It turns out a thin line between love and hate is more than just a Pretenders song and crappy, mid-90s Martin Lawerence movie. It's a scientific fact.
London researchers have found brain activity occuring in some of the same areas for hate and romantic love. A fact which explains the avalanche of broken glasses and obscenities that an ex, not an estranged friend, has the uncanny ability to inspire.
Researchers showed 17 men and women a series of pictures, some of neautral faces and others of subjects people said they loathed. Exes and competitive co-workers were thrown into the hate mix, along with a famous scorned politician that mysteriously goes unnamed (could it be Dubya?).
When analyzing the brain scans, researchers concluded hate has a "unique pattern" that causes the hater to have an almost laser-like focus on their enemy. Abhoring someone, they conclude, significantly sharpenes your ability to be able to predict their next move. A tool, no doubt, that would be useful when protecting yourself.
As for the similarities in the emotions, the romantic love and hate circuits both lit up the putamen and insula, which are linked to aggression and stress in the "thinking region"of the brain. Which is why you may have "loved someone so much it hurts" and (no matter how much you don't want to) will always sweat by the phone, willing for him to call.
The research also concluded the differences between love and hate. Hate is actually a much more logical emotion. When deeply in love, the part of the cerebral cortex involved in judgement and reasoning shuts off. What scientists call "less critical" I call "less intelligent."
Yep, that explains it.
So next time you run into an ex and wonder, "What in God's name was I thinking?" just blame it on your neurons. They have mind of their own.