Love hurts

Is there any pain like the pain that strikes when a lover rejects you? Now new research confirms that this pain is not only emotional but also has physical roots.

The wise philosopher Jim Capaldi sang, “Love hurts, love scars, love wounds, and mars.” In one of the great lyrical similes he went on to elucidate that “love is like a stove, it burns you when it’s hot”. Several decades after the release of Capaldi’s hit song, researchers have confirmed that he was right; love, or at least un-requited love, can hurt you on a real physical level.

For the research the researchers found a group of New Yorkers who admitted to feeling “intensely rejected” by a lover at the time. The subjects were asked to look at photographs including some of their friends while thinking positive thoughts about them. They were also asked to look at photographs of their ex-lovers and were asked to think about their lovers. Finally, they were subjected to pain by exposing their forearm to heat equivalent to an extremely hot cup of coffee. While all of these things were happening the brains of the participants were scanned for any changes in activity.

The results showed that largely the same areas of the brain became active when the subjects viewed their ex-lover or experienced the heat on their forearm. So emotional pain resulting from rejection is experienced much the same as physical pain.

If someone tells you that they are really “hurting” over a breakup, don’t trivialise it. The pain is real and it lasts much longer than most physical pain.

In all then Capaldi was spot on but perhaps did not go far enough with his imagery. Yes, love gets hot and burns you just like a stove. Let’s take it a step further though, love is like a stove; don’t put your hand on anything when it’s red, clean the surfaces regularly, have a look inside occasionally, and don’t leave things in there too long or you’ll get burnt.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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