in love

We used to be in love. Now what?

Being in love: The dope factor

WHEN PEOPLE FALL IN LOVE it triggers events in the brain that are similar to mental illness (boy does that explain a lot). First our sex hormones are excited and awakened. Then dopamine—the same stuff that’s activated by cocaine—is released in the brain. Next comes adrenaline and a chemical called serotonin, which can actually drive us nuts. Before we know it, all this heart pounding, sweat pouring excitement leads to attachment. Then it wears off, and real life kicks in.

[blocktext align=”right”]When you were in love you adored the way she laughed, but now that beautiful giggle sounds like nails on a blackboard. When you were in love the dirt under his nails was manly. Now you find it repulsive, you don’t want him to touch you, and you’re wondering if your relationship can make through the week.[/blocktext]

After a few months (or sometimes years), those chemicals aren’t jumping off the way they used to, and things change. When you were in love you adored the way she laughed, but now that beautiful giggle sounds like nails on a blackboard. When you were in love the dirt under his nails was manly. Now you find it repulsive, you don’t want him to touch you, and you’re wondering if your relationship can make it through the week.

Whether or not we want to admit it, every relationship goes through this, because being “in love” is like a drug. The high only lasts for a little while. That inevitably leads to the line we’ve all said or heard: “I love you. I’m just not in love with you anymore.”

Sounds good, but here’s the problem. You’re never going to be permanently “in love” with anybody–not chemically, at least–because our brains just don’t work that way.

Being in love: The big question 

So here’s the big question: How do you keep a relationship new once the chemicals disappear, the high wears off, and you wake up to realize that you’re no longer “in-love?” Or is the relationship even worth saving?

Inquiring minds want to know. sj favicon 3

Photo © Canstock Photo

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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Click here to learn more about Solomon


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Danielle Burnett

Personally I am still enjoying my high. I’ve been in a committed relationship for 15 years. Yes in the beginning it was a different kind of high. Sexually he attracted me, I focused on a lot of superficial things bc that was in the forefront. As the years go on he keeps me on a high by providing the personality, and the confidence that shows me what kind of man he is. It allows me to see what he aspires to do in his future, not to mention in his present. I think it all depends on what you focus on and what your mental state is that can alter what your high is based on. It also determines whether or not it exists or will continue to exist and for how long.

Solomon Jones

You said something that was key: “I focused on a lot of superficial things because that was at the forefront.” That’s what happens in the beginning. You focus on really instinctual things, like sexual attraction, or how a person smells, or how they look. Over time, though, the high you get from that disappears and you have to find other stuff to keep it going. My wife and I pretend we’re not married sometimes and we go out and pretend we’re dating. When we do that, we laugh a lot. It helps keep it fresh.