Everyone of us hopes to find a healthy, engaging relationship with that special someone—but the truth remains that a long-term partner is a lot more harder to find and keep than what it looks like in movies.
“Falling in love and building a relationship” completely activate different parts of the human brain, and they always don’t work well together. According to Helen Fisher, Ph.D., biological anthropologist and Senior Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute, the rush that we get when we first fall in love activates several regions of the brain linked with drive, obsession and craving, and it shuts down responsible for decision-making and planning ahead.
“People…can fall madly in love with somebody who’s married, who lives on the other side of the planet, who comes from a different religion, and somehow they’ll say to themselves: ‘We’ll work it out.”
Obviously, “falling in love” has little to do with choosing the right partner, regardless of what our movies tell us. To counteract this effect, Fisher Helen is an advocate of “slow love”: taking the time to get to know one another, letting the cloud of those initial chemical infusions roll out so you can see a little clearly the person you’re with.
“With slow love process of getting to know somebody very carefully over a long period of time, it’s going to help the brain readjust some of these brain regions for decision-making,” she explained.
Surely, there aren’t much sonnets written about the practicality of the term love. Knowing whether someone’s saving for retirement or if they’re in talking terms with their parents doesn’t make for the most beautiful courtships. Sk, how can we then build sustainable relationships and still keep the spark alive?
Stay In Love Using Your Brain
To nurture a long-term connection that doesn’t fizzle out, Fisher noted that it’s important to sustain the three basic brain systems which are responsible for mating and reproduction: sex, love, and attachment.
These are the three tips she shares to do just that:
1. Get a Room;
Having sex regularly is Helen’s first tip for keeping a relationship from losing its spark.
Helen said, “When you have sex with a partner, you’re driving up the testosterone system, so you’re going to want to have more sex [in the future],” she explains. “But you also have all the cuddling, which is going to drive up the oxytocin system and give you feelings of attachment.”
If you feel like you’re just too busy, Fisher recommends scheduling time that’s convenient for both of you within the week.
2. Give Your Brain the Novelty it Craves;
When your relationship starts feeling more wired than fun, Helen recommends trying some new things to shake it up. By so doing so, gives your brain and body that extra boost that “drives up the dopamine system and can sustain feelings of romantic love,” Fisher says.
It doesn’t have to be a big change, like deciding to have a baby or taking a trip around the world. Little things, like trying out a new recipe together, or going for a Street walk instead of settling into the couch with movies, can simply provide the novelty your brain craves for.
3. Stay “In Touch”
Cuddling, hand-holding, or even playing footsie under the table may sound cheesy, but touch is a proven fact to foster connection. “It drives up the oxytocin system and can give you feelings of deep attachment to the partner,” said Fisher.