The AURA Match

The 3 stages of love, according to science

Anthropologist and psychologist Helen Fisher, a member of the think tank of the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University, New York, has studied love for forty years and how it affects the brain. According to the scientist, love works like an addiction, in fact, it activates the same areas of the brain as that of a smoker or alcoholic, only that it can be positive when you are in love and everything is going well or a terrible addiction when you are experiencing lack of love.

According to Helen Fisher, based on her studies, love has three fundamental stages: lust, romantic love and mature love, sometimes followed by a fourth stage, of disunity, which would lead to the breakdown of the couple.

Stage 1. Lust

At the beginning of a relationship you feel a strong attraction, a strong sexual desire. It is the profile of the person that fits into our mental map of the ideal couple, a map that has been built over the years in our head, also called the prototype of the ideal couple.

In this stage, the level of some neurotransmitters rises, especially dopamine and norepinephrine, and the level of serotonin falls. It turns out that serotonin is a mood stabilizer and, in addition, to this is added the decrease in activity in the frontal lobe of the brain, which is related to logical reasoning … perhaps that is why it is said that love is blind.

On the other hand, several physiological mechanisms are activated when we find a person who attracts us: the heart beats with more intensity, red blood cells increase in the blood, blood pressure rises and fats and sugars are released that increase muscle capacity.

In addition, it increases the production of adrenaline, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. This produces not only an increase in sexual desire, but also alterations in mood, which basically consist of a fantastic feeling of well-being, great optimism and a tendency to daydream.

Stage 2: Romantic Love

As time passes, other areas of the brain begin to be activated overlapping those active during the previous period.

In this stage of romantic love, the classic feeling of “love drunkenness” arises where one walks “like a fool” for the other. A fixed thought develops in the other person. This occurs because the so-called “love circuit” is activated in the brain, which includes the reward system and the pleasure center of the brain, and this in turn corresponds to the oldest parts of the brain, those that have to do with survival behaviors: feeding, ingesting fluids, reproducing, being protected. Therefore, during romantic love, being with the partner feels like a deep vital need.

From a biochemical point of view, what happens is that, when falling in love, the brain is flooded with a neurotransmitter called phenylethylamine (and that is also in chocolate). This substance causes the generation of dopamine in our brain, the effect of which is that attention is focused on a single object, in this case, on our partner. In addition, it causes lack of sleep, decreased appetite, dilation of the pupils, euphoria and other symptoms commonly associated with feeling in love. Likewise, noradrenaline levels remain high, which has an effect very similar to dopamine, and in addition, serotonin remains at a low level, which causes us to enter repetitive thought cycles, reinforcing this obsession with the other person.

However, according to various studies, this lasts only one to three years. If you are not able to evolve to the next stage, generally the couple ends up separating. That is why statistically, most divorces occur around the fourth year of marriage. Also, there is a much higher chance of this happening between the ages of 25 and 29. Indeed, around 75% of divorces are carried out by people under 40 years of age. And the more children the couple has, the more difficult it is for a divorce to occur. In fact, about 40% of divorces are between childless couples. After all, 80% of those who divorce remarry again!

Stage 3. Mature Love

If the couple manages to overcome this stage, they reach the beautiful phase of marriage or mature love.

Here dopamine levels begin to decrease, so that “obsession” is relaxed, and the affected areas of the brain begin to change. The reward areas of the brain are no longer activated so much, but those related to security and calm.

The neurotransmitters that begin to predominate are oxytocin and vasopressin, which are related and have very similar effects. Of the two, oxytocin is the best known, as it is associated with feelings of trust, generosity and empathy, and it is the same produced during childbirth and is associated with the immense bond between mother and child. Another time when this substance is produced is in orgasm. And that is one of the reasons why, many times, anorgasmia (that is, the lack of orgasm), can lead to a relationship becoming denatured and losing vigor. And although women secrete more oxytocin than vasopressin, and men quite the opposite, the effects in practice are similar: there is a deeper appreciation of the other, there is a bond with the other from an emotional point of view and the agitation of the In the beginning, it gives rise to a deep calm and peace, where the other becomes a point of support and rest. Attachment, tenderness, deep affection predominate. In addition, endorphins are released, producing a sense of calm satisfaction, security and well-being. Love then reaches another level.

This stage lasts at least ten years, and then what sometimes happens is that the cycle starts again. However, if this union has not occurred, by the time the levels of the substances that cause falling in love begin to drop, then the couple may find themselves in difficulties, as both the livid and the obsession with the other collapse. , there will be no where to support the relationship, which can become empty and routine, meaningless. This leads to a fourth period that often lasts for a long time, and that consists of a definitive cooling of the relationship, because the couple no longer has a deep motivation that makes it continue.