Romantic love is a hormonal rush that screws you up. It is basically awful and yet also the best experience there is
If you search online for falling in love, the first result returned is: What are the symptoms of falling in love? Symptoms. Because what is falling in love if not our brains and bodies riddled with all-encompassing, uncontrollable sensations? Can love be diagnosed? Yes, pretty much, according to Freud. And there is a genuine condition known as broken-heart syndrome, if things head west.
Falling in love and being in love are different things. Its falling in love that really screws you up. It is falling in love that leads one to play songs on repeat platitudinous, cloying numbers, that would never otherwise be countenanced.
It is basically awful and yet also the best thing that can be experienced; the worlds most natural high, no matter what free climbers tell you. There is a joyful optimism to falling in love, like ruining a crossword two clues in and still ploughing on, feeling that somehow it will come good.
Falling in love is the bus pulling into the stop just as you arrive. Its accidentally putting a red sock in a whites wash and nothing coming out pink. Its a gloriously sunny day in November. It is being offered a free upgrade on a 10-hour flight.
It is looking into your beloveds face as if their features were a scientific breakthrough. It is seeing a copse of trees in a cluster of freckles. It is looking at a sweeping staircase and envisioning the wave of your lovers hair. Everything is art. Everything is tangible.
Its odd, really, that the heart is the organ so associated with love. Of course it beats faster in the presence of the object of our affection or even when they are in our thoughts. But thats thanks to hormones rushing the brain: adrenaline makes the heart hammer; oxytocin encourages bonding (the love hormone); dopamine (the pleasure hormone); the surge of sex hormones that are how shall we say? Distracting. Very distracting. But perhaps you feel love most powerfully in the gut. It also makes one giddy, perhaps not entirely sane. Romantic love is an obsession, it possesses you, as Dr Helen Fisher has said, an anthropologist who wrote the book on love (its called Why We Love).
Newtons third law is that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. When it comes to falling in love, this can go one of two ways. One results in hours and hours discovering things about each other and finding each insight endlessly fascinating. The other, of course, is a lot of solo Netflix and junk food and terrifying near-misses liking old Instagram pics. They say falling in love is like walking on air.. But it isnt, really. Its flying.