The Quality of Love

“I want a new drug, one that does what it should

One that won't make me feel too bad

One that won't make me feel too good

I want a new drug, one with no doubt

One that won't make me talk to much

Or make my face break out

One that won't make me nervous

Wonderin' what to do

One that makes me feel like I feel when I'm with you

I'm alone with you”

… Huey Lewis


What exactly do you mean when you say “I love you?” or when you think, “We really have chemistry!” You’re not kidding. Love at first sight is translated by the Thalamus as a "desired chemical reaction”, a message which is then sent to the Amygdala, the core memory center. This creates a flood of endorphins and other neurochemicals, such as Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and Dopamine, in the emotional center of the brain (the Limbic System). It happens in humans and it happens in tapeworms, so how did we manage to glorify this chemistry and enshrine it in some sacred space? And when someone does manage to create that chemistry in us, can we be sure that they will continue to keep producing that chemical reaction? Seems a bit unreliable to me.

The thing is, as you continue to be “in love” that neurochemistry begins to migrate and change. The rewards are different and the fear of loss can actually increase. All of this chemistry neatly bypasses the thinking brain, so, in a real sense, you’re out of your mind. You’ll take wild chances and do unreasonable things to continue to get your chemical fix. If we had a button connected to these reward centers we’d never stop pressing it and we’d probably be dead in a week.

“Will you be my Valentine?” really means “Get over here and continue to stimulate my reward centers! And while you’re at it, do it right! Do the eight things necessary to give me my fix!” Flowers, candy, cards, adoration, listening endlessly...these are the elements we synthesize to create the magical alchemy called love. As those stimuli begin to lose their jazz we have to up the ante to get the same reaction. Cars, rings, houses, ceremonies…

So, is all hope lost? Is it just one big illusion? Yes, and no. If you hang in there in your relationship, the rush of early hormones fades and are replaced by a new wave of oxytocin, vasopressin and endorphins. In plain English, your rewards change and you now get off on bonding and partnership. Life gets sweeter and more peaceful and the rewards are richer and better. Change with the changes of your chemistry!

Stop beating on your partner to get you off with the old love chemicals and start building partnership. Do this and you’ll get those new rewards...In the spirit of Valentine’s Day...You don’t need a new partner, you need a new drug; you need a new intention.

Thomas Jones