snorting love & loving poly

the brain on love

“a relatively small area of the human brain is active in love, compared with that involved in, say, ordinary friendship. […] The second surprise was that the brain areas active in love are different from the areas activated in other emotional states, such as fear and anger. […] So the brains of people deeply in love do not look like those of people experiencing strong emotions, but instead like those of people snorting coke.”

lust, love, and commitment

“Scanning the brains of people in love is also helping to refine science’s grasp of love’s various forms. Helen Fisher, a researcher at Rutgers University, and the author of a new book on love*, suggests it comes in three flavours: lust, romantic love and long-term attachment. There is some overlap but, in essence, these are separate phenomena, with their own emotional and motivational systems, and accompanying chemicals. These systems have evolved to enable, respectively, mating, pair-bonding and parenting. […]

Because they are independent, these three systems can work simultaneously—with dangerous results. As Dr Fisher explains, “you can feel deep attachment for a long-term spouse, while you feel romantic love for someone else, while you feel the sex drive in situations unrelated to either partner.” This independence means it is possible to love more than one person at a time, a situation that leads to jealousy, adultery and divorce—though also to the possibilities of promiscuity and polygamy, with the likelihood of extra children, and thus a bigger stake in the genetic future, that those behaviours bring.”

two excerpts from the brilliant Economist article “The science of love: I get a kick out of you

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