Ever wondered why people make foolish decisions when in love, or why they call it, ‘love and the other drugs’ or say ‘love is blind’? Probably you don’t; but there’s no need to worry, even the great scientists, the psychiatrists and the self-proclaimed doctor love(s) are yet to wrap their fingers around the subject of love and human attraction. To date it is such a big mystery.
We all have that one friend, when he/she finds a new flame, things just fall apart; they forget about all their friends and family, and even go to an extent of sacrificing their education, career and marriages just to be with this one person. If you do not have such a friend, probably you are the friend am talking about.
It is amazing how rational and well educated people are willing to risk to lose; their family, marriage, career or even their engagement, all which has taken a lifetime to achieve for a new found illicit love affair.
People have died because of love, kingdoms have gone to war because or love; remember about ‘The Hellen of Troy’ or the ‘The Trojan Horse’ story?
Because none us can actually explain why we make foolish decisions when in love, we tend to come up with weird explanations that fall in the realms of crazy, myth and science fiction. Some call it witchcraft; others turn to myths and call it destiny, the hopeless romantic call it ‘being swept off your feet,’ the realist call it chemistry, while others head the religious direction to call it ‘the match made in heaven’. Whichever route you decide to take, everyone gets helplessly love struck at least once in a life time.
Some call it witchcraft; others turn to myths and call it destiny, the hopeless romantic call it ‘being swept off your feet,’ the realist call it chemistry, while others head the religious direction to call it ‘the match made in heaven’.
Before we jump right into why you fall stupid in love, let me first of all make the effort to demystify this subject of love by outlining to you the phases of love.
Stages of love
Love is made up three phases;
- and the attachment phase
The initial phase is Lust, which is an animal like driven instinct full of raw craving and passion – most of the ‘one night stands’ happen on this phase.
Lust, which is an animal like driven instinct full of raw craving and passion…
The attraction phase is where individual starts obsessing over their partners, thinking about them for hours, imagining doing awesome things together (Ravenscraft, 2014). At this stage, the brain and the body are overwhelmed by high levels of dopamine and testosterone and/or oestrogen hormones.
You are practically high on you own hormones; when your fingers accidentally touch or when you unexpectedly run into him/her, you feel like 1000 kilo watts of electricity have just jolted through your body. Thus, one can be said to have a crush on someone at this stage.
…when your fingers accidentally touch or when you unexpectedly run into him/her, you feel like 1000 kilo watts of electricity have just jolted through your body…
During the attachment phase the low the low kicks in. The aggressive yearning and attraction fades after the body develops a tolerance for the exited hormones. At this stage, Endorphins, hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin take over creating an overall sense of security and well-being, creating an atmosphere conducive for a long-term relationship (Zafirides, 2012).
At this stage, you also tend to see the other person for who he/she really is, without the high of hormones clouding your judgement. In other words, this is the make or break up stage. It is worth noting that both genders go through the three phases; however women tend to be carried away more than their male counterparts because they are more emotional and hormonal creatures.
Why We Make Foolish Decisions When In love
Love the Drug
According to Fletcher (2012), being in love is like being high on drugs. This state causes the body to release myriad of chemicals and hormones that trigger various chemical and physical reactions.
…being in love is like being high on drugs…
People often get into this crazy state because being in love can be compared to the effects of taking stimulant drugs such as cocaine (Keltner, Oatley, and Jenkins, 2014). When in love, the body releases chemicals and hormones, such as dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline, norepinephrine, testosterone and estrogen creating feelings of euphoria, anxiety, restlessness, excitement and preoccupation (Zafirides, 2012).
The effect of love to the body can be compared to the effects of stimulant drugs, though the love high is a prolonged mild high, while the drugs high kicks in with a bang and the low kicks in a few hours later.
According to Koltonow, (2013) “This internal elixir of love is responsible for making our cheeks flush, our palms sweat and our hearts race.”
These hormones and chemicals send signals to the body and the brain which alters our mental state with the result being, altered perception of reality and consequently altered behaviour.
This is the reason why the state of being in love is exciting and fun but also makes the most rational, and intelligent people do the most stupid of things.
Studies have established adrenaline is the ultimate love drug. Adrenaline is the feel good chemical released along with endorphins and dopamine. At such state, one is likely to have positive prejudged inclinations towards the person they are in love with despite this not being so in reality, consequently resulting in poor decision making (Zafirides 2012).
Dopamine is the key ingredient of adrenaline which triggers the experiences of pain and pleasure and is linked to addiction, desire, euphoria, and libido. Love is not only addictive but also clouds our judgements just as addictive drugs do.
Love is blind
The statement ‘love is blind‘ literally demonstrates how decisions made when in love are likely to be biased. People tend to make poor decisions when in love because, in the early stages of the relationship, people idealize their partners and see only what they want to.
It is amazing how rational and well educated people are willing to risk to lose; their family, marriage and even career that has taken a lifetime to attain for a new found illicit love affair (Fletcher, 2012).
Love just like any other emotion, affects the human decision process. The unique aspect of love is that is made up of different kind of emotions that fluctuate, change and evolve with time (Mueller and Curhan, 2011).
There are numerous psychological and biological changes that take place in the brain when one is in the state of love. However, it is important to note that manifestation of love is not just a cocktail of hormones, but also involves an interaction between brain chemicals and hormones that affect our emotional responses.
It is amazing how rational and well educated people are willing to risk to lose; their family, marriage and even career that has taken a lifetime to attain for a new found illicit love affair
The point is that, it is simple and complicated at the same time; if this was not the case, neuroscientists could have easily manufactured a love drug.
Illusion on of sanity
When one is in love, there are instances where some parts of the brain is activated and another part deactivated, which means that being in love does not hinder one from making other major decisions in other aspects of their lives, such as buying a house, or even closing a business deal (Ravenscraft, 2014).
You have probably noticed that it is hard to convince your friend to get out of the illicit affair, or leave the dead end relationship, because he/she believes he is making the right decisions. Furthermore, he/she is making sober decisions in other aspects of her life, like in terms of careers, business education etc.
This aspect makes it hard to convince or rather prove that the emotion of love affects the one’s ability to make sound decisions. This illusion on of sanity makes it extremely hard for a second or a third party to convince the subject that they are not making the right choices when they are in love.
The first step to curing any addiction is acceptance. Thus, the first step to making proper decisions when in love is to acknowledge that our emotions can skew our ability to make sound decisions. This happens because love and other emotions narrow the human perception of available solutions and options (Kahn, 2013).
Love can also create an illusion of perfection from our partners thus automatically suspending all doubts and criticism about our loved ones. As such, love has the ability to create both extreme negative and positive emotions that are all not good for sound decision making (Kring, 2010).
Thus, there is need to cultivate emotional intelligence so as to make sound decisions, even though, one is in such an emotional state. Emotional Intelligence is a discipline in itself, and just like normal intelligence, it can be cultivated over time (Mueller, and Curhan, 2011).
Love can also create an illusion of perfection from our partners thus automatically suspending all doubts and criticism about our loved ones.
A few ways to cultivate emotional intelligence is by paying attention to the emotional changes when you are in an emotional state and note them down. The next step involves the calming down process by, identifying stressors, postponing rash action, developing breathing habits, and practicing muscle relaxation techniques that can help you cool down.
The other aspects one needs to understand is that emotions do not relinquish our ability to control, but they have ability limit our sense of control (Kahn, 2013). The reality is that human beings have the ability change our behaviours and control our decision making process. Furthermore, emotions provide valuable information and decisional alternatives that “pure reason” or rather logical decision making process cannot achieve.
In conclusion, I would like to admit that it would be naïve to describe love as just a cocktail of hormones that involves an interaction between these hormones and brain chemicals that affect our emotional responses and behaviour. Yes, there is more to love that even the psychiatrists and the neuroscientists are yet to discover.
However, it is also important to admit that love can make the most intelligent people do the stupid of things. Thus, the above analogy is just a depiction the effects the feeling of love has on us, or rather the reason why we make foolish decisions when in love, and presented a way on how to fix this.
Fletcher V (2012). Crazy in love: What happens in your brain when you really do have chemistry. Associated Newspapers Ltd
Kahn J (2013). 7 Scientific Reasons You Should Listen To Your Heart, Not Your Brain MindBodyGreen, LLC.
Koltonow A (2013). What Happens to Your Brain When You Fall in Love? Mebtalfloss.
Kring AM. (2010). The future of emotion research in the study of psychopathology. Emotion Review 2: 225-28
Ravenscraft E. (2014): Why You Make Bad Decisions When You’re Attracted to Someone. Retrieved from http://lifehacker.com/why-you-make-bad-decisions-when- youre-attracted-to-som-1501035149
Zafirides P (2012). How our emotions can affect our decisionmaking ability. Retrieved from http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2012/01/emotions-affect-decision-making-ability.html
Mueller JS, Curhan JR. (2011). Emotional intelligence and counterpart mood induction in a negotiation. International Journal of Conflict Management; 17: 110-28