Now Really, What Would You Rather Have:
Endless Romance or Railroads and Bridges?
'Biologically speaking, the reasons romantic love fades may be found in the way our brains respond to the surge and pulse of dopamine that accompanies passion and makes us fly. Cocaine users describe the phenomenon of tolerance: The brain adapts to the excessive input of the drug. Perhaps the neurons become desensitized and need more and more to produce the high--to put out pixie dust, metaphorically speaking. Maybe it's a good thing that romance fizzles. Would we have railroads, bridges, planes, faxes, vaccines and television if we were always besotted? In place of the ever-evolving technology that has marked human culture from its earliest tool use, we would have instead only bonbons, bouquets and birth control. More seriously, if the chemically altered state induced by romantic love is akin to a mental illness or a drug-induced euphoria, exposing yourself for too long could result in psychological damage. A good sex life can be as strong as Gorilla Glue. But who wants that stuff on your arm?'
--from a dazzling cover story by a Boston shrink, Lauren Slater, in the February issue of National Geographic (alas, only this short excerpt is available online). It's easily the smartest Valentine's Day-themed piece I've seen in any publication thus far. But do send links to your favorites, dear readers.