I received the following question in my inbox from a young woman.
My mind is completely pre occupied with the thoughts of someone I think I am falling in love with. I am not sure how he feels about me? I don’t know what to do. I cannot stop thinking of him and it is driving me crazy…Can you please help? ( Looking for advice)
My first reaction was, how amazing and how wonderful to be in love and be pre occupied with the thoughts of your beloved. On probing further I came to know that she was in “love “ with a married man who although had shown an interest in her was in no way ready to be with her in the long term.
She was twisting and turning in knots thinking about him and her future. She wanted me to tell her what to do.
Of course the easy approach to adopt would be to say to her that she was being completely silly and that she should forget about this guy and find someone who was better suited and single. She did not come to me to hear exactly what every one was telling her. Her friends, her well wishers and her family were all saying the same thing. Forget about him and move on.
I think she wanted some sort of consolation and affirmation about what she was doing. According to her, “ She did not intend falling in love with a married man, it just happened.”
Of course , it just happened. Love is the least understood and yet the most desired of emotions. Love is what makes life worth living, love is what brings joy, love is happiness, but the same love leads to pain, heartbreak, sadness and misery. So what do we make of this thing called love.
Love does seem to be a very addictive drug and recent research suggests that romantic attraction is in fact a primitive, biologically based drive, like hunger or sex. While lust makes our eye wander, it's the drive for romance that allows us to focus on one particular person, though we often can't explain why.
Often we are more in love with the idea of being in love. We have been primed by various media that we are incomplete and the only way to joy and happiness is to find that one person who completes us. No wonder we are constantly searching for that special someone.
In this case the young lady in question has just come out of a relationship and it is not surprising that she is feeling an emptiness that she thinks can only be filled by this particular beau. The initial rush of adrenalin at the first meeting has somehow made her think that she is in love. Of course there is infatuation and lust, but then who am I to say that it is not love.
The evidence however points otherwise. They met at a theme park, where he was out with his children. They went on a roller coaster ride and had a coffee. All of the above give a false positive as far as love is concerned.
Roller coaster and coffee raise the heart beat and release adrenalin and hugging children raises oxytocin ( the bonding hormone). Raised heart beat is also associated with love, lust and passion. This combination is almost as lethal as drugs and alcohol to woo a woman. In the case of this particular lady, she has probably been misled by adrenalin and oxytocin.
According to Helen Fisher , biological anthropologist at Rutgers University , people in love often show the signs of surging dopamine: increased energy, less need for sleep or food, focused attention and exquisite delight in smallest details of this novel relationship, very similar to affects of cocaine. This power is enough to warp judgment in otherwise sensible people.
So it is not surprising that the lady in question feels completely smitten and all she can think of is an expected high!
On the flip side , if passionate romance is like a drug, as the MRI images suggest, then it's bound to lose its kick. Studies of dating and engaged couples find that feelings of passionate love and infatuation tend to fade quickly in the first year, and a year or two later often are all but gone. Seeing romance as a biologically based, drug-like state can at least provide some balm for a broken heart. Like a drug addict would tell you, "the highs don't last, but neither does the withdrawal. With time the craving and pain go away and the brain returns to normal."
So my advice would be to hold off on the urge for a while and see how she feels.
Also she could try and enlist support of friends and talk about her feelings. Even better than that would be for her to find someone who is going through some sort of challenge and offer her help and support to that person.
When we focus our attention on something beyond ourselves, our pains and desires become inconsequential. In this case, she is hurting and in pain because of unrequited love. According to Buddha, what ever we want in life we need to give that away. In this case, her love is not even considered sanctimonious so I doubt she will get any sympathy from her friends, but she could most certainly give love to those who are lonely. Especially at this time of the year, it could be an opportunity to spread good cheer.
In a nutshell, my advice- keep your heart open for love and give love away to all instead of focusing on this one person who is unavailable.
The repercussions of acting on her desires could be extremely painful for a lot of people involved. I am sure she would not want to be happy being the 5th wheel and I see no solution at this stage other than asking her to be open and loving towards herself and the world at large. ☺
Shveitta Sethi Sharma
Chief Happiness Officer
“ In Happiness”