Fear no longer. Science has stepped in to help.
It's been known for some time that the brain's chemistry changes profoundly when you fall in love. Levels of two neurotransmitters, dopamine and oxytocin, make dramatic surges; the latter is sometimes called the "cuddle hormone" because it is released in large quantities when you kiss, snuggle, or have sex. The whole thing seems to prime us for pair bonding. But how do we know if our brain is fixating on the right person?
Allow me to introduce you to BrainDesire. This site claims, by a simple test, to be able to tell you if the person you're considering is the right one for you. The idea is that your brain's detection of emotional content in verbal information will change how that verbal information is perceived -- and measuring that perception can give an important clue as to how powerful the emotional content is. In practice, what BrainDesire does is to flash the name of a potential partner at you, and then a group of letters. Your task is to click the left arrow key if it's an English word, and the right arrow key if it's nonsense.
Intrigued, I took the test, using my wife's name. I noticed that a lot of the words were ones associated with romance; "passion," "kiss," "love," "intimacy." A few seemed random (like "shop" -- although that one elicits in me feelings of anxiety). After clicking through about a hundred words and non-words, I got the following result:
At this moment in time, Carol hasn’t left a mark on your brain that is significant enough to be detected here and reported as an absolute intensity. It can however be compared with someone else’s mark on your brain, thereby offering you insight for choosing the right partner. For instance, the test could reveal that although Carol’s lasting mark on your brain is too mild for being reliably quantified yet, it is already double as intense as someone else’s mark on your brain.So, I decided to compare my response from Carol's name to that from my ex-wife's.
Now, without going into unpleasant details that my reading public probably does not want to know in any case, my relationship with my ex-wife was not a good one. It was, to put not too fine a point on it, sixteen years that I would be extremely reluctant to repeat. So I did the test with the two names...
... and BrainDesire still couldn't detect a difference.
Me, I'm becoming skeptical. Either my ability to tell the difference between English words and phonetic blobs like "psourghed" isn't what it should be, or else the test doesn't work on me. Because if this thing can't tell the difference between two people, one of whom I am happily married to and the other of whom is a major contributory factor to my being on high blood pressure medication, then I think that the test is patent horse waste.
This, of course, is just my experience with it, and hardly qualifies as a rigorous scientific test. And maybe I should have had a cup of coffee between trying to tell the difference between "passion" and "thnirks;" heaven knows that I need caffeine infusions to do anything even moderately useful in the morning. But I think that if you want to figure out which of your two current romantic interests is The One, you're going to have to get the information a different way other than BrainDesire. Given my results, it seems like tossing a coin might be an equally accurate way to proceed.