The Love Triangle

Love, lust and liberty

Are we free to live according to our hearts and desires? Or do expectations inhibit us from loving more than one person at a time? Perhaps we are mere slaves to our hormones.

One heart, one mind and two deserving loves

In Milan Kundera’s novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Tereza and Sabina share Tomas’ affections. Tomas is intensely passionate with both his loves. As 19th Century novelist Francis Smedley wrote, ‘All is fair in love and war.’ So is Tomas simply exercising his just right to sexual freedom?

Daniel Day-Lewis,Tomas, and Lena Olin,Sabina, in Philip Kaufman’s movie ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’

What of our dual lover’s responsibility to Tereza and Sabina? Tomas continues his intimacies with Sabina once he’s committed to Tereza. But the fervour and innate instability of the love triangle cannot endure. So is Tomas bound by his lustful passions? Or is he living his truth regardless of consequence? Kundera leaves us to meditate on the fragility of life and ongoing human connection in a context of rising communism – a regime that sort to control the physical and intellectual freedoms of the individual.

Day-Lewis’s Tomas, with Juliette Binoche as Tereza

Driven by dopamine

According to anthropologist, Helen Fisher our experience of love and lust has biochemical foundations. The feel good hormone, dopamine is released when we love. Both lust and love increase neural activity in distinct  brain regions. Let’s look at the types of love she describes •    lust •    romantic love     attachment or long term love.

Mate or bust

Lust is our animal desire for sex, fulfilling our purpose to mate and procreate. It gets us looking for a range of partners … Ah, our dual lover, shopping around.

Like cocaine and chocolate

Hmmm…With the right chemistry and timing, romantic love arrives – a deep yearning, from the kind of mind when you’re reaching for a piece of chocolate, the addictive ‘part that becomes active with the rush of cocaine.’

‘Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides.’

Louis de Bernieres, Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Oh! The love triangle of Kristen, Rob and Rupert

Then the long term love, ah…

While romantic love focuses our mating energies on one person, conserving time and energy, deep attachment to a long term partner is coupled with a sense of calm and security. Finally. It’s evolved so we can tolerate each other long enough to raise children. Really.

‘Love is what’s left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.’

Captain Corelli again

Why then the love triangles?

We don’t always centre these three loves on one person. We can dream about many – like there’s ‘a committee meeting of lovers’ in our heads. Aha! So acting on the committee meeting triggers a love triangle. Well, as with our dual lovers, we become attached to a new love – hormones – and whammo! Trapped. Two deserving loves. Trouble brewing however as lovers soon become possessive. Try taking a toy away from a toddler. And in a democracy? Ah, our actions still affect others. 

                  So then it becomes a question of … ethics. Oh! To watch Helen Fisher, Why we love, why we cheat, go to Ted talks <http://www.ted.com/talks/helen_fisher_tells_us_why_we_love_cheat.html>

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6 thoughts on “The Love Triangle

  1. Although we may take this in, we can only truly understand if we consider also the answer to this question: were humans creatures that were meant to mate for life, or has that been forced upon us by religion and social expectation?

    • A fascinating question and one that we can contemplate over time. I think originally humans were programmed to procreate in order for our species to continue so the drive to mate was paramount. As we have become more socialised and our communities more complex, sex and procreation have taken on other purposes as well – including love, pleasure, fantasy etc. But still when dealing with the human heart and sex…it can be complicated when our emotions get entangled.

  2. Finally found this. Complex? Yes. Individual? Yes.Love’s definition is as broad as mankind. “Arranged” marriages are a norm in many socities, including marriage to cousins – see Europe 50-100 years ago. European royalty was like that; now the Harries and Williams of royalty are breaking the mould – may improve the genetic stock! Pheromones? Other agents? Body auras? Electromagnetic fields? Chemistry, by another nasme? I think it’s somewhere in the last three for Zonjia nd myself. We have had 52 years of practice and it still ticks louder than ever!

    • Wow. You’ve found the secret formula to keep the hormones ticking! The other agents – all part of the delicious mix. And here’s to a diverse genetic mix – royal or otherwise!

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