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Healthy and Happy Love Relationships. Originally written in 1986, and a free online guide to time-tested attitudes & tips since 2001.

The Physical Causes of Love

MRI Brain Scans Identify Love!

When you're in love, four portions of your brain are stimulated and you literally light up! Neurobiologists at the University College in London, England used MRI brain scans to analyze the brain activity of people experiencing early romantic love. In the tests, four parts of the brain activated significantly when these individuals were shown photos of their love interests. The MRI images were compared to the brain scans of people in other emotional states including sexual arousal, happiness and cocaine-induced euphoria. However, the activity pattern for romantic love was unique because looking at the photo of their loved one also reduced activity in three portions of the brain that are active when someone is either upset or depressed. Can Love Be Addictive? When falling in love the skin flushes, breathing is heavier, and palms become sweaty because the brain is experiencing a biochemical rush of dopamine, norepinephrine and phenylethylamine which are chemically similar to amphetamines. However, tolerance to these stimulating bio-chemicals can occur easily and it therefore takes more of the substance to get that special feeling of infatuation. For this reason some neuroscientists believe that people who jump from one relationship to another have become addicted to the chemicals produced when falling in love. Where long-term romantic love is concerned the mere presence of one's love partner stimulates the production of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are the bio-chemicals behind the experience of "runner's high" and are a naturally-occurring pain-killer in the body. Romantic Biology Research indicates that romantic attraction is actually a primitive, biologically-based drive similar to hunger or thirst. The urge for romance is what causes a person to focus on one particular individual. Therefore this biological need for romance explains why someone would willingly walk several miles for a simple hug from their loved one, or experience enormous despair in the face of later rejection. Research has proven that romantic attraction activates portions of the brain with high concentrations of receptors for dopamine which is the chemical messenger associated with feelings of euphoria, cravings and even addictions. Studies have linked high levels of dopamine (and norepinephrine) to better attention spans and short-term memory, hyperactive behaviour, sleeplessness and also goal-oriented behavior. Therefore when people are falling in love they often exhibit signs of elevated dopamine levels including increased energy, less need for sleep and food, as well as highly focused attention. Love’s Psychology is Blind We’ve all heard the expression that "love is blind" and the chemical factor supports this as it creates an altered state of consciousness and therefore perception. We idealize those we love and overlook the flaws they may possess which paves the way to a long-term relationship because its as respectful as it is forgiving! However if passionate romance acts upon us like a drug it's possible that one can build a resistance it the effects over time. If the relationship has grown in the meantime, and the partners have come to a deeper appreciation of each other, then it’s a good bet that while the chemically-induced may be diminished, it would be replaced with other, deeper and more robust emotions.
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The love of our private friends is the only preparatory exercise for the love of all men. — John Henry Newman