Saturday, 14 February 2015

Sitting in the Nose Bleeds Watching the Frey

I'm gonna crap all over Cupid... the vacuous, plump little man-bird.

Today is the day some of us get cards with wee hearts and an innocuous Hallmark inscription scrawled inside. After a split-second and a peck on the cheek, we start to think of the eighteen boxes of chocolate we bought for ourselves and have been stuffing into our mouths by the fistful for the past week whilst hidden in the kitchen pantry - chocolate, caramel and rum filling smeared all over our fingers and face - dark chocolate saliva slinking from the corner of our smirking lips – pausing at every odd sound like a wide-eyed, chipmunk-cheeked, milk chocolate convict.

Ah... romance.

Whether yours is broken, throbbing, cracked, bludgeoned or over-the-moon stoned on industrial strength Endorphins, today is heart day. Some of us will be spending time with a new love fawning over each other until it's difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. Some of us will be spending our day with someone we have known for years. Still others will be spending time with the love of our life... ourselves.

Today is the day new love blossoms, old love rekindles, someone gets a note from a secret admirer, someone gets turned down, some laugh, some make love, some cry. It's a day that affects virtually everyone.

But, is it the heart after all?

University of Virginia psychologist Daniel Wegner coined the term “transactive memory” in 1985 where he studied couples and memory. He took half of a group of couples and paired them in their actual couple. The other half of the group were split up and paired with a person they did not know. Each pair were given samples of information, then asked questions afterwards. The couples who were with a partner they were not familiar with fared poorly. Those who were with their own familiar partner did much better in remembering details.

What Dr. Wegner found was there is a memory sharing between couples. People who are in a couple haven't a need to remember everything like they might when they are single. They can use their partner's memory. Those who were paired with an unfamiliar person fared less well because they didn't have the memory connection between them.

In a couple, each partner becomes responsible for remembering certain things and becomes a specialist in performing certain tasks. We can debate the rightness or fairness of this splitting all we like. It happens whether we agree with it or not. And, we are all capable of storing required memory and performing required tasks ourselves. It's simply more efficient in a couple.

There's a certain level of euphoria attached to becoming a couple. How much of that euphoria is actually relief? “I finally don't have to remember all that shit by myself anymore!” It's a different spin on the reasons for attraction. Perhaps we're attracted to a certain person because they capable and willing to do the crappy, mundane shit we don't want to do.

Therefore, romance is nothing more than me taking responsibility for shit you don't want to do and vise versa.

Done deal.

This would also explain a lot of other things along the winding road through hills and dales we call love. Consider the following list:

  • I get pissed off at you when I have to be responsible for shit you are supposed to handle, you lazy, scum-sucking slug.
  • I feel lonely because I am exhausted having to deal with all the crap on my own. Where is that one person to pick up all the slack?
  • I miss you when you're away because now I am forced to remember how to do all the shit again.
  • Break-ups hurt so much because you're taking those memories and responsibilities I stored with you away from me! Arse-hole.
  • I feel euphoria when you come home because I get to give responsibility back to you for the shit I can't remember how to deal with - like letting the baby out and changing the dog.
  • I begin to feel disconnected when you no longer hold up your end of the bargain and share your memory with me.

We feel euphoria or pain or loneliness in our chest and attribute the feeling to an expanding or breaking heart. Science now shows the heart is simply reacting to chemical reaction of the brain either by feeling relief that we have found someone to relieve us of remembering everything or by feeling anxiety and loss because we have lost part of our memory stored with a person we trusted to be there.

Indeed, it isn't just a feeling you have lost your mind when you break up. You actually have lost a piece of your mind. And it is painful.

This would explain why we are attracted to the same personality type over and over. It feels like we are getting our memories back. It would also explain why we are reluctant to give up on a relationship we shouldn't be in at all. That person, despite not fitting with us, has our external stored memory.

As for me, the operation was a success. I'm pretty happy remaining disconnected and watching the show from the nose-bleed section of the arena. You all just go ahead and dance the jig. I'm content right where I am with my memories... taking aim at the plump little winged man-bird with an evil grin curling my lips and milk chocolate saliva dripping down my chin.