“You’d think people would get tired of stupid love songs“sang Paul McCartney.
He was responding to John Lennon, who when the Beatles broke up told the world, “All Paul ever wrote was stupid love wishes.”
But maybe some love songs aren’t so silly? Maybe they tell us more about the realities of romantic love than we realize?
Here are six examples.
1. “I can’t help falling in love” (George Weiss/Hugo Peretti/Luigi Creatore)
Like a river flows
Surely at sea
Honey, so it’s okay
Some things are made to be
The idea that you can’t help but fall in love makes a lot of sense, and the analogy of a river flowing to the sea is a good one. When you talk to people about their experiences of falling in love, this is what many of them tell you: they felt carried away; they were not in control; it felt like it was “meant to be”.
Neuroscience suggests it’s because even though you’re aware you’re falling in love, powerful emotions are driven by your unconscious brain.
It seems like we’re hardwired to fall in love. Evolutionary neuroscience suggests it evolved over millions of years to cause humans to focus on a specific mate so they would stay together long enough to care for their offspring, who would become dependent for longer.
What we now call “falling in love” is the legacy of that drive, and we really can’t help it.
Source: ShortCutstv, used with permission
2. “I’m so excited” (June Pointer/Anita Pointer/Ruth Pointer/Trevor Lawrence)
I’m so excited, and I can’t hide it
And I know, I know, I know, I know, I know I want you.
This Pointer Sisters song brilliantly captures the jaw-dropping excitement of falling in love. But why is it so exciting to fall in love? Simply put, there’s a sudden chemical explosion in your brain, which the relatively new science of love is beginning to piece together.
When people who are newly in love are asked to look at pictures of their beloved or just think about them, MRI imaging shows that the brain’s reward system is activated. Recognizing a reward in the making, the ventral tegmental area buried deep within the brainstem begins to spray dopaminergic neurons to the brain’s higher-level reward centers, which sense and motivate the pursuit of rewards.
The flood of dopamine and norepinephrine triggers excitement, racing heart, sweaty palms and elation. At the same time, oxytocin is released from the pituitary gland, which elevates your mood and deepens the feelings of bonding to your new love.
“Dopamine and oxytocin make you feel amazing,” says love researcher Anna Machin from the University of Oxford. “Oxytocin makes you happy, relaxed and calm; and dopamine is your general reward chemical. You’re doing something you really love and you want more of it.
This way, falling in love can be like an addiction.
And it’s no surprise that the brain of someone newly in love resembles that of a cocaine user.
3. “The Best” (Holly Knight/Mark Chapman)
You’re just the best
Better than all the rest
better than anyone,
Everyone I’ve met
Tina Turner sings about a shared experience of falling in love. Your new love is truly better than anyone you’ve met. They can’t hurt.
Like Laura Mucha, author of love in fact, says: “You ignore all the flaws, you idealize them and you project whatever you want onto them, because you don’t really know them and so you’re free to paint them as the most perfect being ever. “
But why does your new love seem so perfect, so blameless?
Neuroscience has discovered that the chemical blast of falling in love also causes deactivation in parts of the prefrontal cortex associated with “mentalizing” and the ability to judge the actions of others. Your critical mind is drugged by infatuation.
“Your friends might tell you that this person is not for you at all,” says Anna Machin. “But you can’t see it because the area of your brain that makes judgments isn’t working. So, love is a form of blindness, a form of madness.
And your new love is simply the best. For a while, at least.
Source: ShortCutstv, used with permission
4. “Love Hurts” (Boudleaux Bryant)
love is like a flame
It burns you when it’s hot
Ooh, ooh, love hurts
“Hardly anyone makes it out of love alive,” wrote love researcher Helen Fisher. In his survey, over 90% of respondents said they had been rejected by someone they liked.
Bryant’s song compares the pain of lost love to physical pain. And that’s much closer to the truth than we once thought. Recent research has shown that the anterior cingulate cortex, which is important for acute and chronic pain perception, is also active in processing emotional pain.
And the emotional pain of a lost love cannot be assuaged by drugs or surgery. In fact, it is likely to get worse.
“When you got dumped,” says Helen Fisher, “you just love them harder.”
The pain of love can last a long time, and sometimes it never really goes away.
5. “Always That One” (John Hall/Johanna Hall)
We’ve been together a long time when
Sometimes I never want to see you again
But I want you to know, after all these years,
You’re still the one I want to whisper in my ear
Of course, the crazy, wonderful madness of falling in love doesn’t last. It is not possible. It wasn’t supposed to. Brain chemistry settles and the prefrontal cortex re-ignites. The mists clear and you can see who you really fell in love with.
You may be horrified and wonder what were you thinking? (you were not.).
You tell yourself that you must have been crazy. (You were.)
But sometimes the relationship can evolve into another form of love that researchers call attachment. “That’s probably what love is,” says Anna Machin. “It’s that attachment stage where you build a deep relationship with that person.”
“Falling in love isn’t really a choice,” says Laura Mucha. “It’s really easy. And it’s exciting. But what makes a relationship last is choosing to stay in it.
And if your love is Always the One, it is now based on reality rather than addiction, illusion and imagination.
6. “Silly Love Songs” (Paul McCartney/Linda McCartney)
This song ends with a question.
Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs.
What’s wrong with that?
Nothing at all.
They help us celebrate the crazy excitement of falling in love, deal with the pain of lost love, and offer hope that, if you’re very lucky, this time will last.