The altered state of “in love”

Brain scans show that the same regions of the brain are activated after taking cocaine as when subjects were shown pictures of someone they said they were in love with.

When I’ve been in love, I’ve relished the feeling: the excitement when hearing his voice, getting his text or email, even just looking at his picture. Such euphoria.

And it extends beyond direct triggers of him. Food tastes better, colors more vivid, music better, touch more sensual. A huge grin seems plastered on one’s face. Life just seems better. Much better.

But the part we don’t realize in our narcotic-like haze is that our judgement is clouded. We don’t see obvious signs that others around us see clearly. We overlook glaring clues that this relationship will cause us heartbreak sooner or later — or could even be dangerous.

In reviewing my last relationship, I now see how the man who captured my heart was controlling and abusive. One of my best friends tried to discuss his selfish behavior. I responded with excuses for his inexcusable behavior.

Since in retrospect we see our judgement is not always the best, why do we allow ourselves to plunge head first into the fray? If we were wise, we’d arrange with close friends to not just be invited to tell us what we’re not seeing, but be obligated to. And when they do, we have to promise not to get mad.

Maybe we’d need to make a sign for our mirror about this agreement.:-)

If you are not now in love, what would you advise your future in-love self so you can avoid the pitfalls you usually fall into? Or what would you advise others for when they find themselves falling in love?


Dating after 40: Date or WaitDate or Wait: Are You Ready for Mr. Great?


10 responses to “The altered state of “in love””

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    There is a girl I am crazy about.

    A user. Selfish. NOT that great a person. Years later, I still have the tingle in my head when I hear her voice.

    Good for me? No.

    Would I take her? For as long as she wanted to stay.

  2. seilidhe Avatar

    My daughter is in a relationship like this. It’s a long distance relationship, with a large age difference. I see how he controls and takes her for granted, and so do some of her friends. We’ve all tried to talk to her about it, but she insists she’s in love and he loves her and he’s not all that bad. She makes excuses for every time he makes her cry, which is often. I keep hoping it will end, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to anytime soon.

    Ah well, I guess we all make our own mistakes. I’ll just be there as a shoulder for her to cry on when this ends (which can’t be soon enough for me).

  3. sdl Avatar

    Ah, god- surely NOT out of love now…

    But I gathered the strength to draw my lines, step by step, over the last few months-
    One of the hardest things I’ve ever done, so easy to just turn a blind eye, accept the blatant lies as truth… and made even harder by his offering more and more inclusion with each line drawn.

    I feel sad ALL the time, and the sense of loss is like a tearing in my chest.
    I sleep only when entirely exhausted, then I dream endlessly- traumatic, wrenching, draining dreams- and wake more weary and sad than I started.

    But can I even work up even a LITTLE regret or perspective?
    I fear that I would break what little of my personal moral code I still have not knowingly violated over him, were he to again ask me to see him in ANY context.
    Because even a message from him with NO hope of more makes my heart surge with love, warm and happy to know he has contacted me for ANY reason.

    At this point, addiction looks like a weak and pathetic thing compared to the power over my heart, mind, body, and soul he wields…and may very well ALWAYS have.

  4. Dating Goddess Avatar


    I can relate to the pain of separation. Congratulations for the courage it took to extricate yourself from him. The longer you go without contact, the stronger you’ll be. But do you have a friend or counselor you could talk to to help you get beyond this painful stage? I’m concerned that you are vulnerable and if contacts you now, you’d give in. I know I’ve done that in a similar circumstance and it was not a good thing at all.

    So I want to encourage you to do whatever you need to do to take care of what you know you need long term — to not be someone who leaves you feeling used and manipulated.

  5. sunshinemary Avatar

    But I have a question. What is meant by “in love”? I think feeling excited by a new lover is different than being in love, isn’t it? There must be another way to think of it, like saying, “He give me tingles” rather than saying, “I’m in love with him.” I think of love as a long-term, caring, non-self-oriented thing. I wouldn’t be willing to be in love with many people.

    I agree with you, though. We are apt to make poor decisions when we are thinking with that tingly feeling!

  6. Goomena Avatar

    It is said that love is blind and I guess this is true. That is why those in love do not see the wrongs done by the other person. Friends can really help, but the problem with most people is that they take these warnings as jealousy. When they are hurt they are then too ashamed to tell those who warned them about what the person has done. If you fall in love enjoy but always be wise not otherwise.

  7. sdl Avatar

    DG: Thank you so much for your concern, it’s very nice of you. I DO have two good friends fully in the loop I am willing to look weak and foolish to- so I am honest and they are supportive… I am also working very hard at a job I love and find very fulfilling- and is finally financially rewarding too, so that helps too… He
    has indeed made contact, andbothsoon
    er than I thought he would regret his decisions and choices and… Respecing my lines! A saving grace, that. I would fold in a heartbeat. I can only be glad he is rethinking what he wants and WHO he wants in what role in his life…

  8. David Avatar

    Everybody know that, love is blind. but this type of relationship is allow.

  9. FD Avatar

    Awesome…. Post… I liked this very much

  10. Mary Italroz Avatar
    Mary Italroz

    Yes! That’s true, when we’re in love it seems that all our nerves are bursting every time we see that particular person. Specially when that person talks or holds our hand. All we can do is just enjoy that moment for it’s one of those moment that brings our life a more meaning one.