Minority Opinions

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Your Brain on Love

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I read something recently framing Romeo and Juliet not as a romance, but as a story of teenage impulsiveness.  The intuitive portion of my mind combined that with musings about a relationship on trust, a song given to me years ago about love being for melting defences, and something else I once read about romance suppressing activity in certain parts of the brain.

We form relationships because they’re beneficial in many cases.  However, they’re also risky; nobody can hurt you as deeply and quickly as the one you care about most.  We normally avoid that kind of pain; however, falling in love can make us forget past pain, and ignore the possibility of future pain, at least for a few months.  After that, rationality starts to assert itself, requiring something extra if the relationship is to continue.

Ideally, that something extra is trust and comfort.  If you do little things to make each other happier each day, and you can trust each other to make reasonable decisions about the future, then true love sets in.  You start to understand each other on an intuitive level, working to complement each other for a better life.

More often, particularly in early relationships, nothing steps up.  The buzz wears off, you start to notice little annoyances, and you start to wonder what you were so happy about.  That’s okay, as long as you’re in a position to break up.  Move on and find someone better.  Just don’t do anything too insane during those first few months, such as, say, killing yourself.

More insidiously, some evil individuals will use manipulation as a substitute for trust.  By breaking down self-confidence and introducing a dependency (either way), they can keep an obviously unhealthy relationship going far too long.  Eventually, something usually gives way, but the victim can struggle to heal.

Occasionally, rational planning competes with emotional satisfaction.  Charlotte Lucas and William Collins come to mind, as an example of marrying for money; the couple can expect to trust each other, and may grow to love each other in time, but one or both might need to lower their guard by choice instead of emotion.  On the other hand, I once had a roommate who chose to marry someone because they were both crazy in the same way, and enjoyed that connection, despite having almost no prospects for the future.  Then, of course, you have the foolhardy teenagers who throw themselves into a destructive relationship despite all warnings to slow down.

I doubt we can ever completely suppress the dangers of youth, but I’m curious about the Dutch concept of teaching readiness.  Does a culture in which it’s okay to ask about a romantic sleepover mean they’re less likely to do something stupid?  I haven’t the foggiest, but I can expect that my children will need some sort of guidance within the next decade.  They’re fearless about making friends, and will doubtless be dating as soon as permissible.

For my part, I needed quite a bit of help simply to start opening my mouth.  Sometimes it was a roommate, sometimes an idea, and sometimes a simple need to move on.  Unfortunately, I failed to find that motivation before moving out of the house, though there are one or two people I really should have gotten to know better.


Written by eswald

15 Oct 2013 at 10:33 pm

Posted in Lifestyle

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