In honor of Valentine’s Day coming up quick, we’ve found a double board certified Neurologist and Neurophysiologist who has a lot to say about falling in (and out) of love.
Dr. Fred Nour focuses on using science to understand that true meaning of love, and even went so far as to writing a book on the subject. We were lucky enough to pick his brain about the stages of falling in and out of love, why partners cheat, and the differences between lust and love. The dating world may make you feel a little bit crazy, but hopefully this advice will help you navigate your next (or current) relationship and understand true love just a little bit better.
Being voted “One of America’s Top Physicians” six times, we’re going to take his advice. Read on to learn more:
Using Science To Understand True Love
BB: Why is falling in love a “mere madness”?
William Shakespeare said that. When we fall in love, our brain increases the effect of a group of chemicals called monoamines (epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin). These chemicals cause all the manifestations of love. These chemicals also alter our perceptions and behavior. We get delusions that our beloved is so beautiful/ handsome, even when they are not. We get illusions that our love will last forever, every fault our lover has will just vanish with love. We are totally unable to see reality, which we later call blame on “Love is blind”. We behave like insane people with many manifestations similar to Schizophrenics.
BB: Why do you believe we fall out of love along the way of finding true love?
No sensation in the brain can stay unchanged forever. We know that we lose the new car feeling eventually, we lose smell after smelling something for few minutes. Falling in love is caused by the excess effects of monoamine chemicals on the brain. This chemical effect returns to its normal level after about two years. We lose all the thrill of falling in love. Without these chemicals we feel that we lost the loving feeling. This happens to everybody and with every love. It has its benefits for us but we fail to see that, at the time. We all fall in True love after this phase of falling out of love.
BB: How can we smell good partners from bad ones?
It is in our genes. We know that dogs use smell to identify people. We do the same but at a subconscious level. In one study, they had women smell T-shirts worn by men. Women found that some men smell good while others smell bad. Other women will feel that the bad smelling T-shirts per one woman, smelled good by another woman. When they analyzed the genetic codes of men and women for a gene called MHC, they proved that women smell men that will give them healthy babies as smelling good while those that will give them unhealthy babies will smell bad. We unconsciously choose mates with best matching genes for better offspring.
BB: How are you using science to show readers how to find love?
If you know what you are looking for, and this is based on reality, you are more likely to find it and succeed. If we use myth, we fail to succeed. Love is not one event at one time as commonly believed. Love is a series of events that happen in our brains, to be exact love happens in four phases. Understanding the chemical and genetic basis for each phase, makes it easier to plan on success based on reality, not fantasy.
BB: What is the difference between lust and love?
Love is not lust. Lust is not love. Sex (lust) is evolution-ally much older than love. Sex is toward a range of individuals. Love is toward one specific individual only. There is a satiety center for sex and food (I had enough for today). There is no satiety center for love. We never feel that we have enough love for today. Sex hormones enhance the sex drive but nobody ever felt more love when taking them. We know of people that have sex with mates they do not love. We know of people who are madly in love with mates with which they never had sex. Sadly, sex researchers believe that love starts with lust. This is totally wrong and is not based on real science. Sex and love have two separate brain systems. There is an effect from one on the other but the two systems are separate.
BB: Is there any scientific reason why a partner may cheat or have an affair?
There are different factors that cause that. First let’s talk about our genes. I will stick with the same genes that I mentioned above, the MHC set of genes. In a study of people who have more affairs and those who had no affairs, they found that when a couple has a gene set that produces unhealthy children they tend to cheat with another partner who has genes that will produce healthier children than their existing mate. We have an unconscious desire to produce healthy children. The phases of love also matters. During the phase of falling in love, falling out of love, it is easier to fall to the less developed sex desire urges. When we reach the true love phase, which is based on a set of brain chemicals called nonapeptides ( Oxytocin and Vasopressin), which alter our perception of our mate. We perceive our mate as the most sexy and attractive person ever. Everybody else is a downgrade. In true love, cheating is uncommon.
BB: Is there any scientific evidence to explain why those who marry for money never experience love?
Yes, there is. Falling in love causes an increase in monoamines in the brain. These chemicals increase the number of cells and receptors for the nonapeptides receiving cells, in the part of the brain that is responsible for the true love feeling. These chemicals also increase the response of every nonapeptides cell later on, when we experience true love. Falling in love is a preparatory phase for experiencing true love which lasts for a lifetime.