"We Can't Live Without Love": When Dr. Love Met Dr. Lonely (2023)

CLose both eyes for three secondsPhD. Stephanie CacioppoHe guides me at the beginning of our conversation. You may want to do the same at home, on the train, or wherever. Now think about the person you love most in the world. do i have them Remember when was the last time you made them laugh? one two three. "Does that put a smile on your face?" asks Cacioppo, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago who specializes in the effects of love on the brain and author of a new book,connect for love

yes. "It's always worked," she continued. "It's because this wonderful wiring in our brain activates not only the love network, but also the mirror neuron system. When you move, and when you predict or think about other people's actions or emotions, the nervous system goes activated. So imagining someone smiling is like activating your own smile."

PhD. Cacioppo said the exercise could be beneficial for astronauts who may be separated from loved ones on the space station for months. It might also come in handy, for example, during a global pandemic that keeps us at home for the better part of two years. But the memory game has a personal resonance for Caciopo, a 47-year-old with a wide smile and wavy platinum-blonde hair. In March 2018, her partner,Dr John CacioppoSocial neuroscientist who pioneered loneliness research dies suddenly at 66

In a way, their relationship is unlikely: not least because it brings together two experts dubbed "Dr. Love" and "Dr. Lonely" by the press. She was in her 30s and he was in his 50s when they met in January 2011 at a neuroscience research seminar in Shanghai. Both insisted they were not looking for a partner. But within a year, they were married and inseparable. They worked at the same desk and shared an office at the University of Chicago, with "The Cacioppos" just outside the door. Their research runs in diametrically opposite directions, but both firmly believe that the human need for social connection is as crucial to a person's well-being as clean water, nutritious food or exercise.

So when Stephanie Caciopo closed her eyes, she saw John. "Love is a biological need. We cannot live without it," she said. "It's hard to say for someone who has lost their best friend, soul mate, and love of their life. But I realized that love doesn't have to be with the person you're with. As we mentioned with our astronauts Yes, we can fall in love with someone even if they live far away from you. Or even if they die; we've lost a lot of people during this pandemic and I think a lot of people can relate to that.

"One of the keys to keeping John's love alive is actually realizing that he's gone and facing the pain of his physical departure," Cacioppo continued. "When I let him go, when I was actually facing that pain, I saw him everywhere, all around me. I could feel his love in different ways and I still feel it everywhere To his love. That's great for me, and I hope it encourages people to feel connected, not alone."

Wired for Love: A Neuroscientist's Journey into Romance, Loss, and the Nature of RelationshipsThis is not the book Caciopo expected to write. She has spent her life trying to prove that love is a subject worthy of scientific study (an idea that has been strongly condemned by other researchers as a primal urge, almost an addiction). Her work is based on evidence: she conductsEEG(electroencephalogram) tests monitor the electrical signals produced by the brain, and functional MRI scans distinguish love from lust. Understanding love is science, not stories, or oh my god, poetry.

According to Cacioppo, this is an important moment for an in-depth analysis of love. By several parameters, people seem to be feeling less loved and more alone than ever before. Marriage rates for heterosexual couples in the UK have been falling steadily since the 1970s. In 2018, the ONS reported that this was the lowest level on record. Despite the proliferation of dating apps, it seems like we're having less sex than ever. In 2018, nearly a quarter of Americans (again a record) said they hadn't had sex in the previous year. Factors believed to be contributing to this "sexual drought" include smartphones, the gig economy, open-plan offices (perhaps counterintuitively) and more people living in cities.

But as Cacioppo began working on her serious science book, details of her relationship with John continued to emerge. As she wrote them, she came to realize that, even to her closest friends, she had never told them most of what had happened during their seven-year relationship. "It was really painful to share the story," she said, "because it really went against my nature. I'm a shy, introverted person, but I felt like getting over my shyness and sharing my story and the science behind it with readers It’s a calling for me. We hope it will not only help people appreciate the beauty and essence of relationships, but also help people find love and keep love in their own lives.”

a strange factRomantic love was elusive to Dr. Love most of his life. Stephanie Ortigue grew up in the French Alps on the outskirts of Chambéry, the only child of passionate French-Italian parents who set the bar high for what a relationship should look and feel like standard. In order not to feel like a gooseberry, she threw herself first into tennis and then into science.

"I don't understand why I was born an only child," said Cacioppo, who now lives in Oregon with her dog, a Shar Pei named Basio, in a house near the woods. "I thought this was my destiny: I was born alone and I will die alone. Typical romance, French drama. Above all, my dear Italian grandmother told me to dress up every day, just in case This is the last day of our lives. Therefore, my attitude is: I live as if I will die tomorrow; I enjoy life as if I will live forever.

"Most importantly, my parents showed this wonderful, perfect relationship that seemed out of reach. But it was inspiring and I love challenges. So I don't take the impossible as the answer , I've always thought that maybe one day..."

Cacioppo, who had no formal boyfriends during her teenage years or college years, threw herself into research in her twenties, first at Geneva University Hospital and then at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. One of her early discoveries was that romantic love seemed to activate 12 specific areas of the brain. Some of this is no surprise: Caciopo is expected to trigger the so-called "emotional" brain and the dopamine-hungry "reward" system. Unexpectedly, unlike friendship or maternal love, passionate love also triggers some of the most complex higher-order regions of the brain. One of them in particular: the angular gyrus.

The angular gyrus sits behind the ear and developed relatively recently in our evolutionary history (only monkeys and humans have it). It's often associated with abstract thought and language; pictures of Einstein's brain show that the region is unusually large. For Cacioppo, the discovery proves that "love plays a more complex role in the brain than anyone could reasonably imagine". Her research also shows that while we may believe that the way we experience love is unique, what happens on a biological level is pretty much the same for all of us. Cacioppo writes in the book: "No matter where you were born, whether you are gay or straight, male, female or transgender, if one person or a few people are important to you, they can Equally important ways to illuminate this network."Wired for love.

It was a revolutionary work, but for Caciopo personally, love remained a theoretical concept. That changed at a conference in Shanghai in 2011. She's a firm believer in "love at first sight," and has scientific research to back it up: Direct eye contact has been shown to trigger activity in a key area, the angular gyrus. . “I felt very fulfilled in a way,” recalls Caciopo. "Honestly, I thought I was happy until I met my husband and he literally proved me wrong! I'm happier than ever with him."

At first, twice-married John Cacioppo was the more cautious of the couple. Stephanie sent the following message after her first meeting in Geneva with her in Chicago. "I've always been a very independent woman, but, yes, I sent that email," she said. "I'm really glad I did. Because his prefrontal cortex — what I call the 'parent in the brain' — is more dominant than his intuition or the part of his psyche that feels like a heart. So I don't Trust him to send an email."

The relationship between the Cachops developed quickly, and in many ways they felt blessed by science. Stephanie's research shows that being in love has significant mental and physical benefits: Instead of being distracted, people in love benefit from explosive activity in the angular gyrus and can be more creative and motivated . Similarly, data from one of John's studies found that chronic loneliness increases the odds of an early death by 20 percent. This has roughly the same effect as obesity - "Though obesity doesn't make you miserable like loneliness", John CaciopoHe saidobserver2016.

"We joked that Dr. Lonely met Dr. Love, but the title didn't really play a role in our relationship," she said. "But our science has really become part of our lives: we try to apply our science to everyday life to ensure that Dr. Love and Dr. Lonely have lasting love and a happy life."

Their relationship is not simple. In 2015, John was diagnosed with a rare form of salivary gland cancer; he had to undergo aggressive chemotherapy and radiation and be fed through a tube for months. But he is recovering well enough to resume normal teaching. His appetite returned, and he revived his tired body with his daily exercise routine. Eventually, doctors told him he had "turned the corner", but he started coughing violently shortly after. The cancer had spread to his lungs.

Uconnect for loveIn "Caccioppo," Cacioppo doesn't let go of how her husband's death affects her: she's devastated, unsure if a "meaningful life" is still possible. Today, she's still decidedly raw, but provocative. "When you go through all these emotions like I do, you feel like you're the passenger of your life, not the driver of your life," she says. "It's really disturbing in a way because you don't really know what's going on.

"But I'm the living proof of my science; part of the reason I'm alive is because of that," Caciopo continued. “So I wanted to share with my readers; I wanted to share this experience and all the tips and tricks of the mind. And help them understand how the brain works so they can regain control of their brain and feel like they have control over their emotions , rather than being a victim of emotion."

The first phase of Caciopo's recovery was exercise. She runs six miles a day (a 20-minute walk a day helps, too) and realizes that she's happiest when she's helping others. "Losing my husband took a big toll on me mentally," she said. "I really understand what's important in life - but that's not me. I used to be an only child, always spoiled and the center of attention, at least for my Italian grandmother. But now I see It's very humbling to know that someone is greater than me."

One of the great challenges facing our society is addressing loneliness, Cacioppo said. This is a dangerous question, but there are strategies that can help. "The worst thing you can do to a lonely person is try to help someoneWell,", she states in the bookconnect for love. "If you know someone who is lonely, ask them to help yougas. Showing respect, relying on you, knowing your own importance—all of these can give the lonely person a sense of worth and belonging. "

Even the simple exercises we did at the beginning of this article can reduce feelings of isolation. "Understanding that our brains are our best friends and that we can really connect with others through the power of our thoughts, just by imagining them with us right now, will also help people feel less alone," Cacioppo said. "

As for what's next for Cacioppo, personally or professionally, she's not sure. "I'll talk to my dog ​​and see what she thinks about it," she says with a giggle. But then she got serious. "If there's a message in my story, it's not from me, but from Maya Angelou, who beautifully wrote: 'Have the courage to believe in love again, and always again.'"

Wired for Love by Dr Stephanie Cacioppo is published by Little, Brown, £20 or atGuardian Bookstore£17.40


What does it mean when a guy says I can't live without you? ›

Most people saying the “I can't live without you” statement probably are just trying to emphasize how much they feel love for someone. They, therefore, are not to be taken as speaking literal truth. They might be saying it lightheartedly or just because it seems like the romantic thing to say.

What is it called when you can't live without someone? ›

Dependent personality disorder usually starts during childhood or by the age of 29. People with DPD have an overwhelming need to have others take care of them. Often, a person with DPD relies on people close to them for their emotional or physical needs. Others may describe them as needy or clingy.

Which is more important in life money or love? ›

'You can earn money but never love. ' It's one of the main reasons why love stands above everything else in the world. It is the only emotion that has the power to be eternal, whereas money is just temporary happiness. You may buy things, travel anywhere, be powerful but you can never buy love.

How do you tell a woman you can't live without her? ›

Romantic “I Can't Live Without You” Messages

I will always be there for you because I cannot live without you. Since you entered my life, you have shown me how unconditional your love is. I am prepared to love you until the day I die.

How do you know when a man isn't in love with you? ›

He doesn't say "I love you" anymore. He still says "I love you," but something about it feels hollow or forced, like he's just going through the motions. He doesn't kiss you, hold you, or really touch you at all. His libido has decreased, or he simply no longer initiates sex.

How do you make a man feel he can't live without you? ›

Here's 4 simple ways to maintain the love in your relationship, and to make your man can't live without you in his life!
  1. Look After Your Looks and Health. ...
  2. Give Each Other Personal Space. ...
  3. Always Respect Each Other, Especially in Public. ...
  4. Make Time For Each Other — It's the Little Things That Count.
Jun 20, 2017

How do you know a man is your true love? ›

12 Signs of True Love from a Guy
  • He communicates well. ...
  • He plans to spend time with you. ...
  • He considers your opinions and preferences. ...
  • He does what it takes to spend time with you in person. ...
  • He wants to make your life easier. ...
  • He offers to help. ...
  • He gives you thoughtful gifts. ...
  • He has time for you.
Jun 13, 2023

What happens to a person without love? ›

Specifically, compared to people with less skin hunger, people who feel more affection-deprived: are less happy; more lonely; more likely to experience depression and stress; and, in general, in worse health. They have less social support and lower relationship satisfaction.

Can you love someone but can't live with them? ›

A rising number of people are realizing that loving someone does not equate living with someone. These couples question traditional types of relationships and assumptions about love. They are also coming to acknowledge that what matters is what works for them and not for society in general.

What is the most important thing in a relationship for a man? ›

LOYALTY. Men don't want to expend unnecessary energy worrying about their partner's level of integrity. Relationships are hard enough without these issues. Honesty, trust, and loyalty are the staples of any relationship.

Should you be with someone for love or money? ›

Only you can determine whether love or money should serve as the dominant factor for entering a relationship and while you may ask a family member for advice, the decision is yours to make. Regardless of the decision you make, it can be your comfort level, needs, and priorities that matter most.

What is love in a relationship? ›

A willingness to prioritize another's well-being or happiness above your own. Extreme feelings of attachment, affection, and need. Dramatic, sudden feelings of attraction and respect. A fleeting emotion of care, affection, and like.

When should you let go of a woman? ›

Feeling Unsupported Or Unappreciated

If your partner is not supportive of your goals, doesn't make an effort to see you, or doesn't show up when you need them, it could signify a motive to move on.

How do you know when a woman is not for you? ›

If her habits make you want to scream, she points out your flaws, and she brings you down, she isn't going to help you grow. “If you fight a lot and feel irritable, drained, defensive, and never good enough, she's not for you,” says Swack. The point is to be happy.

How do you stop loving someone you can't live without? ›

How Do You Stop Loving Someone?
  1. Accept Things for What They Are. It's good to be optimistic. ...
  2. Identify Relationship Needs and Deal Breakers. Begin to know yourself better. ...
  3. Accept What Love Meant to You. ...
  4. Look to the Future. ...
  5. Prioritize Other Relationships. ...
  6. Spend Time on Yourself. ...
  7. Replace Your Thoughts. ...
  8. Give Yourself Space.
Feb 18, 2022

How do you respond to I can't live without you? ›

Here are 20 of the best responses you can give to express your gratitude and deepen your connection with them.
  1. 'You'd probably do just fine, but I'm glad I can be here to support you. ...
  2. 'You're capable of handling anything that comes your way, but I'm happy to be a part of your life.

How do you know he doesn't want to lose you? ›

If he makes the effort to show his interest in you, albeit subtly, it is a surefire sign he is afraid of losing you and he cannot imagine his life without you. Whatever the reason may be, if a guy wants to keep you, he will always put in the work.


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