[Apparently, humans are just a bunch of prairie voles| Source]
Think back to a time when you have been separated from your partner, be it a short period of time or an extended one. I know the majority of MLBW readers are in a similar boat, but what about the ones who aren’t?
Well meaning friends, family and colleagues say to us, “Oh, X amount if time isn’t too bad!” With a look of condolence on their sympathetic faces.
Those in the boat really appreciate their efforts. It means a lot that they want to make us feel better, and the time we spend with them helps more than they realize.
Of course, there is a but.
The truth is that sometimes it really does feel that bad. Because it’s the precursor of many years to come. And no matter how many times you do it, it doesn’t get easier. Somehow, it gets harder.
My fellow band “wife,” Megan, wrote about this phenomenon for the blog back in December. You start to get into these routines, doing things by yourself and then there is this disconnect. Even if you text all the time and talk on the phone once a day, there is something lacking. And you can’t quite put your finger on it. It just goes to show that no matter how advanced technology gets, there isn’t a substitute for actually being in the company of the people you love the most.
Of course, there is a scientific reason for it getting harder.
This piece in Scientific American, regardless of the fact that it is three years old and compares human relationships to the relationship between prairie voles, details scientific evidence that “long-term separation from a romantic partner can lead to increased anxiety and depression, as well as such problems as sleep disturbances.”
“Social psychologist Lisa Diamond of the University of Utah observed minor withdrawal-like symptoms, such as irritability and sleep disturbances, along with an increase in cortisol in subjects after they were separated four to seven days. Participants who reported high anxiety about their relationships had the biggest spikes in cortisol levels, but even those who reported low levels of stress and anxiety during the separation exhibited some degree of increased cortisol and physical discomfort. These results, like those from Young’s study, indicate a specific link between separation and increased cortisol, implying cortisol-blocking drugs may benefit people struggling to cope with partner separation, too.”
It is believed that the romantic bond evolved from the parent-child bond and could be why we feel romantic attachments so strongly. According to the article, the same neurochemicals—oxytocin, vasopressin and dopamine—have been implicated in both relationships, and the behavioral patterns associated with parental and romantic bond formation and separation are also similar. Of course Diamond does say that the two relationships are fundamentally different (we would hope so) but it’s the same functional purpose:
“Creating a psychological drive to be near the other person, to want to take care of them, and being resistant to being separated from them.”
So, band wives, rest assured that when in a committed relationship with a man on the road (which, by the way, humans are wired for commitment), it really isn’t that unusual to, well, be taken by the blues.
Just make sure you’re not hitting your lower limit switch and misdirecting your emotions.