What is Love More Than a Feeling?
It gives us comfort enchants us and makes us yearn to merge and become one with another person love a powerful emotion perhaps even the most powerful of all.
Lepus clucks love is happiness sorrow jealousy sexual desire the kind of love that we humans experience doesn’t exist in the same way other animals it’s very interesting to investigate why love in this intensity only developed in humans and mentioned the winter dynamics I think it’s important not to reserve the word love for romantic relationships but to see how it plays out in everyday interaction people think of love as a very passive experience you just fall into love or you fall out of love and in a way that’s very immature and irresponsible because if you’re trying to make a partnership work with someone you want to understand a little bit about how love works that’s exactly what scientists around the world want to find out what exactly is love what happens in our hearts and brains and how can you make love last a lifetime.
Love is a basic need as babies we experience it for the first time parental love is instinctual and unconditional in the best case scenarios mothers and fathers love everything about their babies the way they look the way they smell the sounds they make for a mother being close to her child can eclipse all other needs this is biologically pre-programmed because human babies cannot survive without parental care for them parental love is as important as food and drink here’s baby 106 the American psychologist Harry Harlow proved this in the 1950s with controversial experiments in which he separated baby monkeys from their mothers now we’ll take the baby monkey out and put in a wire mother parlor wanted to prove the importance of caregiving and companionship the monkeys were fed from a bottle of milk hanging from a wire mother a second mother had a face and a fur coat but no milk the monkeys briefly went to the milk mother to drink but spent the rest of their time with their cuddly fur mother the monkeys that grew up in isolation later showed signs of severe psychological distress these experiments demonstrated for the first time how vital love companionship and nurturing are for infants researchers today employ less cruel techniques to find out how important love is for babies for example by analyzing their saliva when a child feels stressed or anxious the stress hormone cortisol can be found in its saliva Jonah and her mother hikky are taking part in a so-called still face test in which the mother is not allowed to show her child any affection for two minutes it’s contest and now comes the still face the mother turns away and the child suddenly notices that the mother is no longer responding and this can be a stressor for the baby so now we’ll analyze how the child responds it gets done at one.
From darkman we can see that the child feels that too much time has passed without a response and she’s not happy about it and when the mother is responsive to her baby’s emotions then the child knows if I’m sad if I’m angry my mother will be there for me there are studies that show that there are links between this early mother-child interaction and the capacity to bond in later life want a banana hide invite only so our experience of love during early infancy shapes our ability to form meaningful relationships later in life but there are some mothers who cannot feel love for their babies for example because of postpartum depression the researchers want to find out which factors influence the maternal bond by using brain scans to determine the blood flow to the reward center in the mother’s brain they can measure maternal love super when you’re ready we’ll start the neurofeedback task I’m ready okay let’s start the researchers see the same baby photos as the mother lying in the MRI scanner a gauge shows how strongly the mother’s reward center is activated the mother sees it too which allows her to assess the strength of her maternal bond this process is called neurofeedback here we can see that she’s able to regulate her emotions and bring them into the green zone.
So she’s a mother with a strong bond but for a mother with a weak bond this is hard that’s where we can use neurofeedback to train brain functions that are hypoactive meaning not active enough and give them a boost using the power of her brain the mother learns how to enhance the parent-child bond and gets immediate feedback it’s a way to practice love if she exercises her brain like a muscle over time this behavior becomes automatic maybe the next time she sees a picture of her baby she won’t need a strategy the bond will kick in instinctively we can practice love thanks to the biology of our brains our feelings are regulated by hormones and neurotransmitters and it seems we can affect how they’re released the idea that you can influence such a complex process like feelings of attachment and bonding by regulating your psycho biology is something I find extremely fascinating the substance that intrigued scientists like Beata dixon is called oxytocin it can be administered as a nasal spray but it’s mainly produced by the body itself oxytocin is a chemical substance produced in the brain this neural hormone helps create the feeling of love that’s why awk cytosin is also called the cuddle chemical via the bloodstream it carries its biochemical message throughout the body priming it for affection tenderness and Trust.
Oxytocin was discovered in 1906 as the hormone that triggers labor then scientists realized that it was also involved in lactation breastfeeding today we know that oxytocin also plays a role in the maternal bond and in caretaking behaviors scientists say that oxytocin regulates our social interactions and thus ensures the survival of our species the hormone isn’t only found in humans but also in other social animals including worms ants and rats humans studying oxytocin and human is a like studying of pandora boxx we don’t know what is going in the brain of humans and to understand physiological role of oxytocin of course you need the models and the best model would be social animals in these rats the researchers control the release of oxytocin with considerable effects on the social behavior of the animals if you stimulate oxytocin they became more social they interact basically all the time than the selves oxytocin cells release oxytocin sniffing stroking cuddling researchers still know little about what triggers the release of oxytocin but one thing they do know is that without this hormone rats would be less social and humans wouldn’t fall in love infatuation is like a biochemical explosion and oxytocin sends lovers hearts racing quite literally because the heart is particularly susceptible to its effects recent studies show that it can even produce the hug hormone itself but love creates even greater chaos in the brain here it flicks so many biochemical switches that acute infatuation actually resembles a psychotic disorder.
When it comes to our brains crazy and love isn’t too far from the truth the neurobiologist lucy brown says that love is more than a feeling love is a drive like hunger and thirst and what’s more love really does make us blind it’s the front of the brain that is constantly judging other people just as you walk down the street you see someone coming towards you you may notice their shoes you may notice how they walk is their hair long how unusual are they you were constantly engaged in social judgments people who are in the early stages of romantic love when we look at the functional activity shut this part of the brain down you you just don’t engage in social judgments of the person you’re in love with you shut the you shut off that judgment during infatuation the evolutionarily primitive structures of our brain take over it’s here that all these hormones are produced that influence our behaviors so profoundly that love can feel out of our control it may seem irrational for love to switch off common sense but for evolutionary biologist Tomas Luca the craziness of love makes sense evolutionarily speaking a sister view Lucas as I enjoy dick de Leeuw from a biological viewpoint it’s fairly clear romantic love developed to benefit our offspring think about even in a group of hunter-gatherers it takes three four or five years for a child to be able to keep up with the group during this time the men have to provide shelter and food and they will only do that if they have an emotional attachment to both the child and the woman I thought we’d have four.
But why her why him why are we attracted to some people but not others at first it’s all about looks in the blink of an eye we scan our potential partner and collect information about their age health mood and social status men have an eye for women with symmetrical faces large eyes full lips high foreheads and of course female proportions men usually find young healthy women attractive in men women look for a strong chin broad shoulders narrow hips and quite often signs of social status but in the end the chemistry has to be in sync and that has a lot to do with scent our nose is not as easily fooled as our eyes as this test demonstrates this student couple is taking part in an experiment everyone brings a t-shirt they wore overnight the test subjects are now offered five t-shirts worn by strangers plus that of their partner they have to evaluate which scent they find attractive people can sniff out other people’s immune systems and tend to select a mate whose immune genetics are different and complementary to their own that way nature ensures that offspring have a robust immune system the study confirmed the assumption that heterosexual women tend to sniff out this genetic difference more easily than men who don’t seem to have a nose for it by – the so um just a match for a man the genetic parameters don’t seem to matter that’s not what he bases it on the typical man likes the smell of his partner.
Because that’s a smell that’s familiar to him and interestingly the longer a man is with a woman the more he likes her smell so it’s the woman who gets a whiff of whether the man is a good genetic match or not unless she’s on the pill there’s an older study from 1995 which showed that women who were on the pill assess the genetic compatibility of a man differently from women who aren’t I spent initially put up in Watson our study confirms this women who were on the pill behave similarly to men in behind man only this means they don’t really care about genetic similarity anymore however scientists can’t say whether hormonal contraception influences a woman’s choice of partner but the first-kiss does seem to serve as a kind of litmus test studies show that women often say that they could tell by a kiss whether their partner was suitable for a long-term relationship women seem to be pickier than men perhaps because of the risks associated with pregnancy and childbearing during kissing the partners instinctively exchange biological messages in a flash our brain has to evaluate vast amount of information how does the other person smell and taste are their lips soft or rough the kiss hard or tender happiness hormones fled the body and through his saliva the man infuses the woman with testosterone which increases her desire sex is a love booster sex hormones reduce anxiety and stress blood pressure and heart rate go up just like during exercise that’s why sex is good for the cardiovascular system it might also strengthen the immune system by exposing it to foreign body fluids in short sex is much more than just reproduction.
What’s striking is that humans have sex much more often than they have children around 1,000 times more often yes, of course, indicates that sexuality has another purpose it gives you a much more intense and intimate knowledge of the other person and later on the shared desire the shared pleasure helped cement the relationship for being known as no stubble easier finding the right partner has been a bit of hit and miss over the years but that might be changing.
More and more singles are now meeting online rather than at parties in the pub or at work in the 21st century dating has gone digital Bianca and Mark met online and have been together for 14 years at that time Bianca was working a lot and didn’t have much time for socializing mark was working abroad but wanted to return to Germany I was living in Hong Kong and I found it hard to meet people there so I opened an account on a German dating site both of us had just ended long term relationships and didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes my relationship had failed because we weren’t a good match about things like family children buying a house getting a job mark and Bianca met each other because of this man who goes mala the psychologist believes that two things in life should be carefully planned finding the right job and finding the right partner so he developed a vocational aptitude test and a personality test for an online dating site my original idea was not to identify the ideal partner but to avoid the big mistakes in life it’s often much better to try and avoid mistakes than to look for perfection based on that principle who gosh mala developed a partnership test it’s a comprehensive computer questionnaire that tries to capture personality traits that play into a good and lasting relationship you need to know who you are to know what you want that’s what we call a partner profile for you and it’s mention it includes more than a hundred questions about character traits and personal preferences but also includes questions and images that seem odd at first for example the question of whether a broken heart affects your appetite SM is light and soft soon food is passion weight loss or gain are related to strong emotional states somebody who doesn’t lose or gain weight when they’re unhappy is not a very passionate person according to WHO Ghosh mala both partners must be equally passionate otherwise there are poor match but can something as complex as love be predicted like this optically did a fukken whether two people hit it off is up to them we are only increasing the chances of that happening so meeting someone is digital but loving is still analog analog.
Mark and Bianca exchanged messages four weeks before they met for the first time we met at the Hamburg Airport I was wearing a really cool glittering golden no silver suit Janka really like that you walked up and kissed me right away and that was, of course, we’d known each other for a long time that was a bit much but okay we knew each other so well already our character traits at least figured if the personal side of things were also a match if we liked each other scent and taste and whatnot it was clear to me that we might end up getting married and having children together but Bianca wasn’t on the same page yet exactly I wasn’t ready yet I got ahead of things during those first moments I thought this is not really what I had in mind but I went along with it because I knew that our personalities were a match today mark and Bianca are happily married and have three children so in their case the algorithm certainly seems to have helped them find a match.
Scientists are just beginning to study online dating and its impact on love like sexual therapist Melanie Bhootnath fen human Ken Lana saw some possibilities when I meet someone in a club or at a dinner party with friends I noticed a lot of things about that person I see how they act how they move their facial expressions how do they speak how do they smell of them with all of my senses on all channels maybe even before we talk to each other and that’s what’s so different about online dating that’s why we say that online dating profiles reduce three-dimensional people to two-dimensional displays of information somewhat ironically despite the rise of online dating the traditional model of marriage seems to be enjoying a kind of second wind yes marriage is still in the number of marriages has declined since the 1950s but since the turn of the millennium the number has remained constant that’s the number of relationships that end has declined in recent years this means that the long-term relationship as an institution as an ideal is still very important to us.
But that’s not true for every country in Japan, for example, 21st-century lifestyles have given rise to a new trend many Japanese women fantasize about the perfect wedding but what they want is the celebration, not the spouse that’s the idea behind solo weddings a wedding starring only the bride and no one else this is the right time for me now on the right age I don’t want to have to wait to wear a wedding dress I can do it now if I like and it’s important to me I don’t necessarily have to have a husband it’s not like my soul won’t rest in peace if I don’t end up finding the right partner studies show that half of all Japanese under the age of 30 have never had sex or romantic partnership in Japan love has fallen out of favor maybe that’s because a relationship can become routine this usually happens after about two years emotional turmoil turns into tranquility some couples separate.
But others enter a new phase of love support and security become more important than grand passion love might not be as exciting anymore but it becomes healthier people in functioning relationships are sick less often and eat a more balanced diet although they don’t necessarily eat less still studies show that a stable relationship helps protect against cardiovascular disease touch helps reduce stress and lowers the heart rate and blood pressure and kissing might even help with hay fever once again it’s oxytocin that helps account for many of these health benefits administered to couples as a nasal spray oxytocin even helps them argue less men via Papa could be the we asked couples to argue in the lab and oxytocin actually influenced their behavior they behaved more positively in these conflicts our latest research focuses on these positive effects conflicts aren’t the only thing that determined the quality of a partnership but we do want to investigate whether this might be used as a kind of intervention how can our behavior influenced our oxytocin levels then perhaps influence things like wound healing or stress level in a recent study scientists investigated whether oxytocin makes wounds heal faster first they inflicted small burns on the forearms of both partners normally burns like this take a week to heal.
So do they heal faster when a loving partner is at your side and an oxytocin spray speed up healing one partner receives oxytocin-the other a placebo a week later the result is I opening the oxytocin spray appears to have made the man be more nurturing towards his partner and her wounds healed more quickly this might be because oxytocin reduces stress levels the scientists regularly tested the participant’s saliva for cortisol it’s a hormone that our bodies release in response to stress but oxytocin seems to interfere with this mechanism what the data shows is that when the study participants took oxytocin their cortisol levels were lower that could be the reason why oxytocin has an influence on wound healing so love can actually have healing powers the biochemical benefits of oxytocin can make our lives not only happier but also healthier.
But love can also hurt the loss of love or the loss of a loved one can cause profound grief and emotional suffering Hardik can even lead to what is known as broken heart syndrome and it can even be fatal the symptoms are similar to a heart attack the affected person suddenly suffers heart failure women after menopause are most at risk Elizabet Pompey Lee almost died a broken heart syndrome a year ago she lost her partner his death brought back memories of a terrible accident 20 years earlier Guevara after 90 in 1998 an airplane went down in Halifax my daughter was working as a flight attendant on that plane it was a terrible shock it was so sudden I had to keep going because my husband was totally devastated our daughter was gone so I had to be very strong dark sign shortly after the death of her daughter her husband passed away due to cancer and when Elizabeth’s new partner died a year ago her heart finally broke happy my neck dr. Kelly, I loved my daughter I loved my husband and I loved my partner and then I lost all three I’m not the only person in the world who’s lost someone but then you have to try to cope but her heart was unable to cope when she was admitted to hospital
Her doctors thought she was having a heart attack but the test results came as a surprise Elizabeth’s coronary arteries were not blocked her heart had stopped working normally for a different reason broken heart syndrome the disease causes a kind of cardiomyopathy the heart muscle doesn’t work the way it should as a result the heart no longer pumps enough blood into the body broken heart syndrome is a disease where emotions Beard love positive or negative emotions first arise in the head and then affect the heart we don’t know exactly why we believe that there’s a stress response that originates in the brain and then affects the heart that’s calmed and this probably triggers some kind of micro circulation disorder which then causes this characteristic ventricular dysfunction today Elizabeth Pompey Lee’s heart is functioning normally again and she’s even found a new love gets Benny keen on a little manpower my partner and I are at an age where we both know that something would happen to either one of us at any moment target pasión can but we tell ourselves to enjoy life I don’t ask myself what will happen tomorrow or the day after it’s no use you have to live life and enjoy each day as it comes Ethan the daily grind often puts love to the test arguments and complaints replace desire and tenderness always the same old fights over the same old things in Seattle a team of researchers are investigating such conflicts at the Godman Institute’s love lab cari Cole helps couples to better manage their disagreements the psychologist has helped hundreds of couples.
And remains convinced that love can last a lifetime oh absolutely my parents were married for a fifty eight and a half years and my father died and he was her knight in shining armor and she was his princess that’s the way it always was so I do believe in that I do believe that it’s important the way that we speak to people and treat people is very important Lori and Jeff have been together for more than 20 years but they feel that the deep love and passion they once shared has started to fade or the next eight hours cari Cole will observe Lori and Jeff’s interactions Lori and Jeff are being wired up and then they’ll have a conversation about a topic that tends to result in a conflict electrodes will record how strongly they react to each other how angry they become how stressed they feel Kerri listens and observes she’ll use the data to analyze the argument and compare it to what she could see in the couple’s facial expressions she’s looking for signs of annoyance and contempt handling disagreements in a healthy way is a challenge for all couples.
I don’t know why I’m digging my heels in here but I’m digging my heels in and Jeff you said I can’t remember what we were fighting about it was probably nothing and you’re absolutely right because couples fight about nothing but underneath that nothing was a real important something for each one of us and that’s what we need to get to in the actual topic of disagreement is less important than how the couple handles conflicts couples in distress tend to display what Carrie Cole calls the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse criticism defensiveness stonewalling and contempt when I see any of the Four Horsemen those are the four killers of a relationship if there’s no intervention in those situations those couples likely won’t make it so contempt is the so Furyk acid for a relationship so that’s the deadliest of them all and when I see that it’s a really bad sign you know and somebody is talking in someone’s contemptuous of them they might school themselves from rolling their eyes but they’ll still go then there are some people who are just highly contemptuous and their faces are kind of set that way Lori and Jeff watched the video of their argument and identify a few of the four horsemen.
75% of the time or more that we are going to be missing each other we’re gonna be in grumpy we’re gonna be tired and we’re not the master of our emotions in those particular moments in time that just means we need to repair we need to be saying I’m sorry that came out wrong or I need a break or I’m feeling grumpy right now for Laurie and Jeff this is just the start of their therapy but the first day has given them hope that not all is lost it helps me feel more in some ways that flicker of a connection comes back when we talk about it it does peel away some of the layers that have built up over it of just feeling bogged down in weary and sometimes it’s good to have a little help thinking through how you can stay close and be it be a team and grow apart however many relationships simply suffer from not enough sex erotic attraction generally decreases during the first five years this is completely normal.
But if the sexual desire for a partner disappears completely then often love disappears too you see if a game AC binge I often see people who complain about too little sex or too much or that their sex life just isn’t fulfilling for them all of that’s possible and what’s right is different for every individual in every couple once a month might be enough or once a week or three times a week love can exist without lust but most couples would like to keep the passion of the early days alive for sexual therapists there’s a simple reason to keep the fire burning nothing releases as much oxytocin as sex with your partner sexuality turistas put inside and sexuality has the potential to evoke incredibly intense emotions and feelings in both men and women of course this varies greatly from person to person but when a couple has sex it strengthens their bond and is emotionally rewarding experience pleasure closeness and emotional support oxytocin not only makes couples behave more lovingly towards each other it can also improve their sex life Tim and Kouga conducted a study in which he gave couples oxytocin I mean oxytocin kernan via bus oxytocin can make a difference but it doesn’t trigger sexual desire the couples in our study said that it affected the quality of their sexual interaction it was more intense a little more intimate but they didn’t say that they suddenly experienced more sexual pleasure it’s certainly not a love drug.
Perhaps nature didn’t intend for us humans to live together as couples for all of our lives but only until our offspring were grown today however we want to make love last forever maybe one day this will become easier thanks to a pill that can keep love blossoming Brian herb is a bioethicists who wonders whether it would be right to give a pill to couples who want to reawaken their love the more we learn about the neuro chemistry of love the more we’ll have the opportunity to intervene in that neural chemistry and no one had really made that point before if we understand these systems with biotechnology in the future anyway we might be able to actually modify the systems and then we’ll have something like real life love drugs and we’ll have to decide the ethical implications of that Brian thinks that at times such a pill could work wonders when we touch our partner we have a massage or we kiss or we hug or we have an orgasm these are things that radically boost our oxytocin levels from the inside but some people have a hard time with touch in the relationship for example maybe they don’t find it naturally easy to have the sorts of experiences that would allow oxytocin to release naturally well then you might think maybe an artificial supplement of oxytocin could help people in this kind of situation whether with medication or without the question of how to make love last will keep love researchers busy for some time to come.
But one thing is certain to love is precious we have to handle it with care and breathe new life into it every day so even loving is vital it’s something beautiful and quite individual organs individual well first it’s romance and then it’s fun okay so you have to do things to keep your romance alive and exciting we can live without love but life is better with it.
What is Love More Than a Feeling?