How does one even begin to talk about love? In this social media obsessed world, it can sometimes feel like an age of cynicism, where people are always angry or self righteous. Where it’s acceptable to instill fear in other people. And we’re not talking about the Batman kind of fear, which would be cool, because it would be fear for justice, but the kind of fear that comes from…well, I’ll just stop right there. It’s not that kind of post. Despite all that nonsense, there’s a couple of things I’ve learned about our internet frontier. That being single is a perfectly acceptable relationship status, and that people still want to fall in love. That sprinkled amongst all the hate, the hypocrisy, and the put downs, are people who are all about the love, whether its in single player more or co-op. So today, I’d like to gulp down those chalky, candy hearts, and dig into the science of affection, and maybe even celebrate that fake holiday, Valentine’s Day.
As Christian said to Satine in the Elephant Love Medley, “Love is like oxygen. Love is a many splendored thing. Love, lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love.” What a funny word, love. Four letters that influence the lives of so many people around us. It is a concept that has been the inspiration for great works of art and great feats of heroism. Whether or not you believe that Valentine’s Day is a corporate construct developed to take money out of the pockets of gullible, infatuated people, there is no denying that the romantic love it celebrates has changed lives, made people go mad, and has been the subject of every bit of media we consume.
I think the thing that fascinates me most about romantic love is that it’s different for every person. That even the most cold hearted individual can fall in love. That idea that opposites and similars can attract. That often times, there is no rhyme or reason to why two people become a couple.
If you put a dozen psychologists, sociologists, and biologists in a room to figure out why two people get together, you’re going to get a menagerie of answers. It could be the way a person smelled, or because a crush looked like their mom or dad, or because they were wearing the color red, or that they were holding a cute puppy. Which in all honesty, who wouldn’t want to date someone with a cute puppy. And though science can’t predict how people get together, it does know what’s going on in the brain when you’ve got, that lovin’ feelin’. For instance: neurotransmitters like dopamine start to eek out and you get to feeling high and happy, norepinephrine pushes your heartbeat to 1000, giving you that rush and excitement, and serotonin will give you a hint of insanity. Then there’s the oxytocin that helps bond you to your paramour, strengthening that connection, and vasopressin helping to build that foundation for a long relationship. In other words, love can feel incredible.
It’s why we cheered on and originally shipped Olicity. It’s why we understood how a Kryptonian could reverse the rotation of the earth to save a human he cared for, and it’s why we reveled in the way Wash and Zoe looked at each other and flirted incessantly in the midst of a Reaver infestation. We wanted our favorite characters to feel that euphoria that came with love and some of us wanted to be those characters who seemed so impossibly enamored with each other.
These are just a few facets of the concept of love and relationships, and why Valentine’s Day is even a thing. Insert iceberg metaphor here. It’s also why it took me four days, and hours of rewriting to get to this point. Love means a lot of things to a lot of people, and as a person who is passionate about the subject (I did do a podcast for five years on the topic), it’s tough to tone that down to a few hundred words. So thanks for sticking it out with me on Deadpool weekend, the real reason to celebrate this February, and be comforted, or really creeped out, knowing that out there, there is someone who really, really like, likes you.