Why do we Fall in Love?

inlove

Why do we Fall in Love?

Have you ever wondered how much of love is biology and how much is psychology? If you’ve ever wondered if chemistry just happens or can be created, if love at first sight is real and all other things about love, you are living in a wondrous time. Why do we fall in love? Science has some answers. There are three different systems in the brain, that when brought together spell the emotional and biological phenomenon we call love. First is the sex drive created to ensure the perpetuation of our species. The feeling of romantic love helps you focus on one person making sure you don’t waste any time or energy. The last part is the comfort and security you feel when with a long term partner, giving you time to raise children together.

Love feels fantastic because the pleasure centers of the brain are activated when we fall for someone. Dopamine, the chemical that makes you feel euphoric, enthralled, and sleepless mirrors other experiences, such as being high on cocaine. Love at first sight does occur, though more to men than to women. Men are visual creatures. Whereas women fall in love in terms of who a person is, their charm, status or power rather than their physicality. Love at first sight may be an evolutionary advantage, producing offspring in a short amount of time rather than the long, drawn out process we go through today with society as our backdrop.

Timing of course is just as important in falling in love as it is with everything else in life. If you’re too busy with work or focusing on your responsibilities you may not notice the perfect person for you, when they’re just inches away. But with a little free time and the right mindset, a sort of openness, not necessarily looking for it, love can hit you like a lightning bolt. If you want someone to fall in love with you, do exciting things together with them. This releases dopamine and norepinephrine into the brain, mimicking romantic love. There is a difference between love and lust. You can feel love for one person. But lust dissipates after sex. And you can feel attracted to someone without being compatible, or jealous if they are into someone else.

How do you keep the spark alive? By trying new and exciting things together, and doing the things you did when you were first dating. Perhaps someday all of our questions on love will be explained. Will that kill the romance? Or will it give us a finer appreciation of the nuances of love? Only time and intrepid scientists will give us the answers. For more on this topic read, Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love by Helen Fisher.

How Love Changes the Human Brain

brain-in-love

How Love Changes the Human Brain

When we are in love, all we can think about is that special someone. They are on our mind in a different way than you think too. Everyone notices you act differently. Colors are brighter. Food tastes better and the world looks like a marvelous place filled with endless glittery wonders. But that’s all happening in your brain too. You see huge biochemical and neurological reactions occur when you fall in love. Parts of the brain are revved up, others shut down. You actually think differently when you are in love. Here’s how love changes the human brain.

The elation you feel when you fall in love is the same as felt when addicted to opiates. It interacts with the pleasure centers of the brain. You are addicted to the object of your affection. When you fall in love you don’t think singularly anymore. You started thinking in terms of the relationship. If you have verbally committed to one another you are now in fact a unit. The truth is that feeling connected to another person or people, whether it’s with parents, children, or lovers, makes us feel happier and a better sense of well-being. When you are in love you start thinking in terms of “us”  “we” and “our” instead of “I” “my” and “mine.” A recent study has shown that thinking in singular pronouns is linked to higher depression rates. So if you are in love, wouldn’t the opposite be true?

When you are in love you have better heart health, and live longer and healthier with less mental illness according to studies. Going head-over-heels for someone sometimes makes you feel like you’re out of your mind, that you’ve totally lost reason. Scientists say that is in fact true. Using MRI technology, researchers scanned the brains of those in love and found that the frontal cortex shuts down. This is the logic and reasoning center. Scientists believe it helps us trust and bond to a mate. In loving relationships research has shown that just holding hands decreases stress levels, lowers blood pressure and helps improve one’s health overall. A supportive, encouraging relationship even improves the overall functioning of the brain.

In one study, those who described themselves as “madly in love” found that the happiness centers of the brain activated when gazing at a photo of their lover, while the stress areas went completely dark. Emotional bonding, much like that of an infant and a mother takes place in a romantic relationship. With trust and respect we begin to feel safe. Studies have even shown that love closes down the negative emotional areas of the brain that control anger and fear. Let love shine in your life and so many good things will follow. For more about love and your brain read, This is Your Brain in Love: New Scientific Breakthroughs for a More Passionate and Emotionally Healthy Marriage by Dr. Earl Henslin.

Love and Your Brain

Valentine-romance

Love and Your Brain

Originally Westerners thought that love originated in the heart. Of course we’ve known for a long time that love originates in the brain. But more about the phenomenon of love in terms of what exactly happens has been uncovered recently by advances in science. Here’s all about love and your brain. One study used resonance imaging on seven men and ten women who said their love was as deep as a canyon. The relationships that they were in were between one month to just shy of two years. What scientists found when showing pictures of the beloved to participants was that the areas of the brain associated with persistence and reward lit up.

Psychologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and the study’s co-author Arthur Aron said of these findings, “Intense passionate love uses the same system in the brain that gets activated when a person is addicted to drugs.” So you crave your lover like you would a narcotic. Romantic love is the strongest of human emotions, say experts. Once we choose a mate, we are highly motivated to win that person over. Neuroscientist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the other author of this study Lucy Brown elaborates saying, “You can feel happy when you’re in love, but you can also feel anxious. The other person becomes a goal in life.” You want to win them. They are your objective. And you want to get them however you can.

Love is connected to both the pleasure center of the brain and the reward center. It is a crucial part to our survival. Another thing, as Brown puts it, “It helps us recognize when something feels good.” This drive is even stronger than the sex drive. One problem lots of couples run into is that once they’ve won their love and some years go by the spark dies. Does the intense feeling of romantic love have to fade? Not exactly. Aaron and his fellow researchers conducted another study in which seven men and ten women married in average around 21 years said that they were still immensely in love with their spouses. Their brains were also scanned on an FMRI. When shown pictures of their spouses the part of the brain that lit up was associated with enjoying a reward and attachment.

As Aaron put it, “For most people, the standard pattern is a gradual decline of passionate love, but a growth in bonding.” Scientists believe this bonding exists for the couple to raise children. Aaron said, “Most mammals don’t raise children together, but humans do.” These two experiments illustrate how love changes as time goes on. Of this Aaron said, “As long as love remains, we get used to the relationship, and we’re not afraid our partner will leave us, so we’re not as focused on the craving.” If you are in a long term relationship but want to feel that intensity, that craving again read, The Busy Couple’s Guide to Everyday Romance: Fun and Easy Ways to Keep the Spark Alive by Editha Rodriguez.

Scientists found a Cheating Gene

h

A British extra-marital affair website called Elicit Encounters has just finished a poll of 2,000 women and found that 75% of those who cheated had a mother who had an affair. 62% of these said that their mother’s choice to cheat had a direct influence on their decision to go astray. 54% of men said that their father’s infidelity made them more comfortable with having an affair. Some scientists today even believe that cheating is genetic. Researchers from the State University of New York in conjunction with Binghamton University found that 50% of those who had the DRD4 gene, also known as the thrill seeking gene, had more acts of infidelity and more sexual partners. This is one variation of the dopamine receptor D4 polymorphism or DRD4. According to Justin Garcia, lead researcher on this study, those who had the gene “were more likely to have a history of uncommitted sex, including one-night stands and acts of infidelity.” Gambling addiction and alcoholism are also associated with this gene. By influencing brain chemistry the gene influences a person’s behavior. The rush of dopamine to the reward and pleasure centers of the brain is what someone with this active gene craves.

181 students took part in this study. They took a survey that was anonymous detailing their sexual history. Questions such as whether or not they’d been unfaithful and how many sex partner they had had previous were included. A special mouthwash was then used for each participant to see what their genetic makeup was like and if they indeed had the gene DRD4. This gene does have a variation with longer alleles and those that have this variety are more likely to be promiscuous and take part in infidelity. Those that had 7 repeat alleles or more were twice as likely to have taken part in promiscuous sex or a “one night stand.” According to Garcia, “It turns out everyone has got the gene.”  The difference is how pronounced it is. “Just as height varies, the amount of information in the gene varies. In those who have more, their alleles are longer and they are more prone to thrill-seeking,” said Garcia. He went on to say, “It’s inheritable, too. If your parents have it, you have it.” What varies is how impactful the dopamine surge is. Those who have longer alleles need more dopamine to rush to the pleasure centers of the brain in order to feel satisfied. To give an example, Garcia says that when it comes to sex, “It’s rewarding and makes us excited and gives us pleasure. But the people with the DRD4 gene need more stimuli to feel satiated. Some of them say ‘wow, that was a rush’ after jumping out of a plane. Others ask, ‘When is the plane going back up?’” For more on this topic, read Mean Genes by Terry Burnham and Jay Phelan.

How Beautiful Women Mess with your Head Biologically

beautiful-woman

According to new research out of Canada when a man talks to a beautiful woman the conversation is shorter by 3.5 minutes on average, and he remembers more details from the conversation. Doctoral researcher at Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and the study’s coauthor Ping Dong says that when a woman is beautiful a man seems to make more of an effort, listens more carefully and watches what he says more carefully in order to make a good impression. Since the brain is more active time seems to go by sooner. But speeding up time isn’t the only way beautiful women mess with your head on a biological level. They also confuse fiction and reality. According to research out of Texas Christian University the more you lie to impress your beauty the more difficulty you will have separating fact from fiction weeks later. That’s because according to researchers the brain accepts these lies as truths. Honesty is the best policy guys. You may not be able to remember what mistruth you told her but she will definitely remember.

Women who are easy on the eyes also make men lose patience. Research out of the National Bureau of Economic Research in conjunction with McMaster University found that hot, sexy and beautiful women fire up the reward centers in the brain, making men forgo a payout in the future for instant gratification. Their research found that men accepted poor terms on mortgages more readily if the commercial advertising the loan features an attractive woman. They also opted for a short-term payout rather than a richer one down the road after they looked at ladies that had what we call sex appeal. Beautiful women bring out your inner hero. According to a U.K. study men were more likely to act generously and donate to the poor when a gorgeous woman was present. According to the authors men are more likely to be philanthropic when good looking women are watching, which women find attractive. New research out of the University of Texas found that nothing gives you a high like a beautiful woman. After observing photos of gorgeous gals with hourglass figures, men felt a high that felt as if it was drug induced. The waist-to-hip ratio sends signals to men that this is a good candidate for reproduction. Researchers say the result is a powerful jolt to the pleasure centers of the brain. For advice on how to approach attractive women, read How to “Pick Up” Beautiful Women in Nightclubs or Any Other Place by John Eagan.