Are you madly in love? There’s a 12-step group for that.
You know those songs that compare a woman to a drug you just can’t quit? They might be onto something. A new study has found that romantic love triggers some of the same brain activity as other addictive substances. (We already knew that sex can be addictive. Just read our editor’s book.)
“Romantic love is an addiction,” Helen E. Fisher told LiveScience. Fisher studies love (what a cool job!) at Rutgers University and published her findings in the July issue of the Journal of Neurophysiology. “It’s a very powerfully wonderful addiction when things are going well, and a perfectly horrible addiction when things are going poorly.”
Researchers took fifteen college-aged men and women who, on average, were two months removed from a two-year relationship. They showed the forlorn participants pictures of their former lovers and reported increased activity in certain areas of the brain that are also linked to cravings, emotional control, pain, distress, and feelings of fondness.
One interesting stat that caught our eye:
Participants also said they spent more than 85 percent of their waking hours thinking about their rejector.
Not to fear—there is some light at the end of the love tunnel. As with most things, time seems to make a difference. The longer it’s been since the breakup, the less attachment-oriented brain activity there is. And while it hurts to go cold turkey, things do get better. So, pucker up and read about some truly dumbfounding breakup stories.
And, if you do need help with sexual or romantic obsession, check out Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.