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When would you take a love control pill?

Mar 3, 2010 • Karen

And my head told my heart, "Let love grow"

And my heart told my head, "This time, no"

--Mumford & Sons, "Winter Winds"

There was a New York Times article a year or so ago explaining recent scientific findings in the neurochemistry of love. By manipulating oxytocin receptors in the brains of female voles, scientists could make them pair bond for life—or be completely impervious to pair bonding. The article stuck in my head because the author was so interested in the latter finding, more so than the first. I found that odd. Our myths and stories are full of love potions. I couldn't think of a single myth that featured a love vaccine. Yet it was that was what the author found interesting. That was what he wanted scientists to produce someday.

(I think this was the article.)

At the time, I couldn't imagine why someone would want to give themselves a vaccine against love. It struck me as self-denying and unnatural as the company that erases memories in The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But now I wonder if the proper analogy would be to birth control—you're deliberately, temporarily hindering a biological function until one is in a place in life when it makes sense to use that function.

So let's assume that scientists were able to create a pill that could prevent romantic love in humans for as long as it was taken, like birth control pills. Let us also assume that it can isolate romantic bonding without affecting bonds of friendship or family—a non-trivial feat, but one I'll assume possible for the sake of the question.

Would you consider taking the love control pill? Under what circumstances would you rationally consider romantic entanglements to be too complicated to be worth it? While employed as a dancer or sex worker? While studying for the bar? On tour with the band? During military service? During college? How about high school? Until your chosen career was solidly underway?

What are the things that you can get from romantic partners but not from friends and family? This list varies person-to-person, depending on both what they expect from romantic partners and what their circle of friends is capable of.

At what point in your life do you expect that list of things to be appropriate, useful, or necessary?