Is this much-fêted emotion really so mysterious? We separate the facts from the fallacies when it comes to lurv.
Love always starts with lust: false
Scientists at Rutgers University in New Jersey studied fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans of the brains of couples in love. Their finding? There are three core brain systems for mating and reproduction—the testosterone system triggering sexual desire, the dopamine-rich regions of the brain promoting romantic attraction and the oxcytocin-related region prompting feelings of long-term commitment.
It seems these brain systems don’t work in any particular order, so you could fall in love starting with lust or even with deep feelings of attachment—when you fall for a friend, say.
We fall in love with the way someone looks first: false
The things that make us lose our heart are complex.
Looks certainly play a part, but we draw up our own mental list of what we’re looking for in a long-term partner, from personality traits to their background. There are also differences between the sexes.
Several studies suggest that men are more interested in beauty and vitality, while women prioritise intelligence, self-confidence and social position. But the bottom line is when we meet someone who ticks the right boxes, then you’re going to be in the mood for romance.
You can fall in love at first sight: true
According to research from Syracuse University in New York, the process of falling in love uses 12 areas of the brain and takes as little as a fifth of a second!
But how quickly you fall in love is determined by genetics (how quickly did your parents fall head over heels?) and past experience (the once-bitten-twice-shy principle).
You can keep the magic alive forever: true
US researchers carried out brain scans on couples who’d been together for 21 years on average and who claimed to be just as in love after that time as they were at the beginning.
The scientists found that a small part of the brain was as active as it would be if the lovers had just been swept off their feet. But to stay in love it’s important to keep doing new things together—go travelling, take up a new hobby, have an adventure.
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