I think one of my favorite pictures regarding love and romance is this one:
“What is love?” “A neurochemical con job.”
Because this child can’t be more than eight, and they’ve hit the idea right on the nose. Love is something that we as humans have evolved into finding mutually beneficial, especially in this time of the necessity of two-income households. Our own human biology cons us into finding the way a person smiles and the weird half-laugh they do at dumb jokes on Twitter worthy of our affection and time. Humans are essentially useless when they’re born. As a way to compensate, evolution gave humans oxytocin, the hormone that makes us feel bonded with other people. It starts out when our mothers bond with us as babies, or as children.
And then we chase that feeling forever. Humans are social. We – generally – like being around other humans. At the very least, we all need some human contact. So our own biology goes “here, have some oxytocin” when we’re around people we like. And that makes us like them more. And then romance comes in. That fuzzy feeling? It’s just hormones.
There are also the benefits of being in a relationship in the modern world, like shared costs for the Netflix subscription. Or for budgeting for the future because you’re unsure about whether or not grad school will have enough return on investment to go. In an age of dating apps and OKCupid quizzes, it’s hard to find the romance sometimes. It isn’t all milkshakes and going steady. A lot of romance is having real conversations about the future.
“If you were never financially stable enough, would either of you be okay with not having children?”
“Do you even want children at all?”
“Do you have any debt, student or otherwise?”
In this new generation reaching adulthood, these questions are more like small talk on a first date rather than questions you ask after you’ve been together for five years and already own a dog.
But that hormone remains. Humans like and need other humans, and not just for their various accounts to watch TV. Companionship is a part of the human experience. Even when the questions we have to ask each other get harder, it isn’t impossible.
We can find love in a hopeless place.
If Rihanna says we can, I believe her.