How To Fall In Love... And Out Of Love, According To Science

Photo: istock

There is no bigger mystery than love. Most people believe it's this magical thing that happens between two people who are meant to be together forever. Science argues that it's all hormones and brain activity. Maybe it's a bit of both.

Love is one of the most sought-after emotions for the euphoric and heavenly feelings. But it's also the most dreaded for the potential hurt and heartbreak.

Yet, people still want to fall in love. A recent study found that it may be possible to turn on feelings of love, as well as turn them off. In fact, the study classifies love not as an emotion but as a motivation.

"One reason why love would not be an emotion is that it elicits different emotions depending on the situation," the study says.

In a study published in PLOS, researchers Sandra Langeslag from the University of Missouri, St. Louis and Jan van Strien from Erasmus University Rotterdam found that "love regulations" can change the intensity of how one falls in love. It uses cognitive and behavioral strategies.

In a group of 40 participants, half were in relationships and the other half had recently been through a breakup. The participants viewed a slideshow of 30 photos of their significant other or ex and were asked to regulate their feelings — thinking of something positive about their partner for "up-regulation" and something negative for "down-regulation."

As expected, participants felt more love when they thought about positive aspects about their partner, but felt less love when they thought about the negative aspects. 

So, what does this mean for couples and singles who just experienced a breakup?

Well, if the participants of the study felt more in love after concentrating on the positive aspects of their partner rather than the negative, then couples in marriages or romantic relationships can do the same.

Being with someone long-term, it's not uncommon for the spark to die down. By thinking about what makes their partner wonderful, more marriages and relationships can be saved. Of course, there is an exception for those in toxic relationships.

As for those who have just gone through a breakup and are finding it difficult to let go, it helps to think of the negative aspects about their ex to know that you deserve better in your next relationship.

Sign Up for the YourTango Newsletter

Let's make this a regular thing!

Either way, love is something that is wonderful and makes us human. Without the existence of love, it would be quite a dull life.