Frances Cohen Praver Ph.D.
Beware: Love Is Blind
Can a snail turn on a scotch tape?
Posted Aug 14, 2011
With an impish smile, Brent remarked, "A child who makes a lot of money?"
In a stern voice Kate snapped, "Money's not everything. You're off and running all the time and I'm alone with the kids. I can't depend on you for support."
"I ask you to come with me, but no; you're too busy. You used to be such fun, what happened?" Brent pleaded.
"Raising kids, doing homework with them, shopping, cooking, going to the office is not always fun." Kate said in her matter of fact tone.
"That's the problem. You're just too serious." Brent said.
Turing to Brent I asked, "Brent, did you notice that Kate was a serious women when you fell in love?"
"I really didn't. She was so beautiful and brainy." Brent said.
I then addressed Kate, "Kate, did you notice that Brent was a fun-loving guy?"
Pondering the question, she responded, "Yeah, but I didn't really see that he was unreliable. Come to think of it, he broke some dates, and he wasn't always there for me."
"It seems that when you fell in love neither of you saw what the other was really like. And that's because love is blind. Not only is this a common saying but there is scientific evidence that supports it." I said.
I then explained just what science tells us about the adage "love is blind." Remember when you first fell in love? When, like Kate and Brent, you were walking on clouds? When you put your lover high up on a pedestal? Of course you do.
To heighten those incredible emotions, nature got into the act. And that's because love, bonding, attraction is essential for procreation. And so for survival of the species nature ensures that love is blind and other love-inducing mechanisms.
Specifically, when we fall in love, our mirror neurons not only connect us to our partners, but they trigger some amazing brain chemicals─ dopamine, testosterone, vasopressin, oxytocin, serotonin, GABA ─ that enhance attraction, love, lust, and loyalty.
But there is another intriguing feature of our remarkable brains. When we fall in love, our brains go to work and parts of it go dormant ─ the parts responsible for wariness, suspicion, discrimination. These are the very characteristics that our prehistoric ancestors needed to anticipate a predator.
In other words, the brain activates the good mood chemicals and deactivates the areas devoted to judgment. That's when we are madly in love. Over time if the relationship is fraught with hurts, disappointments, neglect, anger, indifference, blame, abuse, or infidelity, the magic-making brain chemicals are on hold. And we feel sad, anxious, debilitated, despairing. These negative feelings become entrenched in the brain.
That's not all. The amazing blinders fall off and we are no longer blind. The erosion of the relationship hits home and it feels like the end of love.
But it is not the end.
It is really the beginning: the beginning of work on the real relationship, creating change in yourself and the relationship dynamics. When you bring these new positive interactions into the relationship, you will rewire the brains as well.
If you want to learn more about why love is blind and how you can heal from past hurts and bring intimacy back, read my new book. It is called The New Science of Love: How Understanding the Brain's Wiring Can Help Rekindle Your Relationship (Sourcebooks, Casablanca, 2011) on preorder at Amazon. In this primer on love, you will learn about the power of mirror neurons on your love life, how love comes, goes, and how you can bring it back.