Striking a major blow to those of you who think Matthew McConaughey films lack realism, researchers at Syracuse University are here to argue that falling stupid, stupid in love is not a social construct and is, indeed, a real biological phenomenon.
But before you declare victory over cynics, be warned -- these are scientists, so we're talking about love as a series of chemical processes in the brain. YAY, ROMANCE!
Just as you can identify emotions like anger or happiness by figuring out how they correspond to brain function, Dr. Stephanie Ortigue and her crew have been running scans on the brains and bodies of people who claim to be smitten, and they've found some amazing things.
First, you know all those books where people fall in love slowly, like, when they're in an arranged marriage or they're both servants at the same dreary English manor? False! Researchers found that the brain process we think of as "falling in love" takes about one-fifth of a second (which explains why we fell for that guy who didn't believe the moon landing happened).
Second, being in love takes the effort of 12 different areas of your brain working in tandem. So, while you're imagining you and your paramour making out in a hot-air balloon, your brain is working overtime to release good-time chemicals like dopamine and adrenaline, changing how you think about other people and your own body image. It can even cause a nervous sensation in your stomach. (Butterflies, yo!)
The researchers are excited about all the implications for therapists working with couples who have fallen out of love, or with a just-dumped patient who can't get over it, but we're cringing as we imagine the day that couples shoot each other up with syringes full of liquid love in order to keep from having that same argument about whether forks should go tine-side up or down in the dishwasher.
Then again, we've always been a little cynical.More in Sex, Dating and Love on Lemondrop.