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Science Explains Why We Are All Love Addicts And How We Should Embrace It

Science Explains Why We Are All Love Addicts And How We Should Embrace It

We all know that crazy feeling of falling in love. We can’t stop thinking about our partner, from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to bed. Maybe this is happening to you right now. Do you find yourself distracted throughout the day? Can’t seem to think straight? It’s almost as if you are addicted to being in love. And the truth is – you are.

Or maybe you’re not addicted to a new love, but rather you can’t get over an old one. The two of you broke up and you know it was for the best, but you just can’t stop thinking about your ex. Maybe you’re wondering what exactly is going on to make you miss your ex so much. Well, science has an explanation.

Love is part of the reward system of the brain.

You know all of those crazy feelings and thoughts you have when you first fall in love? Your brain is responsible and starts mixing chemical cocktails that make you feel addicted to your partner. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist, explains:

“Love is not an emotion – it’s a motivation system, it’s a drive, it’s part of the reward system of the brain.”[1]

Neuroscientists Andreas Bartels and Semir Zeki conducted research to compare the brain activity of happily in-love couples with that of addicts who had just injected drugs.

What they found is shocking. It turns out that the two activities both activated the same regions in the brain’s reward system.[2] Additionally, further research has shown activity in the nucleus accumbens brain region, which controls all addictions, of in-love couples.

Like an addiction, you can’t stop your feelings from growing when you fall in love.

Two people in love exhibit all of the characteristics of a drug addict.

Think about it, you can’t wait for the next time you see your new love, hear their voice, or get to touch them. In fact, you crave for it.

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You feel a rush just thinking about your new partner, and your feeling only continues to grow. This growing obsession is referred to as “intensification” when talking about drug addictions.[3]

Yet your addiction doesn’t end when the relationship ends. Oh no, that would be too easy.

Instead, your brain goes through withdrawals, especially if you’re the person who was dumped. Crying, loss of appetite, eating too much, anxiety, not sleeping enough, sleeping too much, and feeling lonely. Have you experienced any of these symptoms after a breakup? You’re not alone. These are the same symptoms of drug withdrawal.

But this kind of addiction turns out to be what we need for survival.

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Survival of species relies on being addicted to love.

In order for the human species to survive, emotional attachment is necessary. In order to make sure that humans continue to thrive and multiply, your brain steps in.

When you start getting to know a potential romantic partner, the amygdala and prefrontal cortex in your brain turns off. These are the areas responsible for making judgment calls and producing negative thoughts. In other words, you are prevented from being judgmental and thinking negative thoughts about your new partner. Since all you can think of are hearts and flowers, the emotional attachment in your relationship grows.

Addiction to love can be a positive thing when the relationship is appropriate and the feelings are mutual. However, it can also be just as toxic as a drug addiction when the romantic advances are unwanted, rejected, or inappropriate.

Bravely face the emotions rollercoaster when you fall into and out of love.

If you find yourself falling in love with someone, remember to enjoy the rollercoaster of emotions. It’s one of the most amazing things that keeps us alive.

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If you find yourself staying in a toxic relationship or unable to get over an ex, remember that these thoughts and feelings are normal. However, don’t let loose of yourself and indulge yourself in it because like an addiction, you need to face it and do something in order to overcome it.

The good news is that science proves it can take only 11 weeks to get over your ex.[4] When you feel really hurtful trying to quit the “addiction”, hang out with friends and family. When you surround yourself with people who make you feel loved and safe, you can fill that feeling of emptiness. Being with close friends and family also helps your brain produce more opioids, which are like the natural painkillers.[5]

Or try repeat affirmation. Charlotte Davis Kasl writes in her book Women, Sex, and Addiction,[6]

Once the negative core beliefs have been exposed and challenged as false, you need to adopt positive, life-affirming beliefs. ‘I am unlovable’ becomes ‘I can love and be loved, I am a sacred child of the Universe.’ Feelings of hopelessness are counteracted by the new belief ‘I have the power to change my life.’ ‘I am defective’ slowly changes to ‘I get to make mistakes and be loved.’

Work on your mind, and your soul will heal. It takes time to quit any kind of addiction, but if you embrace the emotions and bravely face it, you’ll eventually overcome the withdrawal from a relationship.

Featured photo credit: Inna Lesyk via pexels.com

Reference

More by this author

Amber Pariona

EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

The ability to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way by which we grow. But we are often afraid to take that first step.

In truth, comfort zones are not really about comfort, they are about fear. Break the chains of fear to get outside. Once you do, you will learn to enjoy the process of taking risks and growing in the process.

Here are 10 ways to help you step out of your comfort zone and get closer to success:

1. Become aware of what’s outside of your comfort zone

What are the things that you believe are worth doing but are afraid of doing yourself because of the potential for disappointment or failure?

Draw a circle and write those things down outside the circle. This process will not only allow you to clearly identify your discomforts, but your comforts. Write identified comforts inside the circle.

2. Become clear about what you are aiming to overcome

Take the list of discomforts and go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear.

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How does this fear apply uniquely to each situation? Be very specific.

Are you afraid of walking up to people and introducing yourself in social situations? Why? Is it because you are insecure about the sound of your voice? Are you insecure about your looks?

Or, are you afraid of being ignored?

3. Get comfortable with discomfort

One way to get outside of your comfort zone is to literally expand it. Make it a goal to avoid running away from discomfort.

Let’s stay with the theme of meeting people in social settings. If you start feeling a little panicked when talking to someone you’ve just met, try to stay with it a little longer than you normally would before retreating to comfort. If you stay long enough and practice often enough, it will start to become less uncomfortable.

4. See failure as a teacher

Many of us are so afraid of failure that we would rather do nothing than take a shot at our dreams.

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Begin to treat failure as a teacher. What did you learn from the experience? How can you take that lesson to your next adventure to increase your chance of success?

Many highly successful people failed plenty of times before they succeeded. Here’re some examples:

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

5. Take baby steps

Don’t try to jump outside your comfort zone, you will likely become overwhelmed and jump right back in.

Take small steps toward the fear you are trying to overcome. If you want to do public speaking, start by taking every opportunity to speak to small groups of people. You can even practice with family and friends.

Take a look at this article on how you can start taking baby steps:

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The Number One Secret to Life Success: Baby Steps

6. Hang out with risk takers

There is no substitute for this step. If you want to become better at something, you must start hanging out with the people who are doing what you want to do and start emulating them. (Here’re 8 Reasons Why Risk Takers Are More Likely To Be Successful).

Almost inevitably, their influence will start have an effect on your behavior.

7. Be honest with yourself when you are trying to make excuses

Don’t say “Oh, I just don’t have the time for this right now.” Instead, be honest and say “I am afraid to do this.”

Don’t make excuses, just be honest. You will be in a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.

8. Identify how stepping out will benefit you

What will the ability to engage in public speaking do for your personal and professional growth? Keep these potential benefits in mind as motivations to push through fear.

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9. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Risk taking will inevitably involve failure and setbacks that will sometimes make you look foolish to others. Be happy to roll with the punches when others poke fun.

If you aren’t convinced yet, check out these 6 Reasons Not to Take Life So Seriously.

10. Focus on the fun

Enjoy the process of stepping outside your safe boundaries. Enjoy the fun of discovering things about yourself that you may not have been aware of previously.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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