Fireworks, Feelings & Forever

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If you have ever had your socks knocked off, literally and figuratively, by someone whose very presence left your...
If you have ever had your socks knocked off, literally and figuratively, by someone whose very presence left your heart racing, sweaty palmed, flushed and short of breath, you'll know first hand just how powerfully our bodies' 'chemical' desires can influence us. Whether glued to the spot with a stupid grin on your face unable to say anything remotely intelligent, or shamelessly ripping your clothes off in the middle of the supermarket seconds after your eyes lock for the first time, one thing is very clear: logic and lust don't make good bedfellows.

So how important is it for the success of a long term relationship to start by finding a Mr or Miss Throw-My-Panties-On-The-Stage? And is a killer chemical connection with all its fireworks, passion and intensity really any indication of a 'happy ever after'?

Well despite the fact that Hollywood would lead us to believe that this kind of feeling is a precursor to a great relationship, and that everything from weddings to wars have eventuated from two people falling desperately head over heels for each other, science has discovered the truth may be a very different story.

It turns out it's good news at last for all those guys and girls who value friendships over feelings, and bad news for those of us who have all too quickly jumped ship when the raging fires of passion quiet to the smouldering embers of home, heart and hearth. It seems the latest research from the boys with the bunsen burners delivers a near fatal blow to our preconceived modern idea of 'love at first sight' and opts for the more traditional 'helpmeet' or buddy-buddy system based on life outside the bedroom which, let's face it, takes up a good deal more of our time than even marathon lovers like Casanova can muster.

The fact is that the very emotions that feel most real when falling head over heels in love or lust, and I do deliberately use the two 'L' words together as they share the same neural pathways, are the least reliable emotions of all. That overpowering urge to give yourself over against all your better judgement is more often than not a bum steer based on a glut of 'feel good' chemicals flooding your brain in the exact same sequence as cocaine and other illegal drugs do. Yes technically you are 'high as a kite' in a very real sense.

Now this is an important thing to remember because we all know that what goes up must come down, hence the unfortunate fate of most of the world's whirlwind romances. If spared Romeo and Juliet-esque style dramas, a healthy dose of something even more powerful -'mundane reality'- eventually drives the last nail into the coffin. 

Of course if we used a little of our previously abandoned logic we would realise that it would be a physical impossibility to maintain the level of intensity and obsession for any one person for any length of time without deeply affecting our work, mental state, other relationships and everything else in our life in an unhealthy manner. So why do so many of us insist on seeking the holy grail of euphoric yearning at the expense of perfectly good long term prospects, the thought of whom makes us smile tenderly rather than salivate with desire?

Well as I mentioned addiction is a vitally important driving force in the natural world. It's nature's way of ensuring we go about the business of keeping the species alive - eating, sleeping and having sex - so its quite natural to want to desire or be desired. The problem arises on those odd occasions when the moon is in the right position and the wind is blowing from the right direction, when your mind is least expecting it and your body is waiting for it, that Mr or Miss Rock-My-World wafts into pheromoneal view causing all your sexual dominos to fall and leaving you a heaving pulsating puddle of desire speechless on the floor.

Under these exceptional, rare and delicious circumstances our brain, or what's left of it, reasons that if this person has made me feel this good then it MUST mean something. Unfortunately the reality is this person didn't actually do anything to you at all aside from provide perhaps a few timely chemical, visual or sensory cues. Hardly a resume to bet the rest of your life on. What actually happened was YOUR body, brain and cacophony of chemicals provided the feelings and emotions you label 'love/lust', not theirs. They were a simple and often random catalyst at the right place at the right time. You only have to look into your past to see people who drove you wild that barely muster 'mild' on your hot-o-meter now. Once the hormonal orchestra has stoped playing and reality has flown home, chances are you or they will be left wondering what all the fuss was about.

So back to the moral of this story. If you're looking for the 'big bang', the fireworks signifying 'this is the one' you may be in for a long wait or a rude awakening. We all love the excitement of that first encounter but it is no guarantee whatsoever of things to come. 'True lasting love' is measured not by the intensity of the short term feelings but by the warm unselfish glow of togetherness through the long term daily grind we like to call reality. Sadly many potentially great relationships are lost or never given a chance to begin with when one party gets caught up in a chemical rush that distracts them from the business of bonding.

But whichever way you like it - wild, fiery and fleeting or intimate, long and strong - remember, Mother Nature isn't interested in what you think a relationship should look or feel like, she has her own agenda, and a lifetime is a long time so look for the reality you can't live without, rather than the fantasy you can't live with.  

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