Rivers of ink and thousands of sheets of paper have been destined to talk about him, songs give us an idea of how he feels, movies recreate how painful it can be. But what is love?
“Love is an unprecedented feeling that cannot be described or put into words. The only way to know what it is is from the lover himself ”, he considers Ricardo Trujillo Correa, from the Faculty of Psychology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
Love is felt and expressed differently in all cultures, he adds.
What exists and is universal is physical attraction, but not necessarily love as a social construction.
If we think that love is the one that comes to marriage, we can make a mistake since for centuries this union was rather an arrangement or contract in a political and social sense.
Trujillo Correa mentions that we could think of it as a very successful friendly relationship, but that is not necessarily love.
Nor does he consider that love is only that first stage in which butterflies are felt in the stomach and everything is idealized by the effervescence of hormones; rather, he is in favor of you love a person more the more you go into it.
“Love implies a recreation of a constant feeling, it carries an affective depth and that in this society is not so feasible”, says the teacher in psychoanalytic theory and doctor in critical theory.
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What does contemporary culture say about love?
Trujillo Correa refers to the book The saturated self by Kenneth J. Gergen that explains a world saturated with objects in which depth cannot be generated in front of them.
For example, if a child had 1,000 toys, he could not delve into any of them, but if he had only one toy, when he sees it after a while he perceives all the depth of feelings that came to him because it was the only thing, what happens in this society with love ”.
There is a cult of personality and individualism, and social networks are the proof of this.
The specialist turns to Zygmunt Bauman, who in the book Liquid Modernity describes a society that is constantly flowing and cannot and does not want to take the time to stop and delve into a person and not only physically but also cognitively.
“Love demands time, contemplation and waiting. And we don’t want to give ourselves that luxury, which is why we look for partners who shock or excite us all the time. And this is the great tragedy of postmodern society, we spend it looking for people who suddenly only satisfy our desire. Love is on the opposite side: it implies stopping and looking at the other ”.
Another paradox of modern love is that Western pop culture worships mortal love.
We have the idea that love is totality, ecstasy, beauty and happiness, but the most successful stories show fatality like Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, which ends in tragedy or the movie Titanic, one of the highest grossing in the history of cinema. , which ends with the death of the co-star.
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Love is experienced holistically
In love it is not all biochemical substances, not all mind, not all body.
Ignacio Camacho Arroyo, a researcher at the National Institute of Perinatology and professor at the Faculty of Chemistry at UNAM, explains that as an object of study it is very recent and a whole world is missing to know, for example, the sex hormones, progesterone and testosterone, which are crucial for infatuation and the reproductive aspect, They have also been found in brain tumors, what is their role and how do they get there? It is still unknown.
Our body is interconnected, so when falling in love is experienced, substances participate: the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine; opioid peptides like vasopressin, oxytocin, and hormones like adrenaline.
“In the first stage of falling in love, especially, is when butterflies are experienced in the stomach and the heart beats stronger. They are changes where the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems participate. Its activation is mediated by adrenaline and noradrenaline ”, indicates Camacho Arroyo.
The pulse speeds up because the person is in a state of moderate stress or uncertainty mediated by these catecholamines, abounds.
If the situation goes into a state of chronic stress, it is not healthy and you have to flee from there.
“Relationships are not to suffer, they are to enjoy, to support you, so that you are healthy.”
Today love relationships at a distance are common and it is valid because the main condition is that they be pleasant and although there is no physical contact, communication makes it rewarding to maintain that relationship.
“The only person you can’t be with is someone whose smell you dislike and you won’t know that until you live in person. And it is not because its smell is annoying but rather it is a very subjective perception that depends on each individual ”.
Does the crush have an expiration date?
How long does falling in love last? In a love relationship there is a first stage of falling in love that involves passionate love and lasts from six to eight months, if it survives this stage, it later gives way to love as a couple, according to Raúl Martínez Mir, attached to the University of Sonora (Unison).
In this first stage, the brain secretes serotonin, the hormone of happiness, and as time passes it is reduced and oxytocin is produced in substitution, a hormone that has to do with a more stable relationship.
The doctor from the Department of Psychology and Communication Sciences indicates that this first stage is characterized by an ’emotional blindness’ in which defects and failures of the other person are omitted, so it is recommended not to make relevant decisions in that period.
Add that infatuation is a neurotic psychosis, a process where the person feels the desire and attraction for a stimulus that is the loved one, but there can also be a process of anxiety before the potential loss of the partner.
The longer they share this anxiety tends to disappear.
Researcher Ignacio Camacho Arroyo adds that the next stage of love involves sexual activity and the third would be defined by a love of company, which has been together for many years and the point that marks continuity are common projects.
At each stage there are changes in brain activity, in neurotransmitters, in hormone levels.
The science of heartbreak
This mental, emotional and bodily discomfort is described by scientists as if it were a withdrawal very similar to that experienced by people addicted to some drug. Because love hurts?
And it is that the areas of the brain that are activated before the pleasure and joy of love are the same that activate stimulants such as cocaine.
In 2005, Lucy Brown and colleagues at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York found that the ventral tegmental area (AVT) and the caudate nucleus are brain areas where motivation is experienced.
Dopamine, a neurotransmitter related to desire and arousal, is released in the AVT, it is produced in the early stages of infatuation and is as stimulating as a drug, but when it stops being released because of a love breakup, anxiety, depression and even obsession can occur. .
In 2010, Brown and colleagues discovered that when heartbreak is experienced, the aforementioned areas are activated along with the prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex, involved in the regulation of emotions, addiction and anxiety. The insula and anterior cingulate cortex related to physical pain are also activated, which could explain the pain of a broken heart.
Time heals lovesickness, affirms Camacho Arroyo.
“You have to go through a period of mourning and for that it is important to recognize what you did well and what you did wrong. That period of reflection is necessary, and after it is over, one can enroll in a new relationship. In extreme cases, when there is depression and anxiety, it may be necessary to go to the psychiatrist ”.