Recently, I had a conversation with a friend where I revealed that I have never had anyone head-over-heels in love with me or vice-versa.
It wasn’t a “poor me” conversation, nor was it meant to evoke sympathy. Rather, it was a factual observation.
As someone who writes a lot about relationships, the subject of love fascinates me. Also, as someone who works for a retired biologist who has extensively studied human sexuality, you could say I have a professional interest in it as well.
One of the most interesting things that I have learned is that being in love literally alters the brain. The group Nazareth may not have known it when they sang it, but love can lead to madness. All of us probably know someone or may have even been someone who did something in the name of love…something that appeared absolutely insane to all those around, but made perfect sense to him or her.
In fact, most of us can probably look back to a time when we thought that we were deeply in love and in retrospect wonder, “What on earth was I thinking?”
While the thrill of mad love is certainly exciting, it can have a downside.
Below are three real life examples of some well-known couples who proved that sometimes, when it comes to love, a little restraint can be a good thing.
So, the next time you or someone you know yearns to be the object of someone’s undying desire, keep in mind the old adage: Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.
1. Juana the Mad and Philip I of Castile.
When Princess Juana of Castile, the second daughter of the legendary Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, married Philip, The Duke of Normandy, it seemed like she was a true-life fairy tale princess. The couple were immediately attracted to each other and by all accounts, enjoyed a very active sex life with each other that resulted in several healthy children.
However, there was a problem: Philip was a philanderer, and Juana was jealous—very jealous. According to the book, A Treasury of Royal Scandals, when the latter suspected a lady-in-waiting of being the object of her husband’s wandering eye, she attacked the woman with a pair of scissors, cutting her face and hacking off her hair in the process. Unsurprisingly, Juana’s behavior only resulted in driving her husband away from her. According to some historians, Philip may have even engaged in physical abuse towards his wife while she was pregnant. Things between the two were really on shaky ground when in 1506, mere months after he and Juana were made joint monarchs of Castile, Philip died suddenly of typhoid fever at the age of 28.
It was upon his death that Juana really lost it. She was so grief-stricken that she refused to allow anyone near his corpse and insisted upon having his casket with her at all times, even opening it from time to time so she could get a glimpse of his decaying remains. Eventually, she did bury him, but it was only after a priest convinced her that if she was really good, Philip might come back to life. Needless to say, that never happened.
Juana lived for another 47 years under a type of house arrest which confined her to The Convent of Santa Clara in Tordesillas, Spain.
While no one can pinpoint for sure what exactly was wrong with her, most historians agree that any underlying condition she had was not helped by her toxic marriage.
2. Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen.
On the surface, these two seemed like a strange match from the start. The former was the bassist of the legendary punk rock band The Sex Pistols, and the latter a “groupie” from a solidly middle-class family with a long history of mental illness (despite being only 18 years when she met him).
Supposedly, Spungen introduced Vicious to heroin and in a matter of months he became heavily hooked on both her and the drug. Their relationship was a tumultuous one punctuated with instances of domestic violence. On October 12, 1978, the relationship ended for good when Vicious reportedly stabbed Spungen to death in their room at New York’s famed Chelsea Hotel. He plead not guilty but never made it to trial because he died of a heroin overdose four months later in February 1979.
Despite their violent relationship, the two have gone on to be pop culture icons and were even the subject of the 1986 cult-classic film, Sid and Nancy starring a young Gary Oldman as Vicious.
3. Paul Yates and Michael Hutchence.
Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of the Australian rock group INXS, was already a well-established ladies’ man (whose past loves included pop star Kylie Minogue and supermodel Helena Christensen) when he hooked up with British TV personality Paula Yates in 1995. Many, including members of his own family, remarked that Yates wasn’t like his previous girlfriends. Indeed, Yates, who was 34 at the time they met, was not only the mother of three but still very much married to former Boomtown Rats singer/Live Aid founder, Sir Bob Geldof, when they got together. Their affair became the scandal de jour for awhile in Britain and Yates even claimed that Princess Diana personally thanked her for taking some of the tabloid coverage for awhile.
The pair quickly had a daughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, who was born in 1996—a mere two months after Yates’s divorce from Geldof was finalized. However, like many relationships that start out red-hot, their relationship quickly cooled down and became plagued by problems. A nanny called the police after reportedly finding a number of illegal drugs in the couples’ London home. Yates was reportedly pressuring Hutchence to marry her while according to friends and family, he was becoming increasingly depressed and looking for a way to end the relationship.
In November of 1997, Hutchence found his way out of the relationship when he was found dead in a Sydney hotel room. Even though the death was ruled a suicide and Hutchence had several legal and illegal drugs in his system, Yates refused to accept it was a suicide, claiming he died accidentally while attempting autoerotic asphyxiation. She was so distraught that she even had Hutchence’s ashes encased in a pillow, which she supposedly slept with every night.
Sadly, Yates never recovered from her lover’s death, and she died less than 3 years later in 2000 from a heroin overdose leaving their daughter an orphan. Reportedly, she was buried with the pillow containing Hutchence’s ashes. In an interesting twist, Yates’s ex-husband sought and gained custody of then-4 year old “Tiger” and raised her as his own along side his daughters with Yates.
In conclusion, love is a powerful thing.
It can, quite literally, drive one to madness or at the very least, abandon their sanity for awhile. While the idea of that sort of love can sound romantic, the truth is that living it—especially when reality returns and sends us crashing back to Earth with a vengeance—may not be such a great thing. As these real life couples illustrate, it may even cost one or both partners their lives.
Sometimes, it’s better to experience such things by living vicariously through art or admiring it from afar.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Jenna Penielle Lyons
Photo: elephant journal archives