The most damaging myth about love is the belief that love can touch us one time and lasts for a lifetime. While society pushes this belief, medical science research shows us a different scheme for love.
Love actually happens in four phases: mate selection, falling in love (or “romance”), falling out of love, and true love. Here’s what each phase actually looks like.
1. Mate selection.
This phase begins at birth and continues until you select a mate and fall in love. This is the phase during which you form the “person of your dreams” idea in your mind. It is based on genes and inherited brain programs. We use vision, hearing, smell, and probably some other unconscious senses that we might not be aware of to select a partner. This selection is done mostly by a system called the limbic brain. It is our unconscious brain. It works on its own. The new brain, or conscious brain, contributes as well, but it is only part of the selection process.
2. Falling in love.
This is the second and the most exciting phase of love. This is the phase when your heart beats fast, you lose sleep, and feel euphoric when you see your beloved. You may obsess over that loved one. It is based on at least four brain chemicals, called monoamines, namely epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. Epinephrine causes the anxious feeling, rapid heartbeats, jealousy, fear, and the strong recall of love emotional experiences.
Norepinephrine causes the increased attention to our partner and the loss of sleep. Dopamine causes the joy we feel with love, stimulates our sex drive, and makes us perceive our partner as perfect, even if they are not. It makes us believe the impossible will happen. Serotonin acts like a maestro, coordinating the activity of the other brain systems mentioned earlier. We all wrongly believe that romantic phase of love should last for a lifetime. In reality, it does not.
3. Falling out of love.
The brain chemicals responsible for falling in love return to their baseline level of functioning about two years after it begins. At that time, we lose the illusions, delusions, and euphoria of falling in love. We discover that we were unable to see the reality about our mate, and we conclude then that “love is blind.” However, this is not the end of love as some people believe. It is the phase between romance chemicals (monoamines) decreasing and the beginning of the true love phase that is based on another set of brain chemicals called nonapeptides—namely oxytocin and vasopressin. Falling out of love has benefits, too. Without falling out of love, we cannot fall in love again.
4. True love.
True love should be our goal—not romance. The effect of nonapeptide chemicals is longer-lasting than monoamines, which can cause the loving feeling to last for a lifetime. These chemicals cause strong bonding with one partner only. They also alter our perception of our mate—we see them as the most attractive one around. These chemicals promote trust, calmness, and a harmonious marital relationship. Nonapeptides cause you to forget the pain of falling out of love or never even recall that it happened.
There are many natural ways to enhance and encourage the true love phase, some of which include:
This is the ability to see ourselves objectively from the outside in. If you have this skill, it will help you see what you did right and what you did wrong so you can correct the wrongs and repeat the rights.
Couples with more intimacy have more nonapeptides released, which causes stronger true love.
You must have the courage to try new things even though you are not sure that your partner will like it. Without courage, we cannot grow love.
This happens automatically as you have more nonapeptides. These chemicals make you fail to see the faults of your partner and only see their assets. You will naturally cooperate with them. But, early in the true love phase, cooperation helps release more nonapeptides.
You must succeed in controlling the primitive brain’s urge for sex with many partners. You cannot nourish a loving relationship unless you can control this primitive urge.
When you trust your partner, you will feel less threatened by other competing potential partners. This trust helps feed the true love experience.
Spread the word—love isn’t what it seems. What we coin as “love” in society is just romance, which doesn’t last forever. True love is scientifically possible and requires you to keep moving past the first three phases of love. True love is science-based, and learning how it works can make your love life a whole lot happier.