There is a great article in the Washington Post today, Falling in love is all in our brains. The article reviews the neurochemistry of how we fall in love. Our brains produce a “love cocktail” of testosterone, dopamine, oxytocin and vasopressin which all play a role in why we are attracted to and remain connected to our partners.
We review this fascinating research in our Start Right, Stay Connected premarital workshop because it helps explain the natural phases of our committed relationships. We all know the thrill of the romantic phase, that first blush of love when we are so attracted to each other, ready to do anything the other wishes, and a bit crazy with anxiety over when he will call next or if she really likes me. Most of us have also experienced the crash that happens when those love drugs wear off — when what used to attract me begins to irritate me, or I decide to do things my way for once instead of always being so willing to do things YOUR way. Conflict is painful and can quickly overwhelm our loving feelings toward each other. Most couples find themselves in the “Power Struggle” at some point, and it can be helpful to know that this conflict is normal, and even predictable, based on this brain research and lots of other relationship theory and research.
The good news is that connecting safely with your partner can maintain and strengthen your bond for a lifetime. The Post article discusses how successful long-term couples maintain pleasurable, but thankfully less anxious, connections in the brain. It also recommends planning new experiences to share together that can reward the brain, and keep you passionately connected. Sounds like a great reason to start planning something fun for your valentine!