Love Factually – an honest assessment of love or an antidote for the sickness?

8 May

When Laura Mucha, author of Love Factually, The science of Who, How and Why We Love, was asked why she wrote a book about love, she answered: “because I just didn’t understand love.” And in honesty, who does?

Raised from a young age in an all-woman household (by her mother and grandmother), Laura was not privy to relationships and took to quizzing those around her to help develop her understanding. As an adult, after a cardiac arrest which caused her to face her own mortality, she chose to return to the question of love and write a book about it.

Love, according to Laura comes in different forms: lust, romantic love and companionship. And partners, too, can be secure, avoidant or anxious in relationships – a state which is heavily influenced by our upbringing.

Does Love at First Sight exist?

Disconnected from her emotions, Laura is an avoidant. If she were to be an anxious companion, she would be stressed out and needy – unsurprisingly the two types are not conducive to a successful relationship.

But it is possible to change with reflective thinking and a lot of hard work. It is at this point that we are reminded the way we think and act in a relationship is down to us, not our partner.

It is true that love or attraction is a drug, it can cloud our thought processes and cause us to make mistakes, rush into relationships and make impulsive decisions which can serve to change lives. In the height of attraction, we produce high levels of dopamine and norepinephrine which make us feel giddy, energetic and euphoric they can also lead to decreased appetite and insomnia.

With infidelity up to 72 percent, it would appear that lust is overtaking love. However, when Laura explored the reasons for cheating the results were unexpected, with most doing so for career advancement, a desire for variety and to combat feelings of inadequacy.

Still, however, 88 percent of 20 to 29 years old are waiting for the soulmate or the false imagery of relationships perpetually sold to them by films, music lyrics and media alike. Humans can love more than one person, and as Laura asks, “if you can love more than one child, why can you not love one than more partner?.”

Laura is married with one child and believes the evidence for ‘love, at first sight’, does not exist, and when asked on an Australian breakfast television programme if she was in love, answered, “it depends by, what you mean by in love.” Because as Laura says, quite often love and lust are mistaken as being the same and they are in fact quite different.

Laura Mucha: I just didn't understand love. Photo © Fernando Bagué

Monogamy as a concept is one to respected but is it realistic? Laura shared swans have always symbolised everlasting love because of their monogamous pair bonds until DNA testing proved that some cygnets were the result of an illicit encounter. Which begs the question: if even the symbol of monogamy is polyamorous, what hope is there for us?

But, there is hope as Laura shares her conversation with an Argentinian man who had been married for 75 years: he said the two qualities he looks for in a partner are kindness and understanding.

So, how can we be successful in love? Laura ends, philosophically, “who you choose will change who you are over time. Therefore, before you settle down in a relationship, it is important to ask yourself the question, who do you want to be?”

Laura Mucha appeared at Swindon Spring Festival, 8 May 2019 at Swindon Arts Centre.

Words by Emma Smith, photos © Fernando Bagué.

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