Up Close With Dr. E

A prescription for love potion #9


Winter is here, bringing with it the end of the holiday season. Next comes Valentine’s Day, that familiar tug on your heartstrings, reminds you that the world was not constructed for one. One as in singular, as in you, as in alone.

To change the calculus of one, into two — two people holding hands, two lovers — you’ll need a little help. Help from where? From the world of Science. For the first time, the investigation of romance has produced practical ways to increase your ability to build healthy relationships. Ready to learn about them?

Sit down, take three deep breaths, and prepare yourself. You are about to be given the secret chemical formula — a recipe — for the single most powerful love-producing agent ever known.

Q: “What’s its name?” Love potion #9.

Q: “What does it do?” If taken as directed, Love potion #9 gives you the ability to understand why you have struggled with romantic relationships. It also helps you make better selections, up front, of who you date. Finally, it boosts confidence, so that you can begin to view yourself as being capable of creating, nurturing and keeping a romantic partner for life.

Q: “How do I obtain it?” By reading this column.

Q: “I don’t want to be nosey but, have you taken this potion? If you have, did it help in your own love relationship?” I’ve been married for 37 years and yes, I’ve used the recipe the whole time and yes, it really works.

Q: “Are there side effects, such as hair loss, weight gain or memory loss?” See my hair? It’s still there, and my body is trim. What was the last part of your question?

Q: “Does the potion cause memory loss?” Well, hmmm. Could you repeat that again, please?

All joking aside, here are statements made by a woman named Katrina, 31, which will help illustrate the new view of why romance goes bad.

“I’m unlucky in love. Cursed, perhaps? I’ve been married three times and I’ve gone through a string of bad romances. I’ve seen marriage counselors, and I’ve read a ton of books on relationships. Nothing helped. You see, I’ve got this “loser-magnet,” which draws in men who have problems: alcohol, drugs, sadness, angry, lazy, affairs, you name it, I’ve been through it all. Why me?”

“Why me?” is a belief system Katrina has used all her life, to explain why bad things happen to her. When a romance fails, she answers “Why me” with this: “I’m flawed, unlovable and a loser.”

Why do so many romances end up like Katrina’s? Why do over 50% of all marriages end in divorce? The answers to these questions are not what we have been told: Romances are killed by the big four troubles — in-laws, child-rearing, sex and money. No, No, No, No. Loving relationships are destroyed because decisions are made, and explanations are formulated, by the head, not the heart.

The scientific study of love has now proven that the head (the rational thinking part) is unable to make accurate decisions about love and romance. Your rational mind, now called “Cold IQ,” as measured by IQ tests, predicts success in school, not in relationships. A good example of someone who only uses Cold IQ is Spock in Star Trek.

Katrina needs to use an entirely different IQ, one called “Hot Intelligence.” The language of love can only be spoken by those emotions which “makes one’s blood boil,” namely, Hot. Hot IQ uses emotions as signals, to solve those problems in life which are, Hot: passion, love, desire.

Katrina’s relationships failed because she tried to use Cold IQ, to understand her struggles. For example, her first marriage at 18 was to “get me out of an abusive home.” Her second marriage was “to get me out of an abusive marriage.” Her third, “to have children.” If Katrina had been raised in a non-abusive home, she would have never used marriage to escape the abuse. Sounds clear, right? Well, Katrina never once used this explanation. No, her Cold IQ said, “Since I’m a loser, I will only attract losers.”

Conclusion: As a boy, I’d listen to my mother, discuss with her mother (who lived to be 99), the ins and outs of romantic relationships. Here is my memory of their conversation:

“Every horse has a buggy, and every pot has a lid. It’s a matter of never giving up. But, don’t be too fussy, and don’t allow yourself to become like the owl in the forest, who, with a melancholy voice, hoots out each night — Whoo, Whoo, anyone will do!”

Anyone will not do for you. Nor will you ever find love by using a mysterious potion, lotion, balm, or salve. Your search for romance begins by understanding your emotional mind; it ends with the burning passion for the number, two.

The content of this article is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for treatment by a professional. The characters in this story are not real. Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality.


1. “The Growing Significance of Hot IQ’s”, John Mayer, American Psychologist, 2012.

2. “Emotional Intelligence”, Goleman, Bantam, 1995.


Richard Elghammer contributes his column each week to the Journal Review.


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