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Dating - A Happy Illusion?

There goes another Valentine’s day – whether you were having a romantic dinner with a loved one, chatting with them late into the night on the phone, or exchanging gifts – I am glad you had a great day. As for those who were invariably single on this dreaded day – I have some interesting ideas (maybe a tad bit geeky, but who cares) that should make you smile at the very least.

The Root of all evil: Dopamine and Norepinephrine. Do you know which hormone is released when anything gives us any remote amount of pleasure and excitement? It is indeed the famous dopamine (neurotransmitter that is released in the reward system of our bodies, when we experience pleasure) and adrenaline/epinephrine. Adrenaline is a close cousin of norepinephrine. Both hormones increase blood pressure and increase fatty acid supply to the body which acts as a fuel when increased alertness is required. Guess what, according to researchers (among them Helen Fisher, anthropologist at Rutgers University), this is dopamine and norepinephrine are the same chemicals released when we are falling in love and give us a feeling of elation. When out on a date to a new place with that charming girl or boy, very often, there is an easy confusion of feelings – it is the Dopmine and Adrenaline’s overlapping effects with that of falling in love; it is often the new ‘experience’ that is exciting, not the said person. And yet, it is easy enough to be deluded to think otherwise. MRI scans of subjects’ brains during the initial phases of crazy-obsessed/hopelessly-romantic love have shown to activate areas high in dopamine and related to “euphoria, craving and addiction”.

Interestingly, dopamine is also the same chemical released through use of cocaine (this of course is still contended to irreparably damage dopamine receptors, inhibiting their ability to feel the same level of pleasure again). Therefore, when people have a bad break-up or fall-out, they exhibit similar withdrawal symptoms as drug addicts as their body gets reduced levels of dopamine-induced pleasure.

People in initial stages of love have also been found to have low levels of Serotonin – the chemical essential for good sleep, appetite and memory. Remember when your mom told you to drink down a glass of milk before you hit the bed? Milk is a major source of Serotonin. Low levels of Serotonin are also a problem for people affected by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). So not only are people mistakenly thinking they are in love, many times when they actually are falling in love, they are subjected through hopeless phases.

Now suppose Jack and Jill have been in a long-term relationship. You know which chemical induces feeling of bonding in lovers? Let me introduce you to the love-hormone, oxytocin. While this hormone is known to be affecting positive feelings such as trust, it can also have an opposite effect of “jealousy, envy, and suspicion”.

I am certainly glad I was spared by these emotions this Valentine’s Day, although I fear I am arguably falling in love with Ranveer Singh (@Gunday). There goes my peace!

P.S. Those of you who were in love today, don’t despair, because in the end love alone triumphs @ RomeoJuliet, RamLeela, Cyclops&Jane, Titanic, Ishaqzaade, Aashiqui. Oh wait. P.P.S. Unintended pun: Dating- a happy illusion vs. Dating a happy illusion. I hope you get the joke now.

Cynicism: my own

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