As you already may know, there are many things going on in your brain when you fall in love. For example, norepinephrine boosts your adrenaline production, which, in turn, makes your heart beat faster, you get sweaty palms, and the increased dopamine release can make you feel overly-excited. When you fall in love, a mixture of positivity-inducing chemicals are released in your brain, which makes the experience one-of-a-kind.
But the question many people don’t ask themselves is what happens to your brain when you fall out of love?
According to divorce psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry Dr. Zorica Filipovic-Jewel, MD,
“When it comes to finding ‘the right one,’ science has established that there are several systems in our brain responsible for that.”
“It’s mostly a combination of several chemicals, better known as neurotransmitters: norepinephrine, dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin,” she told Bustle.
Your body also goes through changes when you fall for someone. For example, hugs, kisses, and sex can boost the oxytocin in your system, which leads to strong feelings of intimacy and closeness, trust, and deep bonding. There is also a drop in serotonin that takes place at the start of a relationship, which causes us to think obsessively about our partners, raises our levels of anxiety, and creates butterflies in our stomachs. Thankfully, this all normalizes with time and makes you feel at ease with your relationship as the anxiety fades away.
And just as you experience changes when you fall for someone, your body and brain experience changes when you fall out of love.
Professor of psychology and director of neurostudies at Longwood University, Dr. Catherine Franssen, Ph.D told Bustle:
“It’s a process of forgetting habits and connections, of altering hormones and neurotransmitters, and of changing behaviors.”
Once your feelings for your partner start to disappear, your brain also stops the boosted production of positivity-inducing chemicals.
In turn, this triggers a rewiring in your brain and you no longer see your other half as the well of happiness they once were.
Dr. Franssen explains:
“The brain in love finds the nucleus accumbens (a major reward center) linked to the frontal cortex to generate positive feelings, and has a reduced connection to the amygdala (the fear center).
“Those connections reverse in the process of falling out of love. An individual finds the relationship no longer feels good, and that their social judgment changes.”
And this is when you truly start noticing your partner’s shortcomings and their imperfections become more annoying.
A 2018 study made public in the Journal of Experimental Psychology even found that those who saw their partners and former partners in a negative way were more prone to falling out of love faster.
Dr. Franssen says:
“If you find that you are suddenly out of love, it probably has been a long slow process that you weren’t paying close attention to until you had reason to look. Sex might reinvigorate oxytocin and potentially reignite a spark, but it isn’t enough on its own.”
It is also crucial to know that love transforms with time.
Dr. Franssen says that the stress hormones responsible for the increase of passion and breathlessness in the first stages of a relationship normalize over time and are replaced by feelings of comfort and calmness.
“The loving compassionate relationship can then serve as a buffer against outside stresses,” she says.
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