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Chemical Delusion: Why Our Brains Fall in Love

A couple romantically in love.
A couple romantically in love.

If you are someone who has sat through at least one romantic film, then you are aware of the basic cinematic formula for how two people fall in love.

Guy meets girl. Girl plays hard to get. Accepting the challenge, the guy chases after her with a series of crazy ⎯ often-romantic ⎯ antics to win the girl’s affection.

The two get together, and then experience a struggle or conflict that tears them apart. But more often than not, the film ends with them finding their way back to each other.

But why?

What goes on in our brain that links us romantically to another person?

According to WebMD, researchers have examined the human brain and found that the intense surges of romantic love affects the brain in the same way drugs like cocaine or powerful pain relievers do.

“The reason people are so attracted to cocaine is that it activates the area of the brain that makes you feel good,” said researcher Arthur Aron, PhD. “The same reward area is activated when people are experiencing the intense desire of romantic love.”

Experts say that romantic love is one of the most powerful emotions a person can experience. Humans’ brains are programmed to choose a mate ⎯ and when they do ⎯ they can sometimes find themselves going to great lengths to win the other person's affection.

“You can feel happy when you’re in love, but also anxious at the same time,” Aron said. “The other person becomes a goal in life … essentially a prize.”

But once you’ve won over that person’s love, does that euphoric feeling suddenly diminish?

Aron and his team of researchers looked at MRI scans of 10 women and seven men who were married for an average of 21 years and claimed that they were still intensively in love with their partners.

The researchers also found that in each of these couples, brain regions were also activated when they were shown photographs of their partners.

“For most people, the standard pattern is a gradual decline of passionate love, but a growth in bonding,” Aron said.

Love is an emotion that can wreak havoc on your mind and body. It has the ability to make us laugh, cry, angry, and more often than not ⎯ make the sanest person contemplate suicide more than once a month.

What it boils down to is whether two people are in love enough to endure the hardships that relationships sometimes bring. It’s not always laughter and wild sex ⎯ other times it’s financial woes, people striving to change things about themselves that the other person might not agree with, but must be prepared for.

But if you can wake up every morning and look over at your partner, and feel the same way you did the day you two first met, then all those issues in your relationship become minor ⎯ and worth fighting for.

So be strong.

And most importantly ⎯ be patient.

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