And, this is your brain on love…

And, this is your brain on love…

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Mental Floss

People say love is like an addiction. According to some neuroscientists, they’re right! Romantic love can release so many happy-go-lucky neurotransmitters into your bloodstream that the effects can outdo some drugs. Here’s what happens in your brain when you stick with that special someone.



IN THE BEGINNING….



When you have butterflies in your stomach from meeting someone new, dopamine levels surge. All that dopamine gives you an extra thrill when you see your newly beloved, creating an intense craving to be around them. A neurotrophin called nerve growth factor accompanies all this euphoria and increases your emotional dependency. Lastly, serotonin levels drop, which cranks up the dial for desire. This chemical cocktail is why lovestruck couples can be so infatuated with each other. Studies show that the chemical concentrations brewing inside the brains of newly minted lovebirds are similar to those who suffer from OCD.

AS THE RELATIONSHIP SOLIDIFIES…



As the relationship wears on, lovebirds become less obsessive. The bonding phase begins. The raphe nuclei start producing more serotonin, while, within a year, nerve growth factor levels usually return to normal. Things may feel less exciting, but the rise in serotonin helps produce a trusting, less needy attachment that primes couples for a long-term relationship. Oxytocin—the hormone that floods your brain during an orgasm—helps curb obsession even more and helps make things more stable. (Oxytocin, by the way, is the same hormone that makes maternal bonds so strong.)

Significant parts of North American society seem to take the attitude that sexuality is mostly how you attract a partner — then, it’s what newlyweds do for a while until real life begins. After that, it’s just a boring duty that no-one is really that into…

In less cynical parts of our world, sex is still used as a chip in a power game, viewed as a payment given once everything else is in order and given last priority by simple virtue of exhaustion.

Then, couples wonder where the bonding went, why nothing seems to eliminate obsession or erase distrust and why they just can’t seem to get to the loyal, protective and faithful permanence of relationship they both long for.

Thankfully, people are finally starting to listen to researchers who have the courage to tell the truth about marriage. People who can admit that marriage is first and foremost a sexual pair-bond — and sexuality is as or more essential then every other kind of intimacy.

Admittedly, in a society where so many have been sexually abused, it’s not a popular message. But, leaving children unprotected from abuse by allowing marriages to disintegrate — ya, that’s definitely worse…

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