Monday, January 14, 2019

Falling in Love with a Toxic Male

Hang on to your hat. Is it possible that, for one and only one time, the poets are wrong? Poets have long since believed that true love is a species of madness. It’s why we say that someone falls madly in love. To be clear, it does not mean that you are naturally more likely to get mad at someone you love, but still.

Anyway, scientific research has thrown this into doubt. By the latest science, true love is more like a virus than like insanity. What would we do without science?

I will leave aside for now the intriguing speculation that madness is really a virus.

How did scientists make this soul-shattering discovery? Why, they measured the interferon levels of women who had just fallen in love. And they discovered that interferon, whose primary function is to fight viral infections, increases when a woman first falls in love. I do not know whether this has any relationship to an increase in oxytocin, so we await that research.

For the record, the researchers have not studied the interferon levels of male subjects. Of course, that would assume that men fall in love just as women do. It seems like an overly optimistic assessment of the biochemical makeup of toxic human beings. And the study does not say, to my knowledge whether the women whose interferon levels increase, fell in love with male or female subjects. If their beloved was male, this would prove that men really are toxic, not in the sense of being poison, but in the sense of being viral.

Will wonders never cease?

Anyway, the Daily Mail has this compelling story:

When women fall in love, they experience physiological changes similar to those seen in people fighting a virus, research shows. 

It continues:

Researchers found that new love activates genes to produce interferon, which is a protein usually released to combat viruses. 

'New romantic love is accompanied not only by psychological changes, but physiological changes as well,' scientists noted in the report, published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. 

The report continued: 'These findings are consistent with a selective up-regulation of innate immune responses to viral infections... and provide insight into the immuno-regulatory correlates of one of the keystone experiences in human life.'

The scientists will now set out to study what happens when true love matures, when people move beyond the honeymoon stage and make a life together.For now, it appears that interferon levels diminish … perhaps because marriage cures women of their expectations about true love. Or because marriage mitigates the toxicity or virality of the male of the species.

And yes, I do know that virality is a new word. Isn’t it strange that this word bears such a close resemblance to the word: virility?

The story concludes:

Findings suggested that it may also be possible to test to see if people really are in love and whether that emotion gradually wades [sic] over a period of time. 

'Some research suggests that psychological changes associated with romantic love may be attenuated as the relationship matures,' the experts said. 

'The biological correlates of love might abate with the maturation of a longer-term more stable mate bond.'

In those cases where the flame had started to burn out, researchers found evidence of women's interferon levels decreasing.


Anonymous said...

My guess is that interferon levels rise in anticipation of the exposure to foreign viruses from the physical contact that is likely to ensue.

Anonymous said...

Was about to post what anonymous1 just said.
Would be a sensible/evolutionary defense mechanism for the female's biology.

Doubtful the sci-pop/media article would look that deep,though.

Sam L. said...

"Findings suggested that it may also be possible to test to see if people really are in love and whether that emotion gradually wades over a period of time." Wades???? I suspect it's supposed to be "wanes".