How many ways to love in 2010? Count ’em up.
Drunk love: Vinny telling Snooki that she takes his breath away, even though she’s orange. Fan love: people camping out overnight to get tickets to a Justin Bieber concert. Hopeful love: Larry King calling off his divorce from wife No. 7. Familial love: Heidi Montag threatening to get a restraining order against her mom.
No wonder people feel they have to turn to the Internet to ask, What is love?
Love definitely comes in cycles. In February, understandably, people searched for “how to tell someone you love them,” what to write in a love letter,” “how to fall in love,” and “why does love hurt.”
Scientists say that the origin of love has a name: oxytocin. The hormone plays an important role in pair bonding, orgasm, and maternal behaviors. Scanning the brains of couples who say that they’re madly in love, Helen Fisher, a researcher at Rutgers University, found that some of the behavior patterns actually resemble obsessive-compulsive disorder. Oxytocin isn’t just the culprit in romantic couplings: Mothers with high levels of oxytocin seem to bond better with their offspring, while moms suffering post-partum depression have low levels.
Most people are inclined to view love less as a disease, more as a passion that inspires poetry and connects soul mates. Pop culture tells us that love is looking across a crowded dance floor and reading your future in someone’s face.
“The fact is, not all love comes as a thunderbolt,” says Dr. Pepper Schwartz, author of “Prime: Adventures and Advice on Sex, Love, and the Sensual Years” and chief relationship expert for PerfectMatch.com. Even if two people don’t feel an instant physical attraction, sometimes just a twinkle in the eye, the way someone moves, or the sound of a voice can create need and desire. “There are many kinds of love: selfish, insecure, anxious, warm, comfortable, passionate, and sacrificial,” Schwartz says, “but they’re all connected.”
Before joining Yahoo! as a Search editor, Eugenia Chien was a reporter at New America Media in San Francisco. Her work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, on KQED, and on KALW. She crushes on geek heroes, transit enthusiasts, and animal lovers.