Friends and Lovers

In the course of our brief human lives, we generally make a large number of friends. Some are casual acquaintances while others are lasting friends, directly impacting the course of our lives. Both groups offer companionship, unique points of view and a vital source of color amidst our tedious obligations and personal turmoil. For all of these benefits, we appreciate our friends and, even after they have left our lives, we think of them often.

In contrast, the few humans with whom we have a deep romantic relationship, however brief, occupy an enduring place in our soul that matches or may supercede our emotional tie to genetic relatives. At times painfully concious, the bond to a past lover haunts our mind, surfacing in dreams or whenever certain triggers are encountered (music, dates, places or scenarios in books and film, to name a few). Unlike our memories tied to friendships, these recollections are, more often than not, launch pads for regret, self doubt and unhappiness.

Why is romantic love such firmly and permanently imbedded in our souls? It seems likely that such a relationship, nature's mechanism for procreation and species survival, involves connections to multiple regions of our brain, many of which are sensitive to specific genetic signaling from our lover; these signals, which are likely transmitted via all of our sensory systems, direct us toward genetically compatible individuals. In the course of this process, strong emotions become hard-wired in our brains, destined to haunt us for the rest of our days.