How People Fall Into and Out of Love
With modern analytical tools at their disposal, science has set its sights on how people fall into and out of love. Some of the findings have been quite unexpected and contrary to long held common beliefs regarding what love is and how people fall in love, stay in love, and in some cases fall out of love.
Interestingly, like much else in life, love between humans is very much a cyclical phenomenon, which is why human love can grow stronger and weaker over time. A fair characterization of human love is that there is actually a love cycle that occurs between two humans that are falling in love, are together as a couple in love, and in some cases fall out of love. The love cycle needs to be rejuvenated from time to time to avoid completing the cycle and falling out of love.
How People Fall Into Love
Scientific research using methods such as brain imaging and blood chemistry analysis has revealed that love between two humans is very much a chemical process that goes on in the bodies of each partner. Yes, what one thinks of the other person has a lot to do with falling in love. However, those overwhelming feelings of love when one is falling in love with another person are driven by a variety of chemicals that the body releases into the bloodstream that alter brain chemistry in a way to give one both feelings of elation and reduced capabilities for making sound decisions. It turns out that age-old term being “madly in love” is actually quite an accurate description of falling in love. In many ways, falling in love changes a person’s brain chemistry to a point where they may do things that their rational mind would never permit them to do; an altered state of consciousness bordering on madness. For lack of a better description, this initial stage of a loving relationship between two people could be called the blissful love stage.
Two chemicals are released into the bloodstream in large quantities and processed by the brain during the blissful love stage. Dopamine enters receptors in the brain that provide the blissful feeling of being in love. Norepinephrine provides something similar to an adrenaline rush when one is near the person they are in love with, which causes the heart to race and a general sense of excitement. Norepinephrine also causes people in the blissful love stage to be more oriented towards achieving goals and provides a heightened sense of attention, which provides two people in love the ability to focus on developing their new relationship and subsequently lose interest in other activities.
Another chemical change occurs in the human brain when people are in the blissful love stage of a relationship. Couples in love have serotonin deficiencies that are similar to deficiencies that people with obsessive-compulsive disorders have, which is likely why one obsesses over the object of their love. Brain imaging has found that the area of the brain that coordinates judgement, known as the frontal cortex, has vastly reduced activity when one is either near or shown a picture of the person they are in love with. This is believed to be one of the reasons why people go to great lengths to be with the one they love and sometimes make rash decisions that they would likely not make if they were not under the love spell. The reduction in frontal cortex activity also causes people in love to suspend doubts and critical thinking regarding their love partner, which is why many people have trouble seeing their love partner for who they really are during the blissful love stage.
The chemical nature of love is why people often fall in love with someone they are not necessarily intending to fall in love with. The love chemicals alter a person’s brain, and bam, cupid’s arrow has struck and a person is in love. Scientific research indicates that who one falls love with is also related to natural processes of finding a suitable mate for species survival. Men give off a barely discernible odor that attracts certain women who are unfamiliar with their odor, but repels women who are familiar with their odor. This is nature’s way of matching up genetically different people, as women are naturally repelled by similar smelling men, who in prehistoric times would likely be men that they were in close relations with (such as brothers or close cousins) that had very similar genetic makeups, which is bad for reproduction.
How Love Changes Over Time
The blissful love stage chemicals last for approximately two to three years, at which time their levels fall off and a new stage of the love cycle is entered, which could be called the mature love stage. It is at this point that a relationship enters a new venerable phase, and will endure if strong bonds have been made during the initial blissful love stage and efforts are made to rejuvenate the love from time to time. Besides losing much of the strong chemical reaction to the object of one’s love upon entering the mature love stage, one also regains their ability to think rationally about their love partner. This may introduce some uncomfortable thoughts, as faults that were overlooked while madly in love suddenly come to the fore. At this point in a relationship, some people claim their partner has changed, which may be the case, but it is also just as likely that one’s perception of their partner has changed, rather than an actual change in their partner.
This is why it is critical for couples to do things to rejuvenate their love from time to time. It is important to keep the love chemicals flowing and the feelings of love strong after the blissful love stage has passed. While a couple may never reenter the blissful love stage entirely, they can certainly do a lot to keep their love for each other going at a strong level to endure the unavoidable pitfalls and challenges that any loving relationship faces over time. This includes having intimate sexual moments on a regular basis, as sex releases a hormone called oxytocin that reinforces a long-term commitment between two partners. Endorphins are also released when couples have physical contact and sex, which makes people in the mature love stage feel secure and soothed when with their partner. Of course, there is a lot more to a lasting loving relationship than physical contact and sex. Good communication and just doing things together as a couple are also very important to keep a loving relationship strong in the mature love stage.
How People Fall Out Of Love
Unfortunately, some loving relationships do not continue in the mature love stage, and wind up reaching the end of the love cycle, which could be called the falling out of love stage. There are many reasons why people may fall out of love, from growing apart as people to losing intimacy and communication to finding other love interests. Whatever the reason for falling out of love, the brain chemicals that attracted a person to another person return to normal, leaving lingering thoughts and emotions in their place. The good news is that there is nothing stopping humans from going back into the blissful and mature love stages with another partner, or even rekindling their love with their original partner.
How to Cultivate Love
While falling in love has a lot to do with natural attraction and releases of chemicals in the body, there are ways that people can increase the chances of gaining the love of another person. While one cannot change their genetic makeup or directly cause the love chemicals to be released in the person one is hoping to make a mutual loving relationship with, there are ways to entice the release of such love chemicals in another person.
Interestingly, scientific research has shown that the love chemicals are often released when two people endure a harrowing event together. It is not all that uncommon for two people that endure a life-threatening event together to feel in love afterwards. Of course, there is no need to have such an extreme experience with someone to develop reciprocal love.
The following are some ideas to increase the chances someone will fall in love with you.
- If they visit the same place on a regular basis, just happen to drop by from time to time without being too obvious. If a relationship is showing signs of starting to cultivate, drop by more often or suggest meeting up elsewhere.
- Talk about some things that you have in common. It may provide for good conversation and put the object of your love at ease. It may also provide opportunities to meet up elsewhere and do something you both like to do together, which can start romantic feelings and love chemicals flowing.
- Tell them that you like being around them, without being overbearing. People like to feel appreciated, not smothered.
- Show sincere interest in what they do and what they like. Do not just talk about yourself. If someone is going to take a liking to you, show interest in them. Avoid awkward personal questions in the beginning, which could backfire and be conversation or relationship-enders. You will have plenty of chances to share intimate details of your lives, once a relationship has started.
- Be positive and do not just talk about your problems. Everyone has problems. When you are trying to cultivate a relationship, it is important to have a positive attitude and check your problems at the door.
- Give the object of your love a sincere compliment and make eye contact. People naturally love being complimented, and the eyes are the windows to the soul. What better way is there to connect to your love interest on a higher level?
Of course, sometimes love just is not going to happen, and it can be dangerous if one becomes obsessed with another person that does not have a love interest in them. If someone is not showing signs of falling in love, it is best to move on and find someone else that has better chemistry and is perhaps more inclined to fall in love, rather than obsessing over an impossible love. That can be hard to do since the feelings and chemicals associated with love are so powerful, but the best way to get over someone is to find someone else to fall in love with that has reciprocal love feelings.
Feel free to share your thoughts regarding the love cycle and how people fall into love, stay in love, and fall out love in the comments section below.
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© 2013 John Coviello