When it comes to love, what’s going on?
When you fall in love, you can’t stop thinking about that person. Your heart speeds up when you see them and you just can’t focus on things like you were doing before.
Psychologically and physically, we actually ‘change’ when we are falling for someone. When it comes to love as well as what can help a couple to last, science has a few things to say.
When you think about love, science is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. You may picture holding hands, exchanging gifts, chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Perhaps you conjure up images of date nights like watching a movie together.
Love appears to be a field of emotions, where you appear to be feeling more than anything else. This may be scientifically truer than we realize, as love actually does have a physiological effect on our bodies—it alters our hormone levels.
Love used to be a field left to the romantic poets. Now the field of science is beginning to take a closer look at what love is– and what it does to our bodies and brains in scientific terms. After so much time, science is finally taking an interest in love and its effects on human beings, delving into its physical and mental effects.
While you may not need a brain scan to tell you in love, you may have only caught on to the fact that you were falling for someone because others around you start noticing changes in the way you’re acting, responding, and more. Perhaps you find yourself humming while walking down the street– something you never normally do!
There are a lot of ways to know that you’re in love and as it turns out, the concept of being ‘love sick’ may even be a real thing. Harvard Medical professor Richard Schwartz says that love raises cortisol levels, something that makes immune function go down. It also turns up your dopamine levels, which stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain. Serotonin levels dropping may add to that ‘obsessed in love’ feeling where you’re infatuated with the other.
While people may be familiar with that initial ‘crazy in love’ phase, Schwartz comments that love also has other phases. While calling the matter ‘complex’, the medical professor admitted that love comes with different “phases and moods”. What begins as passion can, with luck, turn into compassionate love that remains passionate at times.
What does it mean? Serotonin levels gradually come back to normal and is followed by an increase in oxytocin. This is a hormone that is associated with calmer, mature love. Known as the bonding chemical, it truly does help solidify bonds while raising your immune system and giving couples the same health benefits that married couples have been shown to exhibit.
This is a great thing when you consider these couples have a longer lifespan, lower depression, fewer heart attacks and strokes, and do better and recover more quickly from things like cancer, illnesses, or big surgeries. As for science’s journey to find out more about love, this professor says that science has made progress and there is more known about the brain and love than a few decades ago.
He also is sure to note that what science has found has not told us anything outside of the ordinary about the topic that “we didn’t already know”. Despite the studies that have been and are still being conducted, it remains the case that couples counseling or making an effort is more likely to improve your relationship than advances in science, while being part of a couple will teach you more about love than science ever could.
All couples have a shift from passionate to compassionate love eventually. Some find that they bring the passion back and can rekindle flames or that the shift is to a more permanent compassionate relationship. Like the tides, it is normal to have phases where couples are very close and then drift apart. The couples that are best able to keep their connection alive through the years have a combination of love as companions as well as passionate love.
It can be tough to keep love or a relationship healthy and nourished in these times. In the United States in particular, work stress and hours spent on the job can have a negative impact on relationships and a feeling of closeness. After all, it’s hard to feel intimate with someone romantically or as a partner when you are gone so often or both of you are busy.
Distance is something that may crop up in relationships, but strong couples can learn from this fact and use it to strengthen themselves so that their relationship stands the test of time. Making an effort to reduce actual physical distance or listen to the needs voiced by your partner will also close the gap when it comes to existing tensions or distance in the relationship.
While love can always survive in the modern climate, it’s also up to couples to do the work necessary to keep their relationship strong. Sharing activities, goals, and time can help a couple to go through life together and not have the stress of everything tear them apart. Even seeking a couples therapist could help bring you closer if you need to.
Curiosity and time spent together and apart may also have a positive impact on your relationship. Making time to be involved and recognizing that you may not ‘know’ everything about your partner can create a sense of security and exploration that boosts your odds of staying together as a happy couple for decades to come.
If you want to last as a couple, work on being loving and supportive no matter what phase you’re in. Make an effort in everything, including the chance to have your time together and apart. If you can do that, scientifically, your odds of success will go up.