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Love Lessons

No matter how you choose to define love, one fact remains clear: Love can be highly addictive. We are talking about passionate love, the beginning rush of emotions; the wave that floods us when we first fall in love.
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Ask a hundred people what the word love means and you are bound to get a hundred different answers.

"An intense feeling of longing for the person you're in love with and a feeling of completeness when you are in their presence," said one woman as she sighed deeply.

"Love is knowing she is mine and will stand by me through thick and thin," commented one man.

"Love is when you wish to wake up every morning next to the person who sends ripples through your body every time you look at them," declared another woman who looked dreamy eyed and seemed to be suddenly teleported to another time and place.

No matter how you choose to define love, one fact remains clear: Love can be highly addictive. We are talking about passionate love, the beginning rush of emotions; the wave that floods us when we first fall in love. The epoch closely related to feeling ill because we entertain symptoms such as nausea, loss of appetite pursued by going through two tubs of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, confusion, delusion, insomnia followed by sleeping at the oddest hours of the day since you spent the whole night watching romantic flicks, dizziness (perhaps as a result of an overdose of dairy products and quixotic movies) and temporary loss of sanity.

You begin losing friends because they are bored to death with hearing about it and embark on engaging in rather suspicious behaviors such as resembling a stalker by lurking around in locations where the beloved might make a cameo appearance, searching for every or any environmental message or cue that has been sent down to us from the heavens as a sign, picking out the names of your future children with this person whom you may not have even eaten a meal with yet and going on a crash diet because you wish to fit beautifully in the dress you have picked out already for the auspicious occasions of meeting the in-laws. Sound familiar? I thought so...

Once we have had a taste of these cocktail of emotions and visited this intoxicating yet mad state, we seem to be hooked for life. Even though philosophers and poets have been asserting this notion for centuries it has only been since recently that the medical world has recognized what could be drug-like qualities of love and have identified physiological changes in the body that may be responsible for the thrilling and sometimes frightening beginning phases of passionate love.

Dr John Marsden, senior lecturer in addictive behavior at the National Addictive Centre and Institute of Psychiatry explains, "the brain has internal drug factories. Physical attraction causes a combination of chemicals to be released that activate dopamine, which makes us ecstatically happy when we are with the person we are falling in love with." The pleasure receptors are so strong that we crave this sensation and have withdrawal symptoms when deprived of them. However unfortunately or fortunately depending on how strong the addiction is and to what extent this substance starts to have detrimental effect on your every day life, this feeling doesn't last forever. "The chemicals are turned off over time," says Marsden.

Can you imagine a situation where the symptoms of passionate love do not subside or ease into a more comfortable and manageable type of affection? Our sleep patterns and dietary habits would be highly affected, we wouldn't be able to accomplish everyday tasks since we'd be either hungry, tired or both and perpetually wedged into that floating, dreamy trance.

Regardless of the duration or the temporary spirit of passionate love, you never forget that ecstatic honeymoon phase that made you think George Michael or Dido wrote the words of their latest song as a tribute to you. Mentally, you may revisit that era from time to time, making you smile and perhaps eliciting a tiny flutter in your gut where what seemed like dinosaurs used to roam every time you were anticipating a meeting with the beloved.

Some people are so completely addicted to this phase that they might unconsciously stamp an expiration date on their relationships. Kind of like a 'best before passionate love subsides' date which sends them through the fire exit as soon as they feel the heat is off, no matter how healthy or functional their relationship might be. These people could be safely described as 'love junkies' and could possibly suffer from the same negative effects as any other kind of addiction. They may need therapy, along with other serial monogamists needing to attend LA (Loveoholics Anonymous) meetings. 'Hi, my name is Jane and I'm addicted to love.'

Evidently 'Jane' is captivated by these intense emotions, no doubt about that. Still, could it be just that she has yet to meet the man who will carry her to the moon, pass the stars and escort her safely back to earth without that crash landing? It may seem like a simple suggestion or idealistic explanation for an extremely complex sensation. However the fact remains that millions of people every day still choose to connect and remain with special people in order to share their lives, dreams and aspirations.

Remember, learning more results in living more...over to you.