My love is like... an avenging sitting hen

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The Independent Online

Did the Royal Mail divert all the sacks full of Valentine's cards that were sent to you on Friday and redirect them instead to flood-hit areas to be used as makeshift sandbags? Did you receive lots of emails with saucy subject lines which revealed themselves to be romantic pizza-for-two offers from Domino's? Did you battle your way back from work on public transport, buffeted about the head by try-hard couples and competitively large bouquets of imported roses? Or were you one of the lucky ones: did you come home to find your beloved entirely covered in wilting rose petals and brandishing a gift recommended in a "last minute Valentine's" feature? Was it soap? Bad luck.

Never mind! The good news is, according to the latest issue of New Scientist, a cure for love may be just around the corner. It's a shame that it couldn't have been in chemists in time for all the normal people to get a seat in the pub on Friday night, unmolested by red balloons, oysters and the most depressing words since "and now, here's the weather": "glass of prosecco on arrival". But you can't rush science. And it turns out that love is a three-pronged disease: it gets you with lust first, then attraction, then, finally, attachment.

According to the experts, there are drugs already on the market which could help against all of these afflictions. Serotonin regulators to treat OCD might alleviate those first, obsessive symptoms of lust. Drugs that block oxytocin have been shown to turn devoted female prairie voles into rampant polygamists. Likewise, blocking a hormone called corticotropin-releasing factor prevented the voles from acting depressed when they lost a partner. Combine all this with exercise and body contact (just rub up against some of those couples on public transport, they won't notice one extra grope) to make the body produce dopamine, and you're cured. Sadly, New Scientist also explains the "ethical" issues that stop us selling anti-love drugs. Damn. Back to the drawing board.

Until such time as a cure for love can be marketed morally, we might have to use those broken hearts to make our fortunes by writing some bestselling romantic fiction instead. I'm told by the new "digital-first" publishing imprint Piatkus Entice that "the hottest new emerging romance trends [for 2014] are … motorbike gangs and Mafia stories" – an improvement on last year's "dinosaur erotica", I suppose. Lots of people think that it must be easy to bash out a bestselling romantic novel loosely based on their own life ("He lay on the bed, completely naked apart from rose petals. Gruffly, he handed me a hastily wrapped scented candle …") but a newly discovered book of "outtakes" found in a Mills & Boon archive proves that it is not.

Budding authors should remember: there is never any room in sex scenes for pineapples, fried eggs or coming "out of the bedroom like an avenging sitting hen". Though that would be a Valentine's Night menu worth getting a date for. Anyone for sitting hen and oysters this time next year?