Love is Like a Box of Chocolates and a Science Project in One Package

Man holding box of chocolatesWe’ve all heard the expression “love is sweet.” But according to a recent article by California clinical psychologist Offra Gerstein, love is also a science experiment. In the article, Gerstein reports on research from Dr. Helen Fisher, relationship expert. In her exploration of the neurobiological basis of love, Fisher found that hormones play a major part in feelings of love. Lust is driven by norepinephrine and dopamine; serotonin regulates the highs and lows that come with being in love; and vasopressin and oxytocin balance out the mix by stabilizing feelings of attachment. This concoction of hormones is what can make love bitter and sweet at the same time. Many individuals find themselves head over heels in love when they are still stinging from a recent separation or divorce. In fact, the majority of divorced individuals will remarry at some point. Are they gluttons for punishment, or eternal optimists?

Gerstein says that we are neither and both. Even individuals who have experienced painful relationships, intimate partner violence, or devastating betrayal still long to find that bond that fulfills them and sustains them. Johns Hopkins University associate Dr. John Money says that people begin forming their hormonal profile of a perfect partner in childhood. In fact, he believes that at as early as five years old we already have a blueprint for what our most compatible mate will be like. By adolescence, this blueprint is practically cemented.

But Gerstein cautions that with the sweet sensations of love comes the bitter bite of being in a relationship with another person. The roller coaster of emotions that result from hormonal fluctuations throughout different phases of a relationship can lead to negative psychological states and cause jealousy, violence, and anxiety. She suggests that if you are lucky enough to be in a mutually loving and respectful relationship, take a moment to be grateful for that. She also warns against seeking out those emotional highs because more often than not, those highs come with their fair share of lows. “Love is mostly sweet,” says Gerstein. “Balance your passion of intermittent highs with stable serenity.”

Gerstein, Offra. (2013). Relationship matters: Is love mostly sweet? (n.d.): n. pag. Santa Cruz Sentinel. 9 Mar. 2013. Web.

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  • Dina

    March 22nd, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    But learn your lesson the first time around and don’t go looking for the same kind of man who broke your heart before and still expect different results!

  • mae r

    March 23rd, 2013 at 6:43 AM

    There are those people though who just never learn
    It’s like they are getting married over and over again not really for love, but just because they have a hard time being alone.
    You know what?
    being alone can be a good thing.
    As a matter of fact I would much rather be by myself than constantly tied up in these relationships thta in the end mean nothing to me or to him either and waste my precious time on something that isn’t meant to be.
    These people who have gotten married three, four or more times, that’s just ridiculous

  • sylvia thompson

    March 23rd, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    is the research about “falling love” or about “love”? the actions of love that keep a marriage together for 70 or 80 years? Although I really believe in a mind, body, and spirit connection, I get tired of research that reduces everything to hormones. Love is action far more than it is feeling. And feelings often come after demonstrating caring and concern and commitment in a relationship…that’s why you can “fall in love” with the same man over and over again

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