BioLOVEgy: The Scientist

The Tale of… The Mad Scientist

¾ oz Blueberry Scnapps

¾ oz Raspberry Schnapps

Grenadine Syrup

Bailey’s Irish Cream

Served as shot

Science seems to be the plausible explanation for most things. It is true that we are terrified of that which we do not understand and so it is no surprise that we are all so terrified of love. So if we came up with a scientific explanation for love, would we be able to control it better?

So I gave it a shot, in the hope that those of us who are terrified of it might be able to rationalise our idiotic behaviour and for those who aren’t… well, it’s really just going to piss them off.

So here goes…

…Love is just a chemical imbalance.

It is hormones, telling your brain you’re getting a ‘feeling’ about someone. So, those hormones are blinding you to the truth- hence why people say “love is blind”, this cliché seems to actually be very literal indeed.

As these hormones start to wear off, and you slowly see more and more about the person who once seemed flawless, you are ultimately resigned to a decision: End the relationship on good terms, before things go sour, or stay in the relationship long enough to eventually come to hate one another. If you do choose to continue to pursue such a relationship, potential for compromise gets thinner and thinner. Each person becomes more selfish and the love that at one time made you soft and fuzzy inside, has now hardened you and turned you cold.

So, if all this is true, there is still one thing I really don’t understand. Love is considered not only desirable but is actually a life goal for most people. It is a natural stage in life, a right of passage to fall in love, get married, have babies, buy a house together, drown in debt and resentment of the lack of sex you have since having kids, argue over where to spend Christmas and die knowing you shared your life with someone… all on account of love.However if these hormonal changes seem to define ‘love’ as a chemical or physiological matter, why is it not comparable to other states of mind that are considered as such? For example, chemical imbalances in the body can cause things such as depression, which is now defined as a medical condition. With this in mind, could love not be considered a medical condition?

As a lifelong student of language and linguistics, it is a natural tendency for me to question even the word we use itself. The word ‘love’ stretches back to a series of etymological beginnings including, the Old English ‘lufu’, Pre-Germanic ‘lubo’ and Gothic ‘liufs’. (

“When you say ‘I love you’ you are joining in a centuries- long game of Chinese whispers, passing on a series of phonemes to the next person, hoping you didn’t screw up too badly.”

No More Silly Love Songs’ Anouchka Grose

In addition to all this sound malarky, there is the introduction of words such as “lovelorn” dating back to Old English “loren” and Latin “Luere” in which those clever Latins realised we were going to need a word to call ourselves losers in love.

And what about how we use the word metaphorically? Trust me, I did an entire dissertation around the metaphors we use to talk about relationships and love, and let me tell you, the majority of them have a negative swing on them. For example, Rachel Hadley (2013) found in a study of metaphors (YES just quoted myself) 100% of the mentions of “heart” in a particular text were used in cases where the heart was having some form of physical action inflicted upon it, e.g. trampled, crushed or it was in the context of ‘heartbreak’.

Of course, we must not deny the instances where the heart is used to depict positive emotions, after all, the heart is possibly the most highly conventionalised symbol for love  (which brings me to a side point, WHO THE HELL decided that the heart would be shaped like that?!)

Heart firework

In these cases, for example, “speak from the heart”, “follow your heart”, it is suggested that your heart has some kind of control over you and in fact it is what you should trust. But if, as we have already established above, love is just a release of certain hormones, blinding us to reality and possibly creating a form of chemical imbalance which could technically be described as a medical condition, is the heart not just the catalyst for this whole process pumping the hormones further and further round the body?

“The heart is an organ, it pumps, circulates blood and gets clogged from time to time. It does not however speak, it doesn’t have tiny little lips on it.”

Cristina Yang- Grey’s Anatomy

And while we’re here, let’s just mention “you make my heart skip a beat”- translated: “I can’t breathe”. Hello? Can’t breathe… drowning, strangulation, claustrophobia. Is no one noticing a pattern here?

Perhaps in recent times, the closest we’ve come to defining ‘love’ in a near-accurate way, is with Beyonce’s Drunk In Love release. This I can get on board with- behaviour that is affected by your physical state, not being fully in control of what you do or say, and it leaves you with one hell of a hangover. Thank you Beyonce.

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