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The Love Vaccine January 18, 2009

Posted by Onely in Dating, Food for Thought, Just Saying., single and happy.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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”.

Uh oh. 

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?



1. Lauri - January 19, 2009

I think an SSRI affected my sex life, but not my love life. That’s a pretty well-known affect that they can have.

But I started taking an SSRI years ago when it was considered to be the only solution to PMDD. So what happened to me when I had unmedicated PMDD? I spent a week of every month in utter despair. Now, it is chemical despair, but when you’re in chemical despair, you need something to focus on. What did I focus on? I focused on being single, and how miserable I was being single and how I wanted to die rather than spend another day single. If I had a love interest who wasn’t calling me back or didn’t love me back…well that was worse.

I haven’t felt this way once in the 7 years since I started treating my PMDD…

2. onely - January 20, 2009

“when you’re in chemical despair, you need something to focus on” Absolutely. We evolved as cause-and-effect seekers (“what’s the cause of those shivers down my back? Oh yes, the tiger in the bushes”). Our brains are programmed to look for explanations for our feelings; sometimes any explanation will do–though it may or may not be a “correct” one. –CC

3. lori - January 20, 2009

CC, I’m loathe to opine on whether you’re happy because you’re doped, or because you’ve settled into your own skin on your terms, but I will anyway- I wonder if being medicated merely allowed you to find that contentment that you do truly feel. It’s not one or the other but both. Besides, don’t we mostly all medicate in some capacity?

On that note, I found it ironic that the last line refers to an unfinished novel on the laptop: depression, unrequited love and heartbreak have been the ultimate catalysts for some of the world’s best art, music, literature, poetry, etc..

“Attachment” is who we are; be it in the form of eros, agape, philia; or attachment for our stuff, lifestyle, ideas. Detachment is a whole life-journey for many of us; and the more I experience, I find myself becoming less prone to emotional drama. That said, I seriously don’t ever again want to go through the heartbreak that I did 6 1/2 years ago, but I can’t imagine trading that whole wonderful-then-awful experience, if occasionally I still wish I had never met him. I think I am much more comfortable being single partially because of that unrequited love, but mainly because I’ve become more interesting and can amuse myself in a myriad of ways I couldn’t before. Here’s the kicker- the guy broke off our relationship several weeks after he began taking anti-depressants. I always blamed the drugs first, the man second. The second time we dated and broke up, I blamed the man only.

4. lori - January 20, 2009

no, wait- second time I also blamed myself. duh

5. onely - January 21, 2009

“I wonder if being medicated merely allowed you to find that contentment that you do truly feel”
Thanks, I can buy that! = ) –CC

6. professor what if - January 27, 2009

It would be nice to have a handy “no love” pill that one could take when a lot of writing needs to be done (as per your other post of writing as “onley” activity) or when a lot of any work needs to be done. I don’t think I would want a full vaccine, but temporary doses would be nice! They would also come in handy when you are in a relationship and having a long, drawn out argument. A few days of “no love” would be a great relief in these circumstances so you could forget about the person who is driving you mad and get down to work (or other life pursuits…)

7. onely - January 27, 2009

Not bad PWI–I could deal with controlled intermittent doses of such a substance myself. I think though that using the Substance after an argument would only work if BOTH parties took it. Otherwise I can imagine all sorts of trouble, breakups, etc.

While we’re at it, here are the other vaccines some of us need: America’s Next Top Supermodel Vaccine. Rush Limbaugh Vaccine. Not Using Turn Signals Vaccine.

8. Roxanne - September 1, 2014

Greetings! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if
you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form?
I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one?

Thanks a lot!

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