Hello again everyone!
After the long wait, I am back again for another research round on everyone's favourite subject: love. Once again, if you are interested in reading my previous rounds of research on this topic, you can use the links below to do so
Research Round 1
Research Round 2
This week, I am going to look at...
- What does love do to the brain?
- What does love do to our personalities?
- How does love impact us?
- When in love, why do we do things we would not normally do?
Let's get right into it!
I've looked a little into what love does to the brain (releasing different chemicals, creating an "addiction" to the person we are in love with, making us feel good when we are around/in contact with our romantic interest), but I want to dive a little deeper.
First, I looked into Helen Fisher's Ted Talk called The Brain in Love. Here are the notes I gathered from her talk, and I will insert the video below if you're interested in viewing it yourself. (2)
- Anthropologists have found evidence of love in 170 societies, and have yet to find a society without love
- In a study of college students, almost 95% of men and women said that yes, they had both been dumped by someone they truly loved and dumped someone who really truly loved them
- Romantic love gives the same high that you get when high on cocaine (from dopamine bursts), but people do not come down from their romantic high how they do from the cocaine one
- Romantic love is an obsession that possesses you (you lose yourself to love) and can get worse after rejection
- People who were had just been dumped experienced activity in the same brain region that is active when experiencing romantic love (you love even after being dumped, and this brain section actually becomes more active after being dumped)
- People who had been just dumped also experienced activity in the part that is used to measure risks/assess gains and losses (you're assessing what went wrong, seeing where you messed up, and figuring out how to get them back)
- These recently dumped people also experienced activity in the section associated with deep attachment to other individuals (even after having your heart broken by this person, you're still deeply attached to them)
- Thus, after being dumped you have intense focus, motivation, and passion, and you are more willing than ever to risk it all
- Romantic love can be an addiction--wonderful when going well, horrible when going wrong
- Has three characteristics of addiction: tolerance (you see them once, you want to see them more and more and more), withdrawals (you hate being apart), and relapses (your feelings can be reborn unexpectedly from little to no provoking)
- Animals experience love too --> they have favourites, they're selective about mates
- People can still be in love with their mates 25 years after marriage
- There are many reasons you fall in love with one person over another, but no one has ever found exactly how two people fit together with one another
- Fisher is researching (with her dating site chemistry.com) to see if biology is the main pull in how we fall in love (do our levels of estrogen, testosterone, serotonin, and dopamine determine who we fall in love with?)
Nice. A lot of what Fisher mentions in her Ted Talk is supported by what I covered in my previous rounds, such as that love is an addiction, it gives us a high like cocaine, and no one really knows why we fall in love.
Love releases a number of hormones, causing symptoms such as an intense desire, a racing heart, feelings of euphoria, sweaty palms, and the "lovers' high". (3,2) Moreover, love even makes one's blood pump, increasing blood flow to the brain's pleasure centre (or the "nucleus accumbens"). (3) Love also drops levels of serotonin, allowing people to display single-mindedness for their romantic interest, but it can also render individuals blind to the negative qualities of their partner or interest. (3,1) Oxytocin helps to create a feeling of well-being, trust, and security while the addiction that Fisher and many others talk about (the tolerance, withdrawals, and relapses) is developed. (3,2,1,7,9)
Seeing an attractive face engages the same part of the brain pain killers such as morphine does, and that's the opioid system. A study has shown recently that men given doses of morphine rated women's faces as being more attractive compared to the ratings men without morphine did. This suggests the opioid system can be rigged or to perceive attractiveness. (3)
In terms of what love does to your personality, love renders you happier yet more anxious, addicted, capable of taking greater risks, confident, overprotective, distracted (so bad at focusing on something other than your romantic interest), less judgemental, smarter, and it can even make you unlearn negative, neurotic, anxious, or depressed thoughts. Love can even impair your judgement and make you do wild things you maybe never would have considered. (4,1,2,3,7)
Outside of these immediate or minor changes, love makes you prone to self-change in order to impress or expand for a partner. Psychology today says that healthy relationships involve self-expansion, meaning that you undergo positive self-growth to become a richer, more positive person than you were before meeting your other half. Not only do these healthy relationships push you to perform better habits, but they can also lessen your poor habits. Inversely, unhealthy relationships can make you a worse person, pulling you towards unhealthy, crude, or anxious habits and behaviours. Moreover, relationships can lead to self-constriction as individuals become more tightly knit to their partner. People can lose some of the favourable qualities of their personality, become less trusting, and even less friendly. (5)
Moreover, why does love make people so foolish? When around significant others, researchers have found a fresh romance may actually diminish or deplete cognitive resources. The study conducted involved fifty-one individuals who were all involved in new romantic relationships (six months or less) being asked to differentiate important from irrelevant information in the shortest time possible. They performed the test after listening to romantic music (used to elicit thoughts of their partner and feelings of love) and before completing a survey assessing the intensity of love they felt for their significant other. The study found a direct correlation between poor performance and how crazy in love they were. The less in love, the better the performance. (6) Thus, one can assume love depletes one's ability to focus and multitask as their brain space is overrun by their significant other. (6,1,4) However, this feeling (or the "honeymoon" phase) does not last forever, and it eventually matures out. (6)
Not only does being in love make people foolish, it also drives them crazy. Why? Because they're scared. When in a fresh relationship, it's easy to jump straight to the conclusion that your partner must hate you because they haven't responded to your text in 3 hours. Though it might be too early in the relationship for certainty about how they feel about you at all, you let yourself jump to such a vast conclusion because you're scared. The best advice Dena Domenicali-Rochelle (the author of this article) has is to learn to let yourself be content with "I don't know", and try not to be overwhelmed by your panic. (13)
So, how do you make sure love doesn't get the best of you? Stop forcing yourself to stop doing dumb things through sheer will. No, instead you should embrace the idea of if-then planning. This planning is used for dieting, exercising, and even quitting smoking. It involves deciding in advance just how you will handle your impulses. For example, deciding that "if I want to call that person I'm obsessed with, then I will stop and ring a good friend instead." This planning system is superb at helping people resist their temptations. (8) Don't feel like you need to resist liking someone, though, of course.
Just for fun, here are a couple of sites you can use to look a little more into your love, the kind of people you will probably gravitate towards, and who is "perfect for you".
https://www.truity.com/persona...test-results/7470334 (this one is really cool! it takes into account your personality type--which can be found here if you don't have it--alongside some questionnaire answers)
(1) - https://www.scientificamerican...in-in-love-graphsci/
(2) - https://www.ted.com/talks/hele.../up-next?language=en
(3) - https://www.livescience.com/43...fects-the-brain.html
(4) - https://psychcentral.com/blog/...ts-your-personality/
(5) - https://www.psychologytoday.co...n-change-who-you-are
(6) - https://www.elitedaily.com/dat...-love-stupid/1326172
(7) - https://classroom.synonym.com/...id-things-22853.html
(8) - https://www.psychologytoday.co...e-making-you-foolish
(9) - https://www.quickanddirtytips....e-your-brain-on-love
(10) - img - https://www.wikihow.com/Fall-in-Love-and-Stay-in-Love
(11) - img - http://www.austinmarriageandco...at-is-love-addiction
(12) - https://www.psychologytoday.co...e-can-make-you-crazy
Thank you guys for reading! Next week I am going to look off the tracks and look a little into...
- What do old folk tales and wives' tales write love as?
- How has love evolved?
- Personal stories of love, what are some of the similarities, how do these personal recollections vary?
See you guys around