Is the Chick Flick making us Love Sick?

TYPICAL ROMANTIC SCENARIOS:

  • The guy is womaniser, but the special woman who plays hard to get makes him see the error of his ways.
  • Girl is unnoticed and the guy she pines for always fancies someone who is prettier than her, but makes less sense on paper. He comes around in the end because she makes him feel wanted, unlike the prettier girl who treats him badly.
  • Guy is an underachiever and is punching above his weight with the girl he likes. Eventually through a lot of being awesome and kooky, he wins the girl of his dreams.
  • Guy and girl always miss the opportunity to tell each other how they feel and leave it right until everything’s nearly at risk of being lost before they engage in their long-awaited true love’s declaration.
  • Girl’s best friend likes the guy first, but they fall in love instead and it messes everything up between the friends etc.

Have you noticed there’s a running theme here? Drama. Love is whatever is dramatic. Not what is most confident and secure, just whatever’s heightened. And have you ever noticed that it’s pretty hard to reach that state of ecstasy in a relationship more than once? Thus, you start to feel “bored” or “stuck in a rut” – maybe your heart’s just not in it anymore?

Let me give you a brief insight on what “love” feels like. You may think it’s when you see that person and your chest goes all fluttery, that when you embrace them you want to absorb everything about them, your senses are in haywire and you just know that when you look into their eyes that they’re “the one.”

WRONG.

Your body is doing something phenomenal. It is in fact reacting with a hormonal rush, most likely due to sexual attraction, and that flood of hormones is designed to “feel” good. Serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins are the feel-good chemicals responsible and they all each offer something unique to our mental happiness scale.

Serotonin flows when you feel significant or important.” So when someone tells you the things you want to hear, such as, “I care about you”, “You’re special to me”, “I love you too” etc. these little blighters kick into action and make you feel wanted. Without these words to aid the release of serotonin, we then believe that we are lonely and thus become sad.

“Dopamine motivates us to take action toward goals, desires, and needs, and gives a surge of reinforcing pleasure when achieving them.” If you see love as a goal, then perhaps finally telling someone the love you’ve had for them for so long is best told at the last possible minute, that way you will get the greatest flood of dopamine? It is a goal you’ve wanted to achieve for a while, so why not obtain it when it’s at its most dramatic and get the biggest rush ever? Perhaps this is also why “make-up-sex” feels so great after an argument? Not because anything is solved, but it proves a fantastically pleasurable, but unproductive, distraction from reality.

“Oxytocin creates intimacy, trust, and builds healthy relationships.” Once you believe that said person involved loves you and that everything’s finally fallen into place, this hormone will work to combine those feelings and enforce a purely emotional security. By no means is it permanent or necessarily true, but it feels true, so you believe it.

“Endorphins are released in response to pain and stress and help to alleviate anxiety and depression.” These little tykes are so great at boosting your mood. When you feel down, you may attempt to sublimate that negative emotion by going for a run or by dancing. After a while, your body will release endorphins to aid you carrying on, motivate you to do it again and see it as a release from any inner negativity. I mean, that’s great and all, but this can be abused. So, if you have had a massive lover’s tiff, but you know that the act of romance and sex makes you feel better again, you may well engage in it. You’ll feel like you can tackle the world again, only to realise later that nothing on a deeper level has changed.

Thus, “love” is not felt on a rational or logical scale, but an emotional one (which is probably why we make some seriously naff choices in partner sometimes) and why we believe that this notion of true love is indicated through these dramatic means. How can anything be true (an objective and rational matter based on logic and evidence) if its platform is that of “love” which is merely an emotional and mutable concept? If I asked people “Why do you love him/her?” could you give me a logical answer? Probably not one that I’d see as cognent, no. But if I then asked you “Why does blue and yellow when blended make the colour green?” you could give me a detailed and logical answer. If you answered with “Because when blue and yellow are together they feel something which causes a colour change.” I’d think you were either being derisive, or genuinely moronic. My point is, if you cannot tell me why something is true without using a feeling as an indicator, then it can only be considered false, subjective and/or temporary. Something based on mood is not a deductive argument of certainty.

So why do the movies do that? Are we convinced that this is evidence of relationships that will have longevity? That only the theatrical connections are ones of worth? Because in all honesty…it’s bol**cks. Yes, these intense emotions are very useful in creating an initial connection with someone, and deciphering sexual attraction. BUT, they are by no means useful as predicates for a relationship that will go-the-distance, per se. Relationships are a societal construct that we have set the confines for. Our bodies only set those hormonal blasts as indicators for baby making. There is a major difference between sex (an action where only feeling good with that person at the time is necessary in order to achieve this goal) and relationships (a permanent and secure connection based on evidence exhibited through actions of trust, honesty and loyalty). One only has to last as long as the action is required, and once its purpose has been served, those feelings will dissipate (so, once climax has been reached and died down, you will also stop “feeling” as strongly) and the other one has to be consistent and permanent (if an action between the two connected proved evidence of dishonesty, distrust or disloyalty, then the security of the whole relationship would break down). Thus, sex only needs a temporary happiness as a means to an end, whereas a relationship requires an established platform of knowledge, as there is no end, only a continuation of stability.

You might be thinking by now that, that all sounds boring and you don’t believe me, yadayada. But guess what? You don’t have to. If you can prove to me that the success of your relationship is purely based on the fact that you love each other, and that notion conquers any serious obstacle you encounter and you never get bored or want to end it all, then I’ll eat my tea bags. But for now, I’m not budging. Love is a concept created by society as an attempt to join sex and relationships into one, and although I’d like to believe they were both possible to intertwine, you have to realise that they require different factors as evidence for success. If you want to maintain your “happiness”, then have a lot of sex. But if there’s something deeper bothering you in regards to your trust, honesty or loyalty in the person you are having sex with, then know that won’t go away by merely exchanging lovey-dovey sentences or intense declarations. That has to be worked on by ensuring stability, and that can only be achieved through reasonable proof of which can be believed as true.

8 comments

  1. Really great points here but first: I’m absolutely adopting “I’ll eat my tea bags” as my new phrase!
    Anyway, thank you so much for writing about this, it’s incredibly important that writers start to wake up and combat the unrealistic depictions of romantic relationships that people are bombarded with!
    I have several friends who broke up relationships because ‘the old spark wasn’t there anymore’ and I’d think ”really? Because you’ve been together for five years now, were you expecting to feel the same way you did when you met?” Of course relationships are complicated but I wish there were more married couples depicted who work at their relationship with the same effort as they do their friends in the same story!

    • Haha, I’d nearly forgotten about that catchphrase! (Which is probably a good thing, because it means no one has proven me wrong on this, and I’d hate to waste a tea bag)
      You are so bang on the money, Cameron. People appear to have an unrealistic concept of relationships and that is because we’re following a dramatised, box-office version of “love”. It’s so sad when couples break up over the reason you stated – I hear it a lot too. The problem is, our expectations for love and friendship are so, so different! And sadly, we are primitively following emotional highs and lows to dominate over logic. What people need to do is realise that ‘love’, ‘happiness’, ‘friendships’ etc. all come from a place of learning; whether it be about one another, a mutual interest, or learning from each other, exploration is what builds our connections! So instead of giving up when the going gets tough, we need to actually get our thinking caps on. Think about things to do together, something fun and cool, stuff that helps you ‘remember’ why you ‘fell’ for said other person.
      Oh, and I think as much as humans are social animals, we sometimes require independence to thrive. So, maybe the other reason we get ‘bored’ is because we’re spending too much time together? Just a thought…

      Thank you again for reading and taking the time to comment, by the way! Totally love a good discussion.

      • I make a real effort when I put stories together to include as many long-time married couples as I can – I feel like they are really under-represented and if the stories do have married couples, they’re always there as background characters we never get to know, or they’re there to get broken up, which is so sad! There need to be old married couples who compliment each other and are friends as well as lovers and they’ve grown used to the weird things the other one does and know each other just so well that they can plan without consulting each other so much, because they know what the other one’s going to do anyway!

      • Old married adventurers who still go off to find buried treasure and one totally won’t wear their reading glasses, so they keep reading the map wrong, but the other one absolutely knows this already, so keeps ‘mishearing’ their directions so they still end up in the right place anyway!

  2. That is totally brilliant and true! I can see them both now…blithely stating it’s definitely “that way!”, sun basking their faces; crinkled with confusion. Will they find the treasure? Is there really any treasure? Or maybe they’ve just taken their trip to Eastbourne sea front a little too seriously!

  3. […] Okay, so we make choices because of our brain activity. Our chemical reactions can lead to us doing things that we may, or may not, regret. In a previous post, I discussed how our ‘happy hormones’ – dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins – can play a BIG role in making us think differently about a certain person or action. It is their fluctuation (or absence) that can cause us to feel differently about things. I.E. happy or sad. (If you want to know more about how these little blighters work their magic before you carry on with this piece, then check out my post on ‘Is the Chick-Flick making us Love-Sick?‘) […]

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