Falling in Love
Reflecting upon the short twenty something years of my life that I have lived so far, I often wonder if I had ever fallen in love. I know that the phrase I hear the most often when I ask someone how one can tell if he or she is in love is that “you just see the person and you know.”
When I was in a relationship with whom I believe is my first love, I used to look at him and think, “How did I get so lucky to be with you?” almost every time I saw him for the three years we were together. I never said it out loud, but he was my everything through it all and stood by me when I couldn’t even stand up with my own power. There were times when I wanted to hug him, kiss him, and hold his hands, but more than anything, I wanted to do the things that made him happy. I think that is how I realized I was in love: the moment when I realized I valued his feelings more than my own.
I want to give an example of a situation in which I was almost certain I was in love. When he was in pain due to his family’s downfall, I felt his pain as if it was my own. Watching his shoulders droop and hearing his voice shake as he spoke, I felt my heart physically tightening at the pain that he was feeling. I had never felt so helpless in my life and wanted to do everything that was beyond my power to simply make him smile again.
After time helped me fall out of love with a person who once was my one and only, I finally felt comfortable enough to reflect upon the way I felt about him. Thus, I decided to begin by analyzing some of the scientific analysis out there that discussed the feeling of falling in love.
The Science of Falling in Love
“We become addicted, because of the reward that comes in return.” This is how science defines or rather simplifies the human act of falling in love.
Biologically, it has been stated that men tend to fall in love faster than women, because according to evolution, women have more to lose and must be more guarded. However, if this is true, we are associating love with mere reproduction as if we fall in love for the sole purpose of reproduction. Additionally, it has also been stated that men are the common victims of the “love at first sight” phenomena, because they tend to fall in love visually; on the other hand, women are perceived to consider other factors, such as personality or the partner’s behavior.
According to science, we align our interests with our beloved. One study by Fisher (2013) even proved that people are attracted to their "brain-chemical" opposites. This meant that those who were emotionally contained and competitive were drawn to those who were expressive and laid-back. Then, depending on the relationship, one person begins to adopt the characteristics of another almost subconsciously.
Due to the elevated levels of central dopamine, a person tends to daydream about the positive qualities of that individual; they tend to exaggerate the little memories and moments that showcased those positive characteristics in their head rather than thinking about any negative traits associated with that person. This means when a person sees a picture of their loved one, certain parts of their brain will be “triggered” similar to the way that a drug addict feels when he or she consumes a drug. Whether this is love or addictive blindness, I don’t believe that it matters. That is the thing about love: you do not need to care about what it is you’re feeling besides the fact that you simply love them. Depending on the person, love can be blindness or love can be addiction, but what truly matters at the end of the day is that being in love does not require a justification.
As someone who adores principles, morals, and narratives, I politely disagree that science is the way in which one should analyze the topic of love. I do not believe that it is fair to my first love to simplify the memories and intensity of our relationship to dopamine levels and evolutionary tendencies. At times, I sit and try to think about the memories that I shared with him; in this process, I try to bring back the emotions I felt at that moment, but it’s impossible. I know that the warmth of the way in which he whispered to me, “Good night and sweet dreams; thank you for being mine,” made my heart flutter, but no matter how many times I try to recreate the moment in my head, I cannot bring back the same emotions I felt on that day. But I have decided that this really is the beauty and pain of love. It is so momentary and so unique in ways that cannot be recreated.
I believe that love is an end in itself, because it stands for something that cannot be traded in for anything else in this world. And ultimately, most of all, I believe that I loved for the sake of loving.