The Love Vaccine January 18, 2009Posted by Onely in Dating, Food for Thought, Just Saying., single and happy.
Tags: fluvoxamine, Helen Fisher, infatuation, John Tierney, love vaccine, Monogamy Gene, oxytocin, Tierney Lab
Whenever I mention Onely to a civilian–I mean a non-blogger, and/or someone who hasn’t done a lot of questioning of social norms–they almost always ask me, “So, you’re committed to be single forever, then?” or “Then you’re a proponent of being single?” Well, yes and no. What these civilians seem to mean when they ask these questions is, “So, do you think less of coupling than singling?” As if the only possible reason to write a blog about a topic is because you dislike the opposite topic. As we explain in About Onely, Lisa and I are not, repeat, not against love or romantic relationships, for ourselves or for others.
However, I admit that the idea of a Love Vaccine immediately intrigued me. Prevent myself from ever again slipping into the goobery, obsessive foolishness of multiple unreturned text messages and phone calls? Tell me more! Ok: John Tierney at TierneyLab discusses the idea of this “vaccine” in response to the scintillating science story about the monogamy gene and the power of the “love potion” oxytocin. As we come to understand more of the biochemical underpinnings of the rush of love, Tierney says, will we find a market for drugs that act as oxytocin and vasopressin blockers, immunizing patients against heady, ill-advised infatuation?
He asks this with his tongue only partially in his cheek, pointing out that such a “vaccine” already kind of exists, according to Dr. Helen Fisher, super expert on the neurochemistry of romance and Chief Scientific Advisor to the dating site Chemistry.com. Fisher tells Tierney that seratonin enhancing antidepressants “. . . can jeopardize your ability to form long-term attachments”.
Full disclosure: your fearless Onely correspondent has been on varying dosages of the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) fluvoxamine for ten years. Oh Copious Readers, does this mean that my independent inclinations, my comfort with the single life, and the whole premise of this blog, are partial products of being doped up? Of being so serotonergically saturated that my brain isn’t open to love?
Am I not, in fact, really happy being single? Am I in biochemical denial?
I would argue no. Although my fluvoxamine certainly influences how I relate to others, both romantically and platonically, that influence has been overwhelmingly positive. As a more mentally balanced person, I relate much better to my fellow man. Without the fluvoxamine, I used to be very distressed and irritable, hardly the kind of person who attracts long-term attachments. In fact, just before I started the SSRI, I was such a mental wreck that my long-term attached boyfriend left me. Now, largely recovered but still on a low maintenance dose of the fluvoxamine, I have a number of “long-term attachments” in my life; they are just not necessarily romantic ones.
Anyone out there on an SSRI and think it impedes, facilitates, or otherwise influences their love life?
And: are there times and places in your life when you would consider getting vaccinated against love? Like before the bar exam? Or during a stay at the space station? Or if you really want to finish that novel that’s been fermenting in your laptop for four years?