Faces of the U: Love doctor

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

L-O-V-E: four simple letters that have captivated the minds and hearts of romantics and the hopeless for centuries.

Where does it come from?

Can it be found at first sight?

Can it be found after it has been lost?

Lisa Diamond knows the answers. After all, she’s the scientist of love.

She has taught people how to love for more than five years, teaching relationship, gender and psychology of love classes at the U, where she covers the origins and meanings of love.

“Love is a basic human need,” Diamond said. “It’s as basic as eating or sleeping.”

Love, she said, is an attachment that comes from the bond found in a mother-child relationship. When that child becomes an adult, he or she seeks that same bond from a romantic partner.

“It’s the same brain system,” she said. “Think of all the songs out there where everyone calls each other ‘baby.’ It’s an attachment system that transfers from infant to adult.”

Diamond’s fascination with love began at an early age. When she was a pre-teen in her native Los Angeles, she had a thing for love stories and for writing romantic poetry.

Her father, however, wanted he to become a researcher, being a cardiovascular disease researcher himself.

And even though she became a professor in psychology, Diamond finds it ironic that research is still a large part of her life.

“Back then, though, I didn’t know it was possible to study the science of love,” she said. “It’s a great notion that science can be applied to something so juicy and compelling.”

Her research focuses around the attachment in relationships between romantic partners and family members.

So is there such thing as love at first sight? Diamond said she believes it’s more like infatuation at first sight.

“It’s just an intense feeling of longing that happens suddenly,” she said. “It feels great, but it doesn’t last.”

So once the infatuation disappears, what is the best way to get over someone? Time and distance, Diamond said. According to the attachment theory, in order to “get over someone,” one needs to spark a new attachment.

“There’s a negative stereotype with rebounds where people think they should not start dating until they are OK being alone,” she said. “But that’s like saying you won’t eat again until you are comfortable starving.”

Diamond, however, has not had to get over anyone for several years. She has been married to her partner, Judy Hilman, for the last four years. They met during their first week of graduate school at Cornell University.

They both love to cook and throw dinner parties for their friends during every Oscar ceremony, and their favorite movie is “Annie Hall.”

Love, she said, is no different in gay and straight relationships.

Tonight, however, the scientist of love will not be celebrating Valentine’s Day; she has to fly out of state to review grants.

“There are so many other ways to make your true love feel valued, though,” she said. “A nice dinner or conversation–that’s all it takes.”

Jeremy Bigelow

Psychology professor Lisa Diamond lectures graduate students enrolled in “Relationships and Health over the Life Span” last Thursday.

Jeremy Bigelow

Diamond discusses “New directions on the science of love” at a Psi Chi intellectual activity in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Building yesterday afternoon. Psi Chi is the national honor society of psychology.