Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Romantic Love CAN Endure

“True love almost always fades, but money stays green forever.” That’s a quote from the 1957 Cary Grant movie, Kiss Them For Me. Yes, it’s a cynical sentiment, but it’s also a belief quite prevalent in our world. So many clients say to me that they don’t know if they will ever find lasting love because they don’t know if such a thing even exists.

For those who want to believe in the “happily ever after” story in time for Valentine’s Day, here’s some good news. A series of studies have found that romantic love does not necessarily wither like sun-parched crabgrass and convert to boredom over time. In fact, science actually has found a way to measure the love response in the brain to prove this point. A new study out of Stony Brook University in New York hooked up subjects who had been in a relationship for varying lengths of time to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners while the subjects looked at photos of friends, strangers, and the one they loved. The results showed that when they saw the photo of their partner, the newly infatuated couples and those still in love after 20-plus years had similar brain responses.

“We found many very clear similarities between those who were in love long-term and those who had just fallen madly in love,” said study director Dr. Arthur Aron. Whether the subject was newly in love or still in love after many years, the reward and motivation centers of the brain were stimulated as well as the area of the brain associated with addiction to substances like cocaine upon seeing the photo.

Other studies provide solid evidence that long-term love really does exist. According to research led by Bianca Acevedo and published in the Review of General Psychology last year, at least 13 percent of couples still experienced strong feelings of romantic love after being with their partner for more than 10 years. This research reviewed 25 previous studies on relationships lasting anywhere from a few months to many years, and found the main difference between new relationships and happy long-term relationships was that the obsessive component tended to diminish over time, but the intensity, engagement and sexual chemistry remained strong.

All research indicates that it isn’t mere luck that creates the magic of lasting love—it’s hard work. Those who stay in love, says Bianca Acevedo, “… are often very relationship focused. Their relationship is something that is very central to their lives, something they spend time on, work on, really care about.”

But the real key to romantic endurance was perhaps best expressed by William Shakespeare, without the help of scientific studies endorsed by universities: “Love is not love that alters when it alteration finds… Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come: Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom."

Blessings and Happy Valentine's Day in Advance,
Hiyaguha, The Life-Change Coach

No comments: