Yes I do ... but be loved... that's something else.

When looking across the entire spectrum of human emotion, the feeling I’ve had the most difficult time trying to encapsulate and internalize is without a doubt, love. Love for me has always been a bit of an enigma. I can perceive it in others and I can conceptualize it, but I’ve always had this sneaking suspicion that the way I define it and the way I experience it is starkly different from everyone else. Today I want to explore that. I want to take some time to discuss some of the things I’ve discovered about the innate nature of love and some things I’ve discovered about myself and my approach along the way. Bear with me on this one folks – it’s going to seem like I’m jumping around, but I’m gonna bring it back home – I promise.

The first place I’d like to go in this exploration is science. What does science say about love? Well, like everything with science – it depends on who you ask. Most of the more reliable scientific research defines love as a series of hormones released at varying stages of a relationship. It is the release of testosterone and estrogen when a man and woman first meet that fuels initial attraction. The cause of this release can be a number of things from the obvious characteristics like aesthetics and grooming, to the not so obvious like body language and smell. After that initial attraction is established and the two of you begin exploring that attraction, the part of our brain that controls reward (the ventral tegmental) is activated. This part of the brain causes the release of dopamine – an addictive, ecstasy inducing hormone. You know that feeling you get when you hit the winning shot in a game of basketball, or that feeling you might have when you ace an exam you’ve been studying for – that’s dopamine – your brain’s way of rewarding you for your success. When we are engaged by an individual we’re attracted to, our brain releases dopamine giving us those same feelings of pleasure.

As with most drugs, that “dope” high is fleeting and the longer you’re with someone the more difficult it becomes for that person to stimulate your ventral tegmental and release that dopamine. This is where the hormone oxytocin kicks in. Oxytocin is one of the most amazing things produced naturally by our bodies. To put it plainly, oxytocin is like emotional glue. When released in our bodies it binds us to the individuals responsible for that release. The times where scientists see the greatest amounts of Oxytocin released in humans: you guessed it … during child birth and during an orgasm. This explains why the connection between a mother and her newly born child is immediate and usually unshakeable even though she really doesn’t know the child. Likewise, when two people bring each other to orgasm during sex – particularly if that orgasm is simultaneous, the amount of oxytocin present in the room at that time is off the charts and the bond that is subsequently created is incomparable to any other bond humans have between one another. Sex is natural, sex is beautiful, sex is powerful and as far as science is concerned, sex is love making.

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The thing that intrigues me about this scientific approach to defining love is that because all of these feelings we have are caused by our bodies release of specific hormones, the love we feel for others is essentially uncontrollable. We can try and fake it, but truthfully those hormones are either released, or they are not. Now while we can’t control our own hormonal release we can manipulate how others perceive us in order to stimulate a certain hormonal response in them. To put it plainly, based on the science, by perfecting your ability to stimulate hormonal release in others it is completely possible to manipulate someone into loving you regardless of how you may or may not feel about that person.

How does one do this you might ask? Well, if you’re a man unscrupulous enough to want to make a woman fall for you just for the sport – the biological steps are easy. Upon introduction, mind your body language; keep your shoulders back, your chin up and stand close enough to her to indicate interest without violating her personal space. Be clean and don’t wear heavy scents. Our bodies produce natural pheromones that attract the opposite sex but excessive odor caused by uncleanliness or heavy cologne can overpower and distract those natural olfactory aphrodisiacs. Add to that a decent wardrobe, some education and a dash of swag and by now she’s probably attracted, or at least intrigued. All you have to do from here is feed her natural dopamine addiction. The easiest way to do this is to control the consistency and depth of your communication. Instead of having a three hour phone conversation that ends happily having exhausted all there is to talk about, have a one our conversation that leaves her happy, but wanting more. After that, the only thing left is sex. If you can find away to give her the best sex of her life, you’ve pretty much sealed your place in her heart.

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Ladies, don’t feel bad, you have this same power over men. Upon meeting a man, wear clothes that afford him the opportunity to take note of the language your body is talking while leaving a lot to his imagination. Don’t be afraid to stand close to him and let him inhale a hint of all that makes you a woman. Add to that a decent shoe game, some education and a dash of swag and by now he’s probably attracted, or at least intrigued. From here, feed his addiction to dopamine by making yourself available to him at your leisure – not his. Then, all that’s left is sex. When the bedroom door closes and the lights go off, introduce him to your Sasha Fierce and your place in his heart will be sealed forever. This may not get you down the aisle – but you’ll at least have access to more of him than any other woman he’s ever known – on your own terms – for as long as you desire.

Look, I realize there are many other factors that can override the impact of hormones – particularly things like culture, social constructs and societal expectations – but biologically, it’s that simple. What separates men from women is that men use these powers indiscriminately and women only use them when a man has already piqued their interest.

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So what does all of this say about love? And where do I fit in all of this. I grew up believing that love was this inexplicable, inextricable, natural emotion. I thought it was something that was impossible to avoid and impossible to control. But this belief didn’t coincide with what I was experiencing because – no matter how hard I tried, I never felt it. What I’ve come to understand about myself is that I am one of those rare people whose brain has repressed its ability to allow others to influence my production of estrogen, dopamine and oxytocin at the same rates as everyone else. But the fact that I don’t feel love as much as everyone else doesn’t mean that I don’t know it’s there. I know that I am loved and because I know this, I’m able to reciprocate that love. By developing my own ability to stimulate that release of love in others I’ve been able to give back that which those who love me have given me – even if I’ve never fully accepted their gift. But that still leaves me with one question … am I being manipulative?

And what about you guys? Do you guys notice a difference between loving and being loved? Is your love the result of conscious effort, or is it something completely beyond your control? Anyone out there cold and bitter and incapable of anything related to love? All are welcome here – feel free to share how you got where ever it is you are. I really just wanna know: How do you love?

*Admin Note*

Save the Date! Next Wednesday, August 31, 2011 – The SBM Fam will be hosting Happy Hour at The Empire Room at The Empire State Building from 6-10pm, please RSVP to rsvp@singleblackmale.org for further information and confirmation.

till then, yall know where I am – low and firing.

*Admin Note 2.0*

So that we can maintain site speed and preserve the likable like button, we’ve implemented a new comment system. You’ll find that it has a few cool features. Go forth and be merry with it.