Helen Fisher of Rutgers University proposed 3 stages of love - lust, attraction and attachment. Each stage might be driven by different hormones and chemicals.
I will be discussing these stages below and elaborating on how and why people become stuck in repetitive dysfunctional relationship patterns. Also, I will be sharing some MINDFULNESS TECHNIQUES to help you stay centered and grounded should you feel the CHEMISTRY is clouding your judgement.
FIRST STAGE: Lust
People experience sex hormones in the first stage of love. Men experience an increase in testosterone and women experience an increase in estrogen
SECOND STAGE: Attraction
Often times in this stage people can not focus on anything else. They are stuck in the HONEYMOON stage usually infatuated with one another. The three NEUROTRANSMITTERS that are involved in this stage are dopamine, serotonin, and adrenalin.
When people fall in love it activates the stress response in your body and increases your blood levels and the stress hormone cortisol. People start to sweat, your heart beats faster and your mouth goes dry.
Scientist have examined the brains of couples who are in love and discovered they have high levels of dopamine which is a neurotransmitter that stimulates desire and reward. When this is triggered people experience an intense rush of pleasure. This has the same effect on the brain as COCAINE.
As a result of an increase in dopamine levels people experience an increase in energy, less need for sleep or food, and focused attention.
THIRD STAGE: Attachment
Attachment is the bond that keeps couples together. There are two hormones involved with attachment they are oxytocin and vasopressin.
Oxytocin is a bonding hormone which is released during sexual pleasure and child birth.
Vesopressin is another important hormone in long term committed relationship which scientist found is released after having sex.
People refer to the above science of falling in love as having“CHEMISTRY”. It is a scientifically proven chemical reaction we find ourselves experiencing when we are attracted to someone. Not everyone is attracted to the same person so you may find it odd that your friend may be head over heels for someone you have absolutely no attraction too.
LOVE ADDICTS are people who try and chase the chemical high in relationships. People end up becoming very addicted to the intensity of these kinds of relationships and when it starts to ware off they realize the person they were so in love with is not who they thought they were. Some people see a different side to their personality which becomes a big turn off for them leading to the demise of the relationship.
As mentioned above the DOPAMINE SURGE when you fall in love is as addictive as COCAINE. Often times people chase the high of this intense LOVE relationship going from one relationship to the next, never satisfied often feeling lonely, and not fully understanding why they can’t keep a relationship going.
MOST IMPORTANTLY do not be fooled by the intensity of this kind of "LOVE ADDICTED" relationship as a way to measure a healthy relationship. People believe they have to experience an intense high in order to be truly in love. Those intense relationships end up not working in the long run because the HIGH can't last forever.
Freud talked about the REPETITION COMPULSION which is a repetitive pattern of dysfunctional relationships. Once the person becomes mindful of the characteristics and behavior patterns they are falling in love with and are attracted to, they are better able to identify why they keep falling into this same dysfunctional relationship patterns. People can adapt healthier ways to cope with an awareness and understanding of the problem.
Remember you can take control of this by stepping back from the situation. Do not let it overpower you as much as it may feel good. LOVE addicts get the same help as substance abusers. YOU can break the pattern and live a happier more fulfilling life for yourself.
Below are two MINDFULNESS TECHNIQUES to help you stay centered and grounded should you feel swept up in a LOVE addicted relationship.
Be Aware of Your Breath:
I am breathing in and I am breathing out.
In order to recognize your in breath as in breath, you have to bring your mind back to your breath.
Be aware of your out breath. I am breathing out
Follow you entire breath as you breathe in until the breath stops naturally and as you breathe out until the breath stops naturally. Do not force the breath. Relax as you follow the natural rhythm of your entire breath.
Being conscious of the breath so when the mind wonders off you can bring it back to the breath again.
Mindfulness means being conscious and aware of something. When you drink your tea mindfully, it’s called the mindfulness of drinking. When you walk mindfully, it’s called the mindfulness of walking. And when you breathe mindfully, that is the mindfulness of breathing.
Mindfulness of The Body:
Breathing in, I am aware of my body. (Repeat)
Breathing out, I am aware of my body. (Repeat)
Body Scan is a way to bring the mind back to the body. Mind and body become one reality. When your mind is in your body, you are well-established in the here and the now. You are fully alive.
Focussing one's attention on the present moment while calmly accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations can help in the recovery process when dealing with serious addiction or mental health problems.