While books and movies have long portrayed the greatest romance stories of all time that tend to end in happily ever after for the onscreen actors, science says this isn’t exactly true. Unfortunately, romance does indeed have an expiration date for everyone.
The feeling of falling in love is quite possibly the most natural high anyone can experience. Seeing your beloved can cause your heart to race, legs to weaken and face to blush. While romance movies can try their hand at convincing us that this feeling can last a lifetime, even the most intense romances are destined for an expiration date. The passion can be expected to last anywhere from two to three years at most, said Dr. Fred Nour, a neurologist in Mission Viejo, California, and author of the book True Love: How to Use Science to Understand Love.
This is all caused by the chemicals in the brain–a potent mix set up by nature to get you to procreate, give birth and care for the child until they are mature. Although greeting cards and holidays like Valentine’s Day can make you think these emotions are all about your heart, in reality, your heart has little to do with love. Everything related to the feeling of love occurs in the brain, said Nour.
“Romance will never last for a lifetime,” Nour told TODAY. “You have to accept falling in love is just a phase that’s going to go away…If you accept that, you’ll have fewer divorces and more happy people.”
Here are the four phases of love:
During this phase, you begin by choosing the person you want to be with. The majority of it is unconscious, says Nour, and is done so with instinct guiding you through this process. See a person you’re drawn to in a room full of people? On a basic biological level, you are attracted to that person because your body senses that your genes mixed with his or her genes would produce very healthy children.
Romance and Falling in Love
“This is the phase that everybody talks about, all the movies, all the romance novels, because it’s fun, exciting and thrilling,” Nour says. “In this phase, we don’t see reality–love is blind. We see people as we want them to be, not as they are.”
Brain chemicals called monoamines create the familiar head rush feeling of being with your loved one or even just at the mere thought of them. Nour says to enjoy this, as this intense feeling will disappear in a few short years.
This phase has an important purpose: It prepares you for true love down the road. If you find that you aren’t truly in love with your partner, you won’t be primed for that last phase.