When you’re in love, you are in a state of socially acceptable insanity. Know why your cheeks flush when you find your crush gazing at you? What makes people do crazy things when they fall in love? Is love really blind? Why some marriages are successful while others fail badly? What needs of your spouse are you neglecting? And, what effects does love have on your body? If you find yourself asking such questions, this article is for you. Science has unfolded every single thing and fortunately that includes love, too.
When in love, many neurochemical changes happen. The level of dopamine increases creating a feeling of euphoria. Adrenaline and norepinephrine also increase making a person feel restless, increasing the heartbeat and everything else we experience for that special one.
Love increases the activity in the ‘pleasure centre’ of the brain and blood flow increases to that area and interestingly this part of the brain is the same which is hyperactive in people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The levels of serotonin, another neurochemical lower which is exactly what happens in OCD patients. That explains why a person in love cannot think of anything else.
Love was always thought to be experienced in the ‘heart’, now we all know that is not true and it is brain where everything including love is felt, but where exactly in the brain? This has been shown in a study conducted in the University of Chicago which has provided the first ever evidence of an area of brain involved in love. This area known an ‘Anterior Insula‘ plays an instrumental role in love, according to neuroscientist Stephanie Cacioppo, lead scientist of the study. Not only this, but this study also proved something most people believed that love and lust or sexual desire are not the same feelings. They both are felt and expressed differently.
Study shows ‘Love, defined by the study’s scientists as ‘an intentional state for intense and long term longing for union with another’ is experienced due to activity in Anterior Insula while lust defined as ‘an intentional state for short term, pleasurable goal’, is felt in posterior Insula which affects sensation and motor control involved in sexual desire or lust.
Scientists applied a very intelligent method to prove this. They studied a 48 year old man who suffered a stroke which damaged his anterior insula. The patient made the decision normally about sexual attraction (as there was no damage to posterior insula) while when asked to make a decision concerning love, he took longer than other men of same age and ethnicity.
Talking about differences in love and lust, there has been another interesting research carried out by scientists from Northwestern University about the differences in the marriage of 17th and 18th century to that of today. That study draws people’s attention to an amazing fact which most of people have never given a thought.
Most people claim that these days (in America) the reason for so many marriages failing and ending in divorce is that spouses are expecting more of each other (or their marriage) than past. But According to Dr.Finkel, the author of the Study – “That is not the issue, thing is that that the nature of what they are expecting from each other has changed, they are asking less of their marriage regarding basic safety needs, but they are asking more of their marriage regarding higher psychological needs like need for personal growth”.
Since independence of US till 1960s, the primary goal of marriage was fulfilling the basic needs of food, shelter and safety, that time the idea of marrying for love seemed ridiculous to most people. Not that people did not want love from their marriages, but love was not just the point of marriage, like today. When the aim of marriage only included meeting the basic needs, there was no much need for spouses to develop deep insight and understanding to each other’s psychological needs. As the country got wealthier, the main point of marriage changed from food and shelter to love, companionship and expression of self. But for spouses to fulfill such psychological needs, it is essential for them to invest time and energy and psychological resources in marriage, they must develop strong relationship skills and interpersonal compatibility and that is where today’s marriage starts failing. The spouses are just not ready to put an effort to meet each other’s psychological expectations. Couples with children invest more time and energy parenting while those without spend most of their psychological resources in work.
Pointing out this flaw in today’s couples, the research also gives a good news. The best marriages today in which spouses spend enough time and energy to fulfill the psychological demands of love and self-expression are extremely happy marriages, happier than the most successful marriages of early eras.
As long as a couple spends enough time understanding and helping each other meet the emotional needs, keeping the communication alive even when there is an argument, there’s no way a marriage can break. Something like this has been claimed in another study by Dr.Keith Sanford, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University. His Study says that happy couples have big fights followed by big resolution.
Couples mostly get two advises about negative communication in relationship, either refrain from it or it is a natural part of interaction that will solve the conflict, but it is actually neither. Dr. Sanford recruited a sample of 734 people in heterosexual relationships. Each Subject was asked to complete an internet questionnaire that involved answering the questions about a recent relationship conflict, the subject’s use of negative communication, they were asked to rate how upset they felt when the argument was at its peak and how do they currently feel about it. The difference of two ratings was used to measure the progress couples made toward the resolution. Results were different for people in satisfying relationships and those in unhappy relationships.
Those in satisfying relationship, negative communication was associated with bigger conflicts, but it didn’t do any bad to couple because arguments always resolved due to resolutions that followed the conflicts. Even those couples in satisfying relationship used negative communication, it was same as a conflict without any negative communication, because no argument resulted in harm. While people in unhappy relationships had bigger conflicts and even if there was no negative communication, they had difficulty resolving the argument.
So when it comes to resolving a conflict, a satisfied couple keeps the feeling of satisfaction alive and that is what keeps their relationship out of harm. Not only a satisfying, loving relationship keeps a person in his right mind even during a fight, but it is good for heart too. At Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute, Cardiologist Julie Damp says loving relationship keeps the heart healthy.
A recent study from Finland also showed that women and men in satisfying relationships had a significantly low risk of having a heart attack and dying from a heart attack compared to single people. It can be explained by the fact that people in loving relationships experience neuro-hormonal changes that have positive effects on the body including cardiovascular system also because hormonal level in the body responds to the levels of anxiety and stress and those in loving relationships experience less stress. Other researches have shown that unsatisfying relationships have an exact opposite effects and result in an increased risk of Coronary Artery Disease.
Science not only build things, it also helps you in your relationship. There is a scientific reason behind every behavior we show and every good or bad we feel.
[Image Credit: Twoday]