Romantic love – its acquisition, absence, loss or maintenance, is a subject that for most of us unless we have entered a closed order, dominates our entire adult lives. There’s no doubt that making that profound soul connection with another offers us not only the experience of loving and being loved, but provides us with incredible growth opportunities. Love is the answer, which is why so many of us can become embroiled in a cradle-to-grave search for that special someone.
We all know on a soul level we have spiritual contracts with specific individuals to enter into relationships with them (or not, as we always have free will!) in this lifetime. The latest scientific research however shows us just why we may be attracted to those we love – and why when the soul growth has been fulfilled, we may end the relationship. We already know that the state of ‘being in love’ puts us under the influence of a host of addictive brain chemicals. Let’s face it, whether or not your love is reciprocated, just the thought of the object of your passion can bring about a wildly beating heart, sweaty palms, dilated pupils and often an inability to speak or think clearly! This is the result of a cocktail of neurotransmitters in the brain such as phenylethylamine, dopamine, oxytocin, norepinephrine, and adrenaline. If things go wrong, then you will have the same experience as an addict has during withdrawal – which is basically the scientific explanation as to why breaking up is hard to do.
Research has taken this one step further and shown why that first kiss is the make-or-break event for whether the relationship continues. We all have something called a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) which measures immune responses in gene groups. This can be measured in your saliva scientifically or on a subconscious level in a kiss. Studies involving a lot of dirty laundry showed that women, on the basis of scent alone, consistently found T-shirts worn by men with an MHC most divergent from their own to be the most enticing. So, we are drawn to the people whose genes are most different from our own to give any potential offspring the best chance. But what is more interesting is that women on the pill show a hampered sensitivity to MHC in potential mates. They consistently picked T-shirts worn by men with MHCs far closer to their own. Some researchers now suggest that this may be a factor contributing to the high incidence of early divorce, given that women on the pill choose partners without the benefit of a fully functioning MHC detector. When later on they stop taking it, either to change methods or in preparation for starting a family, the closeness of their partners’ MHC is finally detected and the relationship hits the rocks. Of course, the basis of chemistry works on the same level in same-sex relationships when it comes to finding your partner attractive – perhaps without all the added complexity that comes with artificial hormones messing with your body’s signals however!
Neuroscientists have also posited that the ‘seven year itch’ is actually a four year itch as divorce rates usually peak after four years of marriage then level off. This is when that wonderful cocktail of brain chemicals we talked about earlier starts to taper off and many people think that this means they are no longer attracted to their partners. So, is love just a chemical imbalance? I don’t believe it is at all. On a soul level the right ‘chemistry’ ensures we connect in the first place. But after the initial ‘rush’ has died down, finding something new to love in our partners as time goes by is all part of being in a long term relationship. I think the chemistry acts as a way to bring us together with specific people and then finds us like glue so we can both evolve through the connection. And don’t forget – just because you have a deep soul connection with someone doesn’t mean to say that the relationship won’t require hard work. But at the end of the day – it’s the chemistry we feel when we are with someone special that makes the soul connection so worthwhile.
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