Blog Post By V Morgan.
I’ve never really thought of myself as having an addictive personality. I can usually handle things in moderation. I love tattoos, but I don’t need to get one every week until my whole body is covered with regret. Drinking is great, but I manage to do it without going on three-day blackout bender and waking up in a garbage bin. So, among my many flaws, I leave addiction out.
Turns out I may be very wrong about that.
A reality smack came via Penny. So I don’t want to give it too much weight, obviously. But the truth is, I might be an infatuation addict. The first sign being a long series of short-lived relationships. A craving for the initial high of that infatuated phase, and moving on when it dies out. Having an older sister who really knows you can be as much a pain in the ass as it can be— enlightening. Especially when she’s a nerd and knows things.
Penny walks by this morning as I’m texting David, (it was work-related, okay? Everyone relax.) And she smirks, “Oh, Daviiiiiiiid. How’s your French crush?” To which I say nothing, except that she’s a dork. Then she drops this, with an unnecessarily emphatic sigh, “Poor Shane. Junkie’s gotta get her dopamine hit from someone new now.”
What is she talking about? Nothing makes me nerd out more than my sister knowing something I don’t. So I turned to Google and searched:
Dopamine and crushes
Funny Tattoos (I got distracted)
Humanity has always been preoccupied with the mystery of love, but leaving it to the poets and artists to explore. We didn’t have Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) Technology to put love under the scrutiny of science. More accurately, to put the brain under scrutiny. Because according to a myriad of studies in neurology, you don’t necessarily love someone with your whole heart. You love them with your whole… brain.
Nerd out with me for a moment, it’s good stuff. In a State University of New York study, a group of college students who had just “fallen madly in love” had their brains scanned when they looked at pictures of their lovers. The brain areas that lit up were those that trigger dopamine, (the powerful “feel-good” chemical), a neurotransmitter in the brain’s reward system associated with pleasure— and addiction. Turns out that dopamine is also released in response to cocaine and nicotine. So the behavior of infatuated lovers is very similar to addicts: intense, passionate, and often desperate. There’s the emotional/chemical high when you get your fix, see your lover, and the seemingly unbearable low when you’re without them. And the (often cringe-worthy?) lengths you’ll go to get more. The high is what infatuation junkies chase. I’ve been there, a couple too many times…
Oxytocin is another love chemical of note, (the bonding hormone) released from physical affection and orgasm that strengthens the feelings of trust and emotional attachment. Combined with dopamine, you get an intoxicating surge of euphoria that override the region of the brain governing logic.
Which explains a lot, actually.
The chemical cocktail can dry up, and the relationship either moves into a loving one based in reality, or there’s disappointment, and it ends. Those who jump from relationship to relationship are craving the intoxicating effects of the initial stage.
I can’t dispute the science of love. But I’d like to think it’s more than just us running after hits of happy chemicals. And more than what can be measured by a brain scan. I guess I’ll have to stick around long enough to see what’s on the other side of infatuation. I might get hurt. But I have a high pain threshold… Worth the risk?