Does a science of romantic love even exist? Or is it something ineffable?
"We fall in love hoping that we will not find in the other what we know is in ourselves - all the cowardice, weakness, laziness, dishonesty, compromise and brute stupidity. We throw a cordon of love around the chosen one, and decide that everything that lies within it will somehow be free of our faults and hence lovable. We locate inside another a perfection that eludes us within ourselves, and through union with the beloved, hope somehow to maintain (against evidence of all self-knowledge) a precarious faith in the species."
- Alain de Botton, Essays in Love
According to Dawn Maslar, self-help author and dating coach, the first pull towards love is remarkably simple - her dating advice includes optimising your online dating photo by choosing one with a splash of the colour red. While this might seem reductive, the following video is somewhat more edifying. Having scoured everything from Gallup surveys to clinical psychology studies, she has quickly summarised key findings about how all the senses play a role in forming sexual attraction.
But love and sexual attraction aren't one and the same. To know your norepinephrine from your dopamine, check out this quick little 101 from ASAP Science.
Then, for a more detailed and thorough look at the scientific basis for all this, you might consider reading biological anthropologist Helen Fisher's book, Why We Love. You can dip your toe into her research with this TED Talk.
The Effect, 10 Jul - 16 Aug 2014, Wharf 1 Theatre