“If you know anyone who is colorblind,” said the late psychologist John Money, “then you have a good idea of what it means to be love-blind.” What Professor Money is talking about isn’t the starry-eyed young person who falls in love, but the individual who seems entirely normal—social, friendly, and handsome or attractive, but who just never seems to fall in love with anyone. Believe it or not, love-blindness is but one of a broad spectrum of romantic problems now believed to result—at least in part—from chemical instabilities or malfunctions in the brain.
Another interesting aspect of this research is the fact that scientists can actually identify the “chemicals of love”. It still isn’t clear whether it is the chemical that produces the emotion, or the emotion that produces the chemical. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? But it’s a fact: love is more than an emotion.
Another doctor, Michael Liebowitz, authored a book entitled The Chemistry of Love, and Dr. Liebowitz contends that when somebody falls in love there is a high similarity to the effect of amphetamines, which eventually mellows. He writes, “A giddy high similar to an amphetamine boost inevitably accompanies the state of falling in love. But with continued intimacy, the novelty of the relationship wears off, and the initial feeling of elation usually gives way to new emotions that serve to cement the tie between partners. At this stage, the presence of a loved one no longer heightens arousal but has a calming influence, inducing a sense of general well-being.”
There you have it; some scientific evidence for what you’ve known all along. It’s like the old joke, “you can tell a person in love, but you can’t tell them very much.” On the serious side, research into the chemistry of love has thankfully enabled those who otherwise could not carry on normal relationships, to thrive in healthy, loving relationships.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
But we still can’t create love in a test tube. There is something to human love, which defies lab analysis; it is the chemistry that binds us to each other, that gives us the strength to endure years of separation and privation and causes us to choose that one special person above all others in the world. Love is still the strongest force in all the world, the greatest motive for changes in personal behavior, and the glue that keeps relationships from disintegrating.
In all the writings of the poets and mystics, no finer description of the chemistry of love has ever been written than that which came from the pen of the Apostle Paul, who wrote to people in the Greek city of Corinth long ago. In the famous love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, Paul makes 15 statements about love’s chemistry. Listen to them: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant; love does not make a fool of anyone; love does not seek its own; love is not provoked; love does not take into account wrong suffered; love does not rejoice in unrighteousness or wrongdoing; love rejoices with all truth; love bears all things; love believes all things; love hopes in all things; love endures all things; and love never fails.”
No force in the entire world has the power to change people as does love. Talk to the prison chaplain, a sponsor in a recovery program, the counselor in a juvenile detention program, or the pastor who deals with the needs of people. You will learn that it takes only one person who really cares to produce a change in the recipient of that love. What scientific research has borne out, we’ve known all along—love is transformative.
Resource reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-8