Falling in love is one of those life experiences everyone wants to experience. Scientists know that the pleasure center of the brain lights up when we fall in love, creating feelings of giddiness and exhilaration. But they also know that Cupid's powerful arrow can make our hearts race. Falling in love over and over again (using up those heartbeats) might not be what the doctor ordered.
Falling in love triggers physical effects on a human body such as sweating, clammy hands, digestive problems, appetite loss, pupil dilation and a racing heart. When people fall in love, chemicals such as dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine increase, creating feelings such as euphoria, rapid heartbeats, restlessness and preoccupation with a love interest, according to Dr. Domeena Renshaw of Loyola University. Eventually, the feelings of euphoria fade as comfort, security or the “what was I thinking” phase take over.
Just because you are feeling symptoms of falling in love, it does not mean you are actually in love -- yet. "Being in love has a calming effect," says heart physiologist Dr. Richard Moss of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "After people fall in love and are in love, their resting heart rates tend to be much lower." Feeling infatuated, giddy, powerful, creative and exhilarated are some positive effects from falling in love. Unhealthy and dangerous emotional effects occur when falling in love turns into obsession and co-dependency. Feeling you cannot live without a person creates "relationship addition" that can be emotionally destructive, one-sided and abusive, according to Mental Health America.
Unreasonable expectations when falling in love can cause heartache and dissatisfaction with a relationship. The effects of love can motivate grandiose images of an unattainable fantasy. Exposure to romantic plot lines found in romance novels, movies and television could lead to distorted views of relationships. Everyone wants a happy ending when falling in love, but coming into a relationship with impossible standards will doom the union. No one is perfect and expecting a partner to fulfill our every need is impractical, according to Mental Health America.
Shakespeare was tuned in to the effects of falling in love when he wrote his play "The Merchant of Venice": “But love is blind and lovers cannot see the pretty follies that themselves commit." When falling in love, people tend to ignore and rationalize red flags in the beginning of a relationship. Falling in love induces feel-good chemicals, which can distort thought processes and prevent a clear picture of the relationship, according to Renshaw of Loyola.
Falling in love can create false hope and unrealistic thinking that destiny has brought a couple together in a perfect union. Thinking a relationship has been predetermined can cause relentless determination to make an ill-fated relationship work. Some people read romance novels for entertainment and escapism, but others take the unrealistic romantic ideals at face value in search of a happily-ever-after ending. It should not be a surprise how many people walk into relationships with unrealistic beliefs about love, considering that romance novels are read by 51 million Americans and they account for more than half of all paperback fiction sold in the U.S., Time magazine reports.
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- University of Wisconsin-Madison; School of Medicine and Public Health; How Love Takes Its Toll on the Heart
- University of Wisconsin-Madison News: Unrequited love is bad for your heart
- Shakespeare-literature.com: The Merchant of Venice Act 2, Scene 6
- Time Magazine; Rewriting the Romance; Lev Grossman and Andrea Sachs
- PBS; Nova; Amazing Heart Facts
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