Love: Fact or Fiction?

By Mara Shapiro

Vickie Frueh’sCH favorite physical trait of her boyfriend is his eyes. After being together for the past 19 months, the freshman in LAS said she was initially drawn to him because of his protective manner and sweet disposition.

“Freshman year of high school, he was basically obsessed with me and wrote, ‘I love you’ on all my papers for biology,” Frueh said.

Now, Frueh described herself as being “110 percent in love” with her boyfriend and remembers the first time she realized she felt that way for him.

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“I remember the moment I realized; we were in English class, and we were doing some activity with superheroes, and he was fighting for his side of why whatever his superhero was better,” she said. “I had no control but to smile and just feel overwhelmed with passion for this one person. Honestly, there’s like tickles in your heart, more like your heart is so heavy, and it’ll beat faster than usual … it’s such a strong feeling.”

Becca Schuessler, sophomore in LAS, describes herself as being in love with her current boyfriend before even dating him. She was drawn to his sense of humor and the way he came across as a genuinely nice person.

“I kept telling all my friends that I couldn’t believe it because we hadn’t been romantic for very long, but I already felt like I was in love with him. Luckily, he felt the same way,” Schuessler said.

Now dating for 10 months, Schuessler identifies her favorite physical attributes of her boyfriend to be his eyes, smile and hair. She describes being in love as a combination of physical and emotional feelings.

“Thinking about him makes me feel this warmth in my chest, and I still get butterflies when I see him. But love is also knowing that someone truly cares about you and is there for you,” she said.

Along with Schuessler and Frueh, Meghan Smith, junior in LAS, is in a long-term relationship after dating her boyfriend for seven months. He struck up a conversation with her when they were both taking a summer physics course, and she was impressed by his confidence and easy-going nature. The feature she likes most on him is his smile.

She knew she was in love with him when she saw a picture of him on her Facebook wall, and she describes his love as “comforting.”

“One of his friends posted a throwback picture on his wall, and it was a picture of him, and he is 6-foot-2, probably 230 pounds: Big dude. He’s riding a small mechanical school bus meant for toddlers, his knees up to his ears, and he’s smiling like a complete goofball. I saw that picture and I was like, ‘I love this man,’” Smith said.

Yet for Schuessler, attraction and love go hand in hand.

“Physical attraction is a big part of any romantic relationship. Obviously there are other important factors, but biology plays a role,” Schuessler said.

While all three of these women possess strong feelings for their boyfriends, there is another aspect of attraction that is not always based on feelings. A 2015 article in TIME suggests that there is a science behind who we choose to be romantically involved with.CH

Almost all organisms secrete a scent called pheromones that can attract a mate.

Todd Johnson, CHgraduate student in entomology, even sees it in insects. Through various laboratory and field studies, Johnson has studied how beetles secrete pheromones.

“Pheromones are an efficient and effective way to advertise your presence,” Johnson said.

While humans are not insects, various studies such as a sweat test, where people smell the sweat of a potential partner on a T-shirt, have shown that there may be an underlying biological factor behind who we choose to date.

Johnson said beetles emit pheromones as a quick way to find a mate as they usually have a very short lifespan, whereas humans have much more time to seek out a partner.

“Different people have different odors. What you eat affects your odor as it shows your nutritional status. Female beetles won’t choose a male who has not been fed as they are not suitable enough to make eggs,” he said.

Some try to find partners who have the same life goals as them. Johnson explained that a hardcore liberal Democrat would probably not want to date someone who supports Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump.

But the science behind love raises questions for Johnson: Does it really exist?

“Do we have free will? Some people say we always have the ability to choose. I used to think that way, but I now believe more in semi-compatibility, that there are some things that are innate within us,” Johnson said. “People choose partners based on values, political beliefs, religion and music, but could we maybe smell someone’s taste in music? Do Republicans smell differently than Democrats? Insects use pheromones to mate, and ultimately, most people want to have a life partner to mate with.”

Schuessler, Smith and Frueh all think that pheromones contribute to their relationships in some way.

Smith said she has heard the rumors about the scientific aspect behind love.

“From what I’ve read, pheromones by definition are only for animals. But I’ve heard the studies you can smell the difference in immunity for humans. I can buy into the idea that there is a smell there,” Smith said.

Frueh definitely believes the smell of her boyfriend affects her feelings.

“When I’m stressed or upset, it can automatically calm me down. Even though we’re at different schools and can’t say we’re together always, having a scent just adds another level of security,” she said.

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