Your eyes meet across the room, and you both blush and smile. There’s an undeniably instant connection between you that you know will last forever, through your wedding, children, and grandchildren. That’s it! You’re in love!
Wrong. You’re infatuated!
Infatuation syndrome can occur anytime to anyone and, unfortunately, looks a lot like love. Our brain chemistry gives off a falling-in-love experience. When we meet someone attractive, our limbic system is flooded with powerful chemicals. These chemicals are induced by the action of phenylethylamine (PEA), a naturally occurring, amphetamine-like neurotransmitter. PEA is commonly known as the “love molecule” and works with dopamine and norepinephrine to trigger strong side effects due to infatuation syndrome. Symptoms include a positive attitude, increased energy, decreased need for sleep, and a loss of appetite.
So, what is the brain’s reason for releasing all of these powerful chemicals? In order to reach a level of knows-no-bounds infatuation, the chemicals must overpower the amygdala, the brain’s inhibition center. This part of the brain tries to warn you “you don’t know this person! Look at the warning signs that they’re bad for you!” But Mother Nature has created such a strong chemical concoction in your brain that you do not hear your amygdala’s warnings.
Why is Mother Nature being so tricky? It’s all about biology. Infatuation is nature’s way of getting people to meet, mate, procreate and produce healthy offspring. So, when you make rash relationship decisions, it is for the good of the species!
Although infatuation syndrome tricks us into believing we are in love, this relationship stage does have its redeeming qualities. From the infatuation syndrome, we can learn some important lessons about having a successful relationship over time. Despite their starry-eyed outlook, couples in the infatuation stage, make some great relationship decisions.
Here are a few:
- They make the relationship a priority
- They make one another’s needs a priority
- They give one another time and attention
- They touch one another affectionately
- They talk of their future together in positive terms
- They flirt with each other
- They express their sexual energy
- They show appreciation
- They laugh
- They play
- They support each other
- They work out difficulties amicably
- They overcome great obstacles by working as a team
- They show love numerous times a day
- They accept differences
- They give one another the benefit of the doubt
- They use energy from the relationship to support work and other personal endeavors
Looking at the above list, do you make it a point to do these things in your current relationship? Chances are that at some point you did! Why did you prioritize your relationship then? Thinking about these questions might give way to a more fulfilling long-term relationship.
So, although infatuation syndrome clouds our vision of our relationship for the sake of biology, it does give way to some positive habits. If you have lost some or all of these habits over time in your relationship, think about the benefits of picking them up again. Go ahead and make googly eyes across the table at your partner. It may give way to some great habits!
(Source: The Truth About Love by Pat Love, Ed.D)