The Impact of Romantic Love on the Brain
Love is a group of psychological behaviors and emotions characterized by emotional intimacy, romance, passion, commitment, caring, and sharing. It usually involves close sharing, attention, security, attraction, trust, intimacy, and affection. Love can range from mildly defined intimacy to intensely intense love, but it also can involve a wide range of negative emotions such as sadness, fear, jealousy, anger, resentment, envy, boredom, anxiety, guilt, and sadness. However, love can change significantly over time and can even develop into a fulfilling relationship.
Romantic love is the most common type of love. It is characterized by deep emotional bonds with another person, often beginning at a young age through enduring primary sexual experiences. These feelings typically endure throughout adulthood, even after one partner has had multiple sexual partners. Romantic love often results in intense feelings of adoration, pride, devotion, trust, safety, or emotional intimacy. A romantic relationship can only grow and intensify with mutual sharing of intimate feelings, which can occur in one-on-one interactions, within a loving partnership, or between friends.
Another type of love is friendship love. This type of love differs from romantic love in that lovers do not spend their time together. Rather, they engage in acts of affection, which may include helping to care for each other, cuddling, kissing, hugging, sharing laughs, sharing meals, touching, kissing, laughing, sharing secrets, playing, or even just being friends. In friendship love, people usually share feelings of intimacy, companionship, trust, security, comfort, enjoyment, and connection. However, they do not have an intimate relationship with each other.
True love means much more than physical attraction or being able to sleep with someone. It involves our capacity to invest deeply in another human being. True love requires us to be faithful to that person, to be true to our own feelings, dreams, beliefs, hopes, and expectations. True love requires the ability to work together as a team.
Our capacity for intimacy and our experience of affection are both positively impacted by having positive emotions. Positive emotions create and enhance our desire to invest in another person, to give love to others, to care about them, to be their friend, to be their lover, etc. In a healthy relationship we are more likely to be in touch with our emotions because our hearts are filled with love and compassion. Emotionally healthy people are happier and healthier. They experience more positive emotions.
The connections that the brain has with one another are also impacted by experiencing romantic love. When we are in romantic love we tend to feel happiness and excitement. We are more attentive to one another’s needs. We become nurturing partners, caring friends, loyal spouses, etc. The emotional consequences of this love are therefore relatively short-lived and transitory compared to the lifelong effects of caring about one another. When we have this kind of love life, the connections we have with one another are sustained and grow stronger over time.