Love is a dangerous disease. It can be a liability, and even be deadly. Happy Valentine’s Day.
While being in love can have many positive psychological effects on our daily lives, it can also be the harbinger of death and despair. It could, after all, be reasonably classified as a psychological affliction.
Among the most troubling effects of love is its tendency to suspend rational judgement and logic. It may very well be true that love is blind, and it is not always a good thing.
“Love can have this effect on your mind, of doing crazy, destructive things,” says Dr. Sean Davis, professor at the California School for Professional Psychology (CSPP), Sacramento college campus, at Alliant University.
In the early stages of relationships, before it sometimes gets painful and boring, we tend to overly idealize our partners and also compromise ourselves. We become dependent, lose a sense of individuality, merge identities with our partner, shift priorities, and neglect other long standing relationships.
Aside from the existential crises, disappointment, and compromise, being in love can also have some serious physiological effects.1 Dr. Richard N. Gevirtz, CSPP professor, San Diego campus, and expert in physiological patterning, explains the painful side effects of love and rejection.
“When you experience the prolonged pain of rejection, the healthy rhythm in your heart goes away for long periods of time; this is called vagal withdrawal. Prolonged vagal withdrawal changes your heart rate and rhythm, turns up the fight and flight response, causes organ pain, and can even cause constipation, headaches, and diarrhea.”
Vagal withdrawal aside, what makes love such a dangerous disease is that it can shorten your life. While being in a secure, stable, and committed relationship prolongs life, becoming romantically attached to the wrong person, suffering through breakups, and experiencing the heartache that so often comes with love can shorten your life.
Many studies show that people in bad relationships (usually characterized by constant stress, lack of emotional support, infidelity etc.) are at higher risk of experiencing heart problems and early death.2 So if the psychological agony and physiological pain of a relationship gone bad are not enough to keep you single this Valentine’s Day, perhaps the possibility of a Cupid-sponsored death is a good motivator.
Of course, Dr. Davis and Dr. Gevirtz, along with many of their distinguished colleagues at CSPP, and marriage and family therapy graduate programs or MFT schools across the country dedicate their lives to helping couples and families work through their problems, and their patients clearly believe that love is worth fighting for.
As Dr. Davis explains, “Love is a paradoxical disease. When you get sick, say with a cold, you fight through it and come through the other side with a stronger immune system. Love is a disease that you have to be willing to develop, in order to experience the greatness of the other side.”
While the other side may be filled with the ethereal joy of a loving and stable relationship, the question ends up being: With the possibility of organ pain, heart problems, dependency, and compromised judgement and priorities...is love worth it? Or would you rather celebrate Valentine’s Day as a single, rational, and diarrhea free individual?
Cielo Villasenor is Alliant University’s communications manager. She is happily single and will be spending a very peaceful valentine’s day at her favorite Ramona vineyard.
For more information on the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant University visit https://www.alliant.edu/schools/cspp
- “What Falling in Love Does to Your Heart and Brain,” ScienceDaily (ScienceDaily), accessed November 19, 2021, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140206155244.htm.
- PhD Roberto De Vogli, “Negative Aspects of Close Relationships and Heart Disease,” Archives of Internal Medicine (JAMA Network), accessed November 19, 2021, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/413183.