Before we discuss this question of spatial and temporal appearance of love in a human being’s life, we must understand that like hunger, sleep, love is also a biological response.
Scientists have categorized love into three componens, namely
- Lust or feeling of sexual desire;
- Attraction where is partner is narrowed down for romantic pursuit;
- Attachment which involves sharing a home, becoming parents, and a sense of safety and security.
Each component of love involves different neural pathway in the brain and different chemicals that act as neurotransmitters. Several such chemicals like norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin etc. have been identified. We also know that chemicals like cocaine that increase brain level of different neurotransmitters can evoke intense sexual desire and enhance performance.
Given the importance of brain chemicals in the manifestation of love, it is possible
- individuals may exhibit different expression patterns of neurotransmitters;
- outlook of a society towards love, social upbringing and age may all contribute towards modulation of love chemicals;
How love love pops-up may depend upon how society and sorroundings look at love, . For example,
- Western societies are more permissive about one night stand. Men and women know they are on their own about finding a partner. So they are aggressive about finding a partner be it in night clubs, or social gathering or through digital space. Many marry late, and marry only if they find a partner with whom they have a certain degree of compatibility. But divorce rate is also very high in these societies. Though love pops up more often here, lov does not attain permanence. Does that mean, there is a differential pattern in expression of different chemicals?
- In India, we have traditionally professed love to develop as two people start living together after marriage. Commitment and stability has a greater emphasis here in this society. Does this mean Indians express chemicals differently?
- Of late, things have changed in India. A preponderance of young population, financial freedom, getting away from social control by finding a job away from home, and digital revolution have altered concept of one night stand in India. In the backdrop of huge population of India, what is the percentage of these liberated souls, I do not know. It may be interesting that libido that had remained repressed find a release in a less inhibitive situation and does accompanying chemicals also change?
- For a vast majority of Indians, marriage is still a social phenomenon where family of bride and grooms play an important role. In this situation, love takes time to develop, if it ever develops, but commitment and stability is assured. Even this situation is changing with both husband and wife working in big cities, each may have their own extra marital affair and each may be ready to break the bond if need arises. Again exact percentage of such people, I do not have the number.
Lastly, love is interpreted by different people in a different way. Let us look at Tajmahal as a symbol of love. Accoridng to hisotry, emperor had built it in memory of his wife. This wife, whose first husband, emperor got killed in a war. Wife who who died giving birth to her 13th child. Emperor himself had more than hundred concubines. Apart from his personal life, emperor had access to huge wealth so that he could engage best architects and engineers to create a mausoleum. This monument is considered a world heritage.
Now consider an alternate interpretation of love. This story was written by a Bengali writer whose pen name was Bonoful (Balai Chand Mukhopadhyay). Bonoful wrote this story in first person:,
“I was a doctor in Agra. One day I saw a man carrying his wife who was invalid and suffering from an incurable disease. People say he had been carrying his wife for the past decade or two. He did not leave her for a different woman. Now you dear readers, look at Tajmahal and look at this man, and decide for yourself which love is stronger.” Story ends here. It is a story afterall. But shows another light at the commitment aspect of love, a love that had developed over a period of time.
In the end, I think love is nothing but a play of chemicals in the brain. Peopel react to stimuli, visual or auditory, based on what is his or her constitution. At the same time, humans have ability to reason and control the surge of chemicals and channelise the energy.
This post is written in response to Indispire prompt. More posts on the same topic may be found here.