Would you believe you can be head-over-heels in love with your partner, for life? That’s not the talk of lovey-dovey romantics. It’s scientists.
A new study found that the secret to keeping the spark alive in your heart is by keeping it alive in your brain. A study at New York’s Stony Brook University analyzed men and women who claimed they were still "madly" in love with their partner, even after being married for over 20 years. Researchers used MRIs to scan each person’s brain while they looked at a picture of their partner. The subject also looked at a “control photo” of an acquaintance. Then they compared their MRIs to brain scans of people who had fallen in love within the past year. The result? Both groups’ brains looked exactly alike when they saw their loved one’s picture, and lit up like crazy in the part of the brain that produces the feel-good chemical dopamine. That’s the pleasure center of the brain that lights up when you eat yummy food, make money, or snort cocaine.
So, if you’ve lost that fire, can you get it back? Lead researcher Dr. Helen Fisher says absolutely. She says you can get that “in love” feeling back by doing activities together that raise your dopamine levels, which basically means anything new, exciting, or challenging. That doesn’t mean you and your partner need to become extreme cliff divers or load up on tattoos or piercings. It can be anything from taking your dog to a new park every week, to randomly picking a recipe out of a cookbook and whipping up a meal together.