Much of the distress and the delight in our lives begins with a glance, a kiss, and then… a lifelong dance to master the verb to love. Did you know that 85% of Americans will marry by age 46? Advances in neuroscience and research on relationship and marital satisfaction show that as social beings our brains are hard-wired to crave a deep level of emotional attachment and intimacy. Our need for close, loving relationships is not only universal but necessary for our sense of security and well-being. As it turns out, being in a relationship isn’t just about the pursuit of love. It’s about developing and maintaining healthy habits that keep love alive and allow us, therefore, to achieve a healthy, wealthy, and happy life overall.
- Love: A Cascade of Hormones
Love activates the reward center in our brain which in turn releases a cascade of hormones. Dopamine, the pleasure chemical in the brain, triggers euphoria and increased energy. Norepinephrine produces the racing heart and excitement. Endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, increase while serotonin drops, creating obsession over your new love.
The mother love—oxytocin – is the hormone released at childbirth and while nursing, bonding mother and child. Oxytocin is dubbed the love or cuddle hormone and is credited for leading us to prosocial behaviors. Oxytocin and vasopressin released through physical touch and during sex—for both men and women—produce a general sense of well-being, feeling soothed, peaceful and secure. These hormones increase trust, leading to deeper attachment to one another and attribute to helping men (who have a higher concentration of testosterone) to be faithful and monogamous.
The chemical reaction of love produces an attachment and dependency on your mate and prepares you for devotion to one another. Making your partner feel happy and secure in your love and vice versa provides new steps in your dance.
- Love & Our Attachment Needs
To make someone unique and special in our hearts is part of our hard-wired security system. Couples “in love” feel as two individuals who have merged with one another. They share a deep connection and feelings of closeness and trust. When love is expressed fully, we see the other person as they truly are and conversely, they see into us. This sense of transparency and deep friendship makes us feel understood, gives us comfort, and strengthens our sense of safety. Love bridges a sense of belonging and purpose, aiding in better defining our sense of self and our identity.
When we find love, it quenches a thirst deep inside affirming we were never meant to be alone but to be with our soul mate, our life partner. We think in terms of “us” vs. “me”. The special connection and bond with our mate is sacred. We value and protect it.
When our attachment needs—to be seen and heard, and for connection, affection, emotional support and appreciation— go unmet, it creates distress. When we feel unappreciated, insecure, misunderstood, blamed, or abandoned, we react —with anger, defensiveness, and distance. Responding with more understanding, appreciation, and compassion to one another’s attachment needs improve your dance.
- Love & Companionship
Trust is one of the cornerstones of ANY relationship. When we establish trust and companionship, we are able to let our guard down and feel comfortable in the care of another. We can rely on our partner fully. When trust is broken, it is severely damaging and hard to overcome. To establish and maintain an unshakable trust and bond, it’s important to make the relationship a priority.
Building a friendship where you like to play together, embrace challenges together, and accept influence from one another is essential. Expressing five appreciations or affirmations to every one criticism advances your tango.
- Love & Sex
Married couples who have sex more often address their partner with more positive regard. Sex encourages self-disclosure, which in turn allows you to become closer to your partner. Knowing your partner more intimately – physically and emotionally – further increases the desire to foster richness in your relationship. Sex triggers the cascade of love hormones, creating a closed circuit of knowing and being known. Perhaps this is why couples happily married for a long time will say, “I love her more today than when I married her.” These words don’t refer to the initial high of falling in love but to a deeper, richer bond nurtured through their time, intimacy and commitment.
Love is not only part of securing our survival, but of our thriving as individuals and as a society. My goal is to educate and empower you with the tools needed to enrich your marriage and relationships. You’re wired to give and receive Fearless Love!
From Love Trauma To Fearless Love: 7 Tango Steps for Breaking Free From Narcissists and Predators
Download the Free Excerpt: Lovetrauma.com.