According to the Malaysian Quality of Life (MQLI) 2011 report, over 33,000 couples reportedly split up in 2010, with a steady increase of divorces recorded in Malaysia.
We all hear horror stories about loveless marriages and how the oath of ‘Till death do us part’ is never guaranteed, but is there ever a way to keep the promise? Surprisingly, it seems like there might actually be hope, as scientists in the University of Oxford has published a paper that at some point in life, a new breed of ‘love drug’ might actually become available. What in contains, and what form it comes in, has yet to be proven.
Author of the research, Dr Anders Sandberg took interest in the relationship of his colleague, Professor Julian Savulescu, who divorced his wife in 2005.
Savulesco says, “I saw how difficult relationships are, how the change and how powerless you are.”
“The experience made me think, how can intelligent people, very confident people, end up in these situations? I said to Anders, ‘Let’s see what science and psychology have to tell us about lot and relationship break-up.'”
Psychologists have shown that it takes up to 90 seconds and 4 minutes to decide if you’re into someone, and according to Helen Fisher of Rutgers University in the States, there are three stages of love, where each stage is driven by various hormones and chemicals. The first stage is Lust, which is driven by sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen in men and women.
The second stage, Attraction, possibly involves three main neurotransmitters like adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin. Finally, the third stage, Attachment, is believed to be caused by two major hormones like oxytocin and vasopressin. Oxytocin, also known as the ‘cuddle hormone’ is a powerful hormone released by mean and women during orgasm, which possibly deepens the feelings of attachment and allows couples to feel closer to one another. It is also present among mothers and child, and is also responsible for a mother to release breast milk automatically at the sight or sound of her baby. (Source)
So, what are some of the common love cures in folklore? The Swedes believed that carrying an apple in your armpit a day, and then give it to your intended lover. We’ve been told of various aphrodisiacs like oysters and chocolate that have been known to boost our libidos, Sandberg predicts that in the future, once the understanding of the neuroscience of love grows, there will be more opportunities to modify lust, attraction and attachment.
Monogamy seems to be a challenge among young lovers these days. Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford, suggest that monogamy requires the wisdom to swap short-term gain for the hope of a more distant reward, which is the ability to inhibit “your natural tendency to want to reach out and grab the high cake in front of you”.
He also believe that monogamy’s purpose was intended to the successful rearing of young, which in a way makes a lot of sense. “It really takes two adults to keep the nest fully provisioned, so you have to bel able to anticipate what the different requirements are for the two of you in this joint enterprise and, because everybody’s interest is slightly different”.
Is there ever a way to be chemically commit yourself to one person for the rest of your life, or increase the level of desire and affection you should have for one person? Perhaps a little a further into the future, there might, but as for now, people should really learn to differentiate between actual compassion and infatuation. Cynics might believe that love may be non-existent, but Sandberg and Savulescu suggests that love is one of the fundamental aspects of human existence. Neuroscience has the capability to enhance the quality of love through biological manipulation, but in the words of Emanuel Kant, “love is a mtter of feeling, not of willing”.