Romantic Love Is An Addiction

See? It’s not just your friendly neighborhood dating coach who says so.

As reported in the July edition of the Journal of Neurophysiology, Dr. Helen Fisher’s new work indicates that for heartbroken men and women, looking at photographs of former partners activated regions in the brain associated with rewards, addiction cravings, control of emotions, feelings of attachment and physical pain and distress.

The love that endures is the one that remains steady.

Yep. That intense, yearning, magical feeling is a drug – and, like most tales involving drugs – it rarely has a happy ending. Love, as you undoubtedly know, is marked by high-highs and low-lows. Yet the love that endures is the one that remains steady.

That’s the one I’m always talking about, the one I want you to achieve by making different decisions in dating.

The good news, Fisher points out, is that time heals all. The more time that had passed since the breakup, the less activity there was in a brain region associated with attachment.

So, are you still going to keep chasing that “feeling” that has never resulted in your own long-term happiness? And if so, why?

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  1. 21

    I don’t know how people are able to scale sexual attraction this way. For me it’s pretty much either there or it isn’t. I’ve seen it blossom from an uncertain starting point, but if it’s not there after a few weeks, it doesn’t happen.

    Using a 0 to 10 scale, zero meaning no interest whatsoever and 10  meaning can’t keep your hands off the person, what’s a seven? Being   70% sexually attracted to them  out of a possible  100%? Being sexually attracted to them 70% of the time? I think the error here is trying to apply a measurement system to something that can’t easily be measured.

  2. 22

    Using the attractiveness scale is actually foreign to me too, but I need to express myself in the way that other people will understand :-), and so I have no choice but to use it.
    But yeah, never once did I think to myself something like, “Well, he is not good enough for me since he is only a five.” Or, “I wonder how they ever got together in the first place – he is an 8 and she is a 2.” 😐

  3. 23

    Yeah, I’ve never thought that way either, but what I was refering to in #23 was more along the lines of what you wrote in #22. I don’t find myself  overwhelmed by sexual attraction to  a man, particularly at first. But when the attraction has developed and IS there, it has never, ever occured to me to evaluate it on a 0 to 10 scale. It seems to me if you do that, then no matter what the number is, you are subtly telling yourself what you are feeling isn’t what you could have – thereby preventing you from just enjoying it thoroughly with that person.

  4. 24

    The numbers drive me buggers, too. Rating chemistry, physical appearance, etc. seems a bit silly to me. It’s all speculative anyway. It’s a good thing I didn’t judge my former husband on a numbers scale. He started out as probably a 2. There was little chemistry or physical attractiveness based on   how I felt about him in the beginning. If I had of, I would have very likely passed up what became some of the best years of my life.
    Interestingly, I find myself being more discerning now regarding physical attractiveness. It’s kind of odd to me in a way. When I was young, I didn’t seem to care. If he was nice, he was nice. But now, maybe because I am somewhat ambivalent about having a man in my life, I notice the physical traits more. I am more selective. But I don’t worry about intense chemistry getting in the way. The odds of my accidentally stumbling upon such a man are about one in a billion. 🙂

  5. 25

    Your post made me smile. I’ve found as I’ve gotten older my perception of  physical attractiveness has become much  more of a relative thing. Like Karl R. has written, I’m more apt to find an attractive attribute in a person and focus on that. Eg. he has nice hair, eyes, smile, arms, whatever. I’ve  yet to  come across anyone in my  ideal  age bracket (44-55) that made me swoon with desire just from looking at them. Although I’ve seen some men that have made me sigh and wish I was 25-30 years younger. 🙂

    To me, chemistry is a compatibility of personalities – you can have that with anyone – close  friends, favorite  relatives, enjoyable  co-workers. In a romantic relationship  chemistry  is compatibility of personalities + sexual attraction.  If you don’t have both you feel something is  missing.   If you do have both why would you rate it (chemistry)  on a scale?   That’s what I don’t get.

  6. 26
    Karl R

    Selena said: (#23)
    “I don’t know how people are able to scale sexual attraction this way.”

    We don’t, at least not on a regular basis. But I’m willing to bet everyone can scale it on a “more” or “less” basis. Take any two men you’ve dated, and I’m willing to bet you can very quickly tell me which was hotter. Even if that opinion may change over time, you can probably give me a current opinion without much thought.

    We’re all capable of making these assessments, but they don’t translate well into an online forum. I can compare a woman to my ex-girlfriend Theresa in a multitude of ways (attractiveness, sex, intelligence, temperment), but that will mean nothing to you, since you don’t know Theresa. There’s no basis for comparison.

    On the other hand, we all have a good grasp of the numbers 7 and 10. Even if I don’t think of people in numerical terms, I can instantaneously grasp the concept of dating a 7 instead of holding out for a 10. And it’s the concept that Evan is trying to communicate, not a numerical scale. The numbers are arbitrary.

    Selena said: (#25)
    “It seems to me if you do that, then no matter what the number is, you are subtly telling yourself what you are feeling isn’t what you could have — thereby preventing you from just enjoying it thoroughly with that person.”

    I am under no illusions that I am the best-looking, funniest,  most intelligent or best lover of all the boyfriends  that my girlfriend has ever had. That doesn’t prevent her from enjoying our relationship. Because the relationships that she had with the other men (smarter, better looking, better in bed) all had problems. And even though she could definitely get some of those men back, she would also get the problems back.

    And if she found new men who had those traits, they would likely come with their own sets of problems.

    There is only one area where I am the “most” or “-est” of the men she’s dated. I’m the easiest to get along with. She doesn’t have to work at the relationship to keep things flowing smoothly. Similarly, she’s the easiest to get along with of all the women I’ve ever dated.

    We both have a number of positive traits to go along with our easy-going natures. Neither of us is giving up on intelligence or attractiveness in order to get a great relationship. But both of us are willing to have a little less in some areas in order to come home every night  to a partner who won’t start a fight with us.

    And if you’ve recently been in a relationship where you felt like you were walking on eggshells all the time, what would you give to have a relationship where you’re as comfortable as you are when you’re just hanging out with your cat or dog?

    1. 26.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I’m telling you, Karl: don’t start a competing blog. I’m watching you…

  7. 27

    Selena #25,
    I was only quoting Evan, and can only guess approximately what it means. I suppose a chemistry of 10 is like this person is your personal god, and 7 means there are some flaws, but nothing you can’t live with.

  8. 28

    To Selena #27, now you’ve made me smile. 🙂 I hear ya. When I was young, I was terrible about noticing the men. Friends would say, “Don’t you see that guy staring at you?” I was interested in a man’s sense of humor, integrity, responsibility, how he treated me, etc. On a deeper level, I may have thought that a handsome man would be less likely to have the inner handsomeness I was hoping for. I was fortunate in that I had my cake and ate it, too. The inner handsomeness that I found completely changed how I saw him on the outside.
    I am now much more aware of their casting looks. This makes me notice their outside packaging more, and I see little of interest in my age range. I still carry the same fundamental belief as I did back then, but my needs and life have changed. I also don’t think so much about what I want in a man, as I do about what I want in my life and those don’t necessarily involve a man. Maybe the physical attributes feel more important, too, because I wonder about their state of health and in the years ahead when so many men from my gen are smokers.

  9. 29
    Katarina Phang

    Physical attraction, for me anyway, is very vital.   Without it relationship won’t last.   I know beauty fades, but if you don’t have that to start with, other attractions can’t develop properly because lack of steam/gas won’t sustain relationship over time.

    But in some very rare cases, I guess, you become physically more attracted to someone after you find him/her emotionally attractive (I think it perhaps happens more to women than men).   But at least, you have to find them “neutral” first physically, not unattractive.

  10. 30

    Karl #28

    First of all I don’t walk on eggshells around anyone. That would be a clear indication that person wasn’t for me. As I stated in #27, compatibility of personalities IS part of what I consider chemistry.

    Second, yes I could tell you which previous  partners of mine I think are/were better looking than others – now. But it was irrelevant when I was in each relationship.

    That’s the point: when I’m happy in a relationship I don’t compare. I don’t compare looks and I  don’t think about whether there is more or less chemistry than there was with some other guy. Obviously any other guy is out of the picture and I’m enjoying the one I’m with now. That’s why this idea of “seeking out” someone you have a level 7 chemistry with instead of holding out for a level 10 is so odd to me. Chemistry is either there, or it isn’t. No levels when you are happy being with someone.

    JuJu, maybe you have it right 🙂   I have never experienced personal god-like chemistry with some guy (there is such a thing? really?). I’ve only experienced the kind where there are flaws that I can live with. I still think we’d all be better off scrapping these scales altogether.

  11. 31

    Star #15,
    physical attraction is an inalienable component of romantic love. Otherwise it’s just emotional attachment.

  12. 32


    I re-read what I posted and don’t see where I said that it wasn’t.   I’m pretty much saying what Evan says.

  13. 33

    No, I am just saying, it’s not two different topics, it’s all interrelated.

  14. 34

    Evan didn’t get..
    But luckily Selena in no:   19 did.
    so did Juju in no 22 who said

    Besides, I think I am being somewhat misunderstood here: Evan is trying to persuade us to “settle” for a 7 on the chemistry scale — hey, I’d be deliriously happy to find that! I never did hold out for a 10! By far with most men I am capable of finding intellectually interesting, though, the physical chemistry ranges between somewhere on the negative scale and maybe 3-4
    And Karl in no 8
    Feeling excited is a choice. It’s a decision (conscious or not) about how we perceive events.
    Based on what you say you could have a sexual relationship with man.
    Read my post again – I said.  Without sex I could take a woman as   flatmate/ friend to live with me.
    I am saying it again:  I never felt any sexual attraction towards most men, who wanted to date me. You tell me to try to have a relationship with them anyway –
    I have done it – based on wrong advice like you say.
    “You never know”
    Never again, I know myself. That would be leading them on, and I still would be sexually frustrated as I NEVER HAVE GOT AN ORGASM WITH A MAN LIKE THAT. Sex has been basicly boring.. and I have been faking it by thinking that “I don’t want to disappoint him”. Men hate to hear that, but that is the truth.
    I am not willing to do it again.
    And you are irresponsible when you say that “it is all mental” –
    if that is so, then for you, it is all the same who   (man or women) you have relationship with, the only thing that seems to be important is to HAVE someone – no matter who.


  15. 35
    Karl R

    NN said: (#37)
    “I am saying it again:  I never felt any sexual attraction towards most men, who wanted to date me.

    NN said: (#1)
    “BUT the act of sex doesn’t feel like anything (no satisfaction) without excitement”

    Do you consider those two statements to be synonymous?  I don’t, which may explain my confusion regarding your first post.

    If you don’t consider those statements to be synonymous, then I’m confused as to how you’re making that statement “again” in (#37), because I don’t see where you made it the first time in (#1).

    If you feel zero sexual attraction towards someone, then I agree with you,  there’s no point in dating them. There’s no amount of mindset that will create something from nothing.

    However, you should re-read my post. I was talking about excitement, not sexual attraction, which I (and  every dictionary) view as somewhat different terms. If I had been discussing sexual attraction, I wouldn’t have used an example with your parents, since I consider a sexual attraction towards one’s parents to be  fairly disgusting.

    You’re not sexually attracted to “most men” who want to date you. What percentage of them are you attracted to?

  16. 36

    # 37

    NN, I am with you all the way!

  17. 37

    @ #1, NN,

    Hey, if compromising means being with a man who is slightly out of my age range, good-looking, not Ivy-League-educated, and a great human being….and I feel 7/10 chemistry….please, please, please, send him my way!!!!!     I guess some of us have varying views of “compromising.”       LOL

  18. 38
    Mike Smith

    Really Romantic Love is an addiction for the lovers. Once they get into it, they do not find a way to get out of it. their mind and heart is every time thinking about how to comfort their partner by romance.
    Learn more about love and romance on

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