Aspects of love and romantic reflections

To mark the approach of Valentine's Day, Jerry Hall asked some of her famous friends to share their thoughts about different kinds of love, from the romantic to the spiritual. Their answers make remarkably heart-warming reading
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I still believe in love – against all the odds. I don't believe those people who say all our troubles started with Jane Eyre and unrealistic expectations of romantic love; or that the European take on love is just a way of passing on the farm to the children while having a few mistresses on the side; or that love doesn't last more than a year or two. I think love should be celebrated.

When I researched my Radio 2 programme Aspects of Love, I spoke to neuroscientists who told me that love was addictive. Babies can feel their mother's love for them, even in the womb.

Artists, whether they are musicians, painters or actors, are able to express their deep feelings of love – but too often they can only articulate these for the benefit of their audience. Often people who are great at expressing love in their work cannot do it their own life – especially men, who can have trouble expressing intimacy. Rock stars are the worst offenders: they like to talk through their music.

Women are more expressive and want to fix things. They are good at making peace. Men are hunters – they want to get things done.

The way to make a relationship work is by showing good manners to your lover; and the other really important thing is for each partner to retain some sense of mystery about them. Rule one: you should never discuss your digestive problems – that is very important, because it can be a terrible turn off.

A lot of the women I spoke to told me they were looking for someone like their father. Sometimes this can cause a repetition of unhealthy patterns. I have always gone for the bad ones – I make a beeline for them.

But I am hopeful about love, and I adore Valentine's Day. What I'd really like a man to give me this year are some rubies. But I'm not really all that hopeful about that.

Anjelica Huston: Romantic love

The best kind of love is where you keep on discovering something new, interesting and mysterious about the other person.

The measure of one's love should be implicit in the other person's eyes. More often that's not the case: often passionate relationships burn very hard and very fast and then they sort of fizzle out and there's nothing left.

I think the love of my friends is as valuable to me as any other kind of love because it has to do with mutuality. In a way, platonic love is the most important love of all because it's the purest love.

But I totally want to get flowers for Valentine's Day. Love should be celebrated every day. You need to exercise your love.

Annie Lennox: maternal love

Having children definitely opened up a whole new realm for me in terms of love: a selfless love, and I started to understand it better. Motherhood is an immense experience for any woman and for the father too. You are stepping into the unknown and there's no guarantee what's going to happen. Once you know what it feels like to love a child, how can you not feel that way for all children?

Dr Miriam Stoppard: maternal love

There are hormones like oxytocin and prolactin which are love hormones. And those love hormones feed in to the reward centres and make a woman feel calm, loved and secure, and of course the hormones that she's producing herself cross the placenta to the baby and so the baby is bathed in these love hormones.

And the wonderful thing about these hormones is that they direct the baby's brain to grow in a certain way, which makes the baby feel calm and gives the baby the ability to calm itself and so the brain develops in this very protected way.

This all happens within the womb and the first few months after birth, and that's one of the reasons why mother love is so crucial. It's essential to the survival of the human race and it's a very natural part of our evolution.

Deepak Chopra: spiritual love

Romantic love is frequently an introduction to the exaltation and joy and spirit. When we fall in love romantically; we feel vulnerable, we feel helpless, we are spontaneous, we feel a sense of wonder. We give up the need to pay attention to trivial and mundane things: they don't bother us any more, and we are exposed and we feel a sense of timelessness.

So if somebody says "I don't know what a spiritual experience is", the answer is: if you have ever fallen in love romantically, then that is a spiritual experience.

Susan Greenfield: love as a drug

Love is something that fascinates me, because being in love is so bound up with the brain. We know that when people meet others to whom they are attracted the first thing that happens is that there is a release of a chemical which is a little bit like the drug amphetamine – speed. It arouses and excites.

That's followed by noradrenalin and adrenalin, which are the chemicals of "flight or fight". Other chemicals that kick in are the encephalons, which are naturally occurring morphine which gives you a dreamlike euphoria – so really there is no hope for you when cupid strikes.

Next are pheromones, chemicals that sneak into your brain through your nose, although you are not aware of them. And that is followed by a chemical called oxytocin, which some people think is the "love drug", which gives you that warm bonding glow.

Falling in love is a very special phenomenon, which often leads to an unrequited end. It's not automatic that there will be copulating, as with other species.

Alain de Botton: modern love

One of the things that happened in the modern age was that suddenly people decided that romantic love could be put together with marriage, so the sort of feeling people always had around a lover, an intense romantic passion they thought might last a few months, you could stick that together with what people had always followed which was to get married.

And marriage used to be about "handing on the farm" to the next generation and suddenly it was thought you could have the farm and this great intense romantic relationship. You no longer needed what the aristocracy had suggested you always needed, which was a wife and a mistress, or the other way around if you were a woman. This idea that you can have romantic passion and the practical benefits of keeping a household together – modern society has fallen for this idea and it's making us miserable.

I think you can blame the modern world for playing down the dark aspects of life and playing up a sentimental vision where love is always about being kind to people – which denies the fact that a lot of love is about humiliation and trying to control people.

I think a very useful philosophical manoeuvre might be to recognise that this thing we call a "happy relationship" is not normal. It's rather like a lightning strike. It's likely to strike one in maybe 200 people. So we have elevated to a status of normal a feeling of happiness and long-term contentment which is going to be the lot of very few people.

The idea we have of romantic love is very, very rare. There are as many happy couples as there are great writers, amazing scientists, beautiful people, talented designers – ie, not very many.

We've got a population on the planet of billions and there are not very many great and happy love stories out there, when it comes to the real pinnacles of achievement. And I think love is an achievement: it's not something that befalls many people.

Tracey Emin: unrequited love

Unrequited love is something that as I'm getting older I'm getting quite worried about. I have too much of it. I think when you are younger this is OK, because you have plenty of time for love. But as you get older it's almost sad that you spend so much time romanticising and daydreaming about love and not actually making love. There is nothing better than making love with someone when it works, when it's really fantastic and it just melts and you disappear in to someone and you come out the other side. It is like going through another plane or dimension – it's really spiritual, and there isn't enough of that.

I've got to the point now where I'd rather not bother. I just dream about it all the time.

Bryan Adams: love songs

Some of the best love songs were always the simplest statements. And sometimes it wasn't so much what the words were – because we all know that with love songs everything has been said 100 times – but the combination of the words and the way it was said. A song that comes to mind was Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful", because he had a way of saying the most simple thing, but in a way that tore your heart out. I've always based my songwriting around the same ethic, which is to keep it really simple.

All the chords are there; you just have to put them together in a sequence that captures something. It's intangible completely – like love.

Dave Stewart: love songs

People connect to the actual feeling of the music when you get it right. Sometimes they can't even remember what the words are, they just feel the vibration of the music. And there are certain moments when key words trigger something: it can be just one or two words and you can see the effect on people's faces as you are playing it. Often they've forgotten where they are and forgotten to put on that sort of face that people put on when they are out in the street and they let their mouth fall open and they let their eyes go wider and they get lost in the whole atmosphere of the thing. Music is one of the few times when that happens – they forget themselves for a moment, which is the same thing as an orgasm. For a few seconds you forget who you are, where you are and what's happening.

Aspects Of Love will be broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on Thursday, 14 February, 10-11pm

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