In the beginning!
Have you ever heard or said, “I can’t stop thinking about them!” Why can those first few weeks of love become so addictive, and obsessive?
Love is one of the most studied, but least understood phenomena.
However, there is a body of research looking to understand the biology of love, to help us understand just what it is, and why it makes our lives … well … more alive.
Fisher (2005) studied two and a half thousand brain scans of college students who viewed pictures of someone they romantically loved, and compared the scans of the same students when they were just looking at pictures of acquaintances.
They found there were primitive areas of the brain involved in romantic love, which lit up when talking about their loved one. This most complex of experiences therefore touches the very heart of us, and moves us at a primal and essential level.
When falling in love, chemicals involved in the reward circuit flood our brain, producing symptoms of passion and anxiety together. That’s why we get the ‘butterflies’ feeling when we are entering into a new relationship.
Will it last?
To help us cope with these overwhelming feelings, stress hormones are released, which in turn lowers the serotonin levels. This influences our thinking, and creates the ‘I can’t stop thinking about them’ experience.
Many theories propose that there is an inevitable change over time from passionate love to what is called compassionate love. But brain scans of couples who had been married for an average of 21 years found the same intensity of activity in the dopamine rich areas of the brain (the pleasure centre) as those found in a ‘new’ love, suggesting that this is not the case, and that the excitement and pleasure of romance can remain. It is just the apprehension and anxiety that is lost.
So, for those people that tell you that it is inevitable that the passion eventually goes from a relationship, and that you can’t expect things to be the same as when you first met … they are technically wrong.
Perhaps if you are not happily feeling and experiencing that loved or loving feeling, then maybe it’s time to consider what you are looking for and needing when talking about ‘being in love’. Read on to find out if you want to love, or need to be loved, and the impact this has in you.
Author: Dr Sandra Westland
Dr Sandra Westland is a UKCP registered existential psychotherapist and counsellor with over 17 years experience of helping people with a wide variety of psychological issues. She is a bestselling author of 4 books, and enjoys running workshops both in the UK and Internationally, as well as teaching, and writing books and programmes to help people become all they can be. Her academic speciality is in the subject of body image and obesity.
Originally posted 2017-06-20 11:13:44.