It's all about "true love," according to the neurologist Dr. Fred Nour. In his new book, "True Love: How to Use Science to Understand Love," Dr. Nour uses science to explain how men and women fall in love and either stay in love or discover they've never loved each another in the first place.
The process consists of four phases:
- Mate selection: Mostly unconscious, instinct is the guide. Men and women are attracted to each other on a basic biological level as their bodies sense that the mixture of genes would result in a healthy child.
- Romance and falling in love: In this phase, "love is blind." A man and woman see one another not as they are but as they imagine them to be. "Monoamines"--neurological chemicals--create a rush when the man and woman are together or even just thinking about the other. These intense feelings dissipate over a period of a couple of years, "priming" the man and woman for true love as the romance dissipates.
- Falling out of romantic love: Every couple experiences this stage. When the "rush" dissipates, the man and woman can become alarmed as a spouse no longer generates physical stimulii, like the pulse racing, face flushing, and knees weakening. According to Dr. Nour, this is decision time: See one's spouse for what he or she really is and decide if you made the right choice. This is all due to Mother Nature, Dr. Nour maintains. As the chemicals that give the euphoria dissipate, reality emerges, and it's time to re-evaluate.
Note well: Couples who chase after romance and divorce have fallen out of love and will never experience true love in their relationship. Interestingly, Dr. Nour maintains, if a couple doesn't fall out of love, neither spouse will be able to fall in love with someone else because the human brain is programmed to love one person at a time. (Hmmm....Could that explain paramours and "we remain good friends"?)
- True love: Once the passion ends and the spouses have decided they're right for each other, they're on the pathway to discovering true love. But, it takes time...normally one or two years. In this phase, other neurological chemicals--nonapeptides--drive spouses to develop a deep and lasting bond. This is Nature’s way to keep spouses together to raise their children to adulthood, ensuring a happier, stronger, and long-lasting relationship characterized by true love.
Well, this is all very interesting, indeed.
For The Motley Monk, the big "take away" is that married couples need to be prepared for as well as understand the "falling out of romantic love" phase. Not "getting it," it's all too easy to walk away and look for romance in all of the wrong places and never experience true love.
Let the discussion begin...