may very well have been taken to be a fatalist. Particularly my recent advice that seeking out relationships rather then just letting them happen was a poor foundation for a proper relationship might have brought anyone to this conclusion. Lest I be labeled such a thing, I present as my anniversary gift to whatever loyal (and no doubt small) audience I have attracted over this past year my own little analysis of what love actually is both as a concept and as a literal chemical reaction. Keep in mind that I am not any sort of neuro-biologist or psychologist, though I have studied both extensively, and the following is merely my opinion based on personal experience and pure speculation.


We cannot know for sure the real nature of what we call love. We ascribe a higher meaning or value to it and we find it to be separate of other emotions and their decay and dualism (perhaps). We have no evidence of this higher value, except that we 'feel' it if indeed that is evidence. All of our experience is confined to what we feel so perhaps it is. Biologically love is a chemical reaction comprised of oxytocin and of endorphins, both chemicals that make us feel pleasant and often elated with the assumed neurological intention of encouraging the action. The survival value of love is obviously in breeding, and in ensuring the success of our offspring. This explains why we would be given to such a pleasant feeling as a natural reaction to one another (this is supported by the fact that oxytocin is released both during sexual intercourse by both sexes and by females after completion of the birthing process). The presence of the biological truth of human bonding does not decay the experience of it in any way. Love has the most curious ability to cure depression and give purpose to one's life. Whether or not believing that this or any human emotion is anything but a chemical reaction is idealism, one cannot argue with results.


We can point to the fact that we do experience a great deal of infatuation and lust and spend most of our interactions using each other but the truth is pure insanity to those on the ignorant side. For any who have never known what it is to worship another body rather then to use it; For any who do not know what it is to be with another human and feel truly happy then it just seems like madness. For all I can do to explain it away as a chemical reaction or a mandate of our drive to breed, I can't grasp the reality. Perhaps, realistically so, it could be that love is nothing more meaningful then lust, hunger, pleasure or anger but as I stated above, our existence is limited to our own experiences for each of us. If a feeling is exceptional as part of your own experience then no matter the actual chemical behind it or biological purpose of it, it is yet as exceptional as it feels.

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