Contrary to the popular belief, love doesn't have much to do with emotions and romance. In fact, our need to be pared with other human beings is as basic as our desire to survive.
Renowned anthropologist and love expert Dr. Helen Fisher believes there are separate facets of love, and while each of them is governed by a separate chemical system, they all have a single separate evolutionary function: passing on DNA to an offspring.
Yes, it all boils down to keeping one’s family tree thriving.
“As it turns out, the basic wiring for romantic love is way below the cortex, way below the thinking part of the brain, even below the emotional centers of the brain,” Fisher told BuzzFeed, rferring to her research where she studied the brains of thousands of people at different stages of relationships using MRI scans.
Although romantic love is extremely complicated on its own, there are other aspects that make the entire thing even more self-consuming and messy.
Romance, or the feeling of being wanted by another person, is probably the most apparent need (and the biggest complication) when it comes to love.
“Humans are very helpless babies that take a very long time to mature,” the anthropologist stated, “and the kind of person who goes around sleeping with everybody and not forming any kind of bond with them – a million years ago would probably not have had a lot of children because for millions of years people have needed a partner in order to raise their baby.”
The Drive For Sex
As primeval as it may sound, the quest for the right mate pushes everything else out of the equation.
“The drive for sex gets you out there looking for a range of partners,” explained Fisher, adding that the desire to find the perfect mate makes you explore all the options that are available so that you can chose the best possible person.
Finally, there is the sense of belonging.
“I think the feelings of deep attachment evolved so they will need to stick with it first to tolerate this person … long enough to raise one child through infancy,” she said, adding that this starts during one’s childhood. When kids begin to socialize with their peers and form a bond with their families and other relatives, they learn the value of relationships.
Now, as clear-cut and tangible as this theory may sound, one thing is for certain: Love can’t be described with a three-part narrative. In addition to that, there’s a definitive chance that one may not experience all these love stages in a certain order – because one’s desire to be with someone may overlap with their desire to be physically involved with someone else.
“All relationships are going to be vast complex mixes of all three or maybe just two or one or whatever,” Fisher told Buzzfeed, adding that with years of evolution, humans have become less relient on another person when it comes to raising a family. She asserted that the need for the attachment is strongest during the infancy years and after that, it just keep on reducing – which makes perfect sense. As we grow up, we become more self-reliant and learn about the gray areas of relationship and love.
While Fisher’s theory doesn’t put the complexities of love in black-and-white, it does provide an important point of view: There is more to love than romance. The entire ordeal of falling in love with someone and having them love you back is much more scientific than people actually realize.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: Reuters