Irrational behaviour – falling in love

Posted on May 24, 2011. Filed under: Gender Relations |

Having been somewhat familiar with love of varying types over the years, I thought I might as well try to understand it. I’ve come up with little, lol.

It is a topic with which everyone is familiar; but we all have various views on its meaning, purpose and manifestation/expression.

I’ve shared various views on the matter but this time I chose to research it a little deeper, came across two helpful authors – Anthropologist Helen Fisher and Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins.

Fisher, in her book – Why We Love, suggests that romantic love is insane because of what it strictly requires/expects – devotion to 1 and only 1.

As a man I tend to agree with her. If I know 100 women and fall in love with only 1, how would I really know how ‘lovable’ the others are? How could I make an “informed choice”?

Ideally, humans should be given the opportunity to explore, investigate and keep options open.

When people are in love they speak of their beloved like they’re the best person in the world, only to be proven wrong later( in some cases). When in love we tend to “put all our eggs in one basket”, when I was a child I learned this was a dangerous practice.

Often times the only person you can compare the current beloved to is a horrible ex. Proving that quite often we make romantic errors and execute poor judgement when “in love”. We shouldn’t have put them on a pedestal.

Fisher further suggests that while we have become susceptible to monogamous love, ‘polyamory’ might be a more RATIONAL approach.

Polyamory is the belief that one can simultaneously lover several members of the opposite sex, just as one can love more than one wine, composer, book or sport.

Think about it, we all accept that we can love more than one child, parent, sibling, teacher, friend or pet. So don’t you find it a bit weird that we ‘expect’ romantic love to be exclusive?

Dawkins highlights that work done by Fisher and others, has shown that “being in love is accompanied by unique brain states, including the presence of neurally active  chemicals (natural drugs) that are highly specific and characteristic of the state” of being in love.

Dawkins explains from a Darwinian point of view that maybe monogamous love spurred from a need to protect the species via co-parenting for the raising of a family.

Essentially, a very important task humans try to accomplish is choosing one good partner for all sorts of reasons. But once the choice is made and a child conceived, then it is more important to stick with that one choice at least until the child is weaned. Many times people stay together “for the kids” after the love has long gone. We’ve seen or heard of how terrible that can be.

Any route or explanation you choose, whether Fisher or Dawkins, it’s clear that being in love constitutes irrational behaviour – doesn’t make sense. It lacks logic.

Further, let’s think of crimes of passion or the severe depression which comes as the result of having one’s heart broken when in love.

Not every human brain is suited for being in love.

But what of the beauty and the indescribable experience of being in love, you might ask. Indeed it is a beautiful thing, but my experience has taught me that it is all a big risk.

Taking a risk like that is irrational, yet we still do it.

I know my fate is to join my ancestors in irrationality and say like the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson…

In Memoriam 27, 1850:

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.



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5 Responses to “Irrational behaviour – falling in love”

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While I always appreciate your writing, I am a little jaded at reading about “romantic” love as a short term brain chemical imbalance in order for human beings to wean their young. There are many relationship that have love everlasting. What is the reason for this? Scientist have studied the human need for belonging, acceptance and attachment and show that there are psychological needs met by love long after the initial brain chemical rush wears off. It would be nice to see an article written with the research of scientists like R. Baumeister, M. Leary, E. Hattfield or C. Hazan that explore these concepts amongst others such as compassionate love for example.

good one Garth— I choose to take the risk— risks can bring rewards–

Awwee The Love Boat– fond memories of watching it every Sunday on JBC– good times

Excellent write Mr. Williams. I must say that I agree with every word. My take however is that it is pointless to not love. And I do believe in loving one partner… and yes I have been disappointed, heartbroken, and shattered to pieces. But loving again is worth the previous pain.
Peace

Great article Garth. No comments about the insanity or not of being in love. I’m still trying to work out where I stand on the issue 🙂

great article, however I think that being in love and being in a monogamous relationship are two different things. One’s chemical and the other is rational. For most of us, we choose to be in a monogamous relationship even if you can’t choose with whom you ‘fall’ in love.


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