Fascinating facts about the love/neuroscience connection
Love is powerful, scary, amazing – there are so many words to describe it. There’s no denying that all-consuming high you feel when you first fall in love. You feel like you are literally glowing from the inside out.
In fact, the neuroscience behind falling in love is quite fascinating. While many of us associate love with the heart, romantic feelings originate in the brain.
Here are four facts about the love and neuroscience connection that may surprise you:
1. Love inspires us to overcome our challenges.
Love is linked to the reward part of the brain. This makes sense from a biological standpoint because if people weren’t motivated to work through their relationship problems, everyone would call it quits at the first sign of trouble and the human species wouldn’t cease to exist.
One tool to reach for in helping you work though relationship issues is Dr Marsha Lucas’ book, Rewire Your Brain for Love: Creating Vibrant Relationships Using the Science of Mindfulness. A neurologist and psychotherapist, Lucas offers mindfulness practices to guide you toward a more empathic, communicative and healthy relationship.
2. Being in love is like being on drugs.
Ever experience that rush of euphoria when you’re with that special someone? That’s your brain releasing oxytocin, dopamine and adrenaline – the body’s feel good chemicals. Interestingly, that high you experience is the same feeling when you take a hit of cocaine.
It happens fast and feels incredible. But how long does it last? Research shows that this feeling is not sustainable, which is why passionate love either dies or develops into companionate love—the type of love between couples who have been together for years.
In The Neurodharma of Love, author Dr Rick Hanson’s background in psychology, science and Buddhist mediations provides the combination of teachings in kindness, compassion, conflict-resolution and forgiveness necessary to sustain our love relationships.
3. Love affects us on an emotional and physical level.
Love is considered a natural painkiller. Due to the analgesic effect love has on the body, it distracts the brain from pain. You know the feeling of your heart racing? Or butterflies in your stomach? That’s your love-struck brain working overtime, sending adrenaline signals to your heart and stomach.
4. Love can reduce fear, anxiety and stress.
There’s no denying that love makes us feel like we’re on top of the world. It makes us stronger, happier and more confident. This is because hugs, cuddling and kissing release oxytocin, a natural mood-boosting chemical.
Well, there you have it. All the more reason to fall head over heels.
Whether you are single or have a special someone this Valentine’s Day, remember to show your loved ones you care. The brain benefits are worth it!