Happy Couples Are Emotionally Interdependent, Says New Study, Plus 7 Other Facts About Your Brain And Body On Love

According to a new study out of Canada, great relationships aren’t only about communication, respect, love, and all the rest of it. People in happy relationships are also emotionally interdependent. Good couples ― especially elderly ones who have spent the majority of their lives with one another ― are far more sensitive to each other's emotions. In same cases, their emotions are actually dependent on that of the their partner. Basically, couples that are happy because of each other and for one another are more likely to have relationships that stand the test of time.

In a series of experiments, researchers scanned the brains of happy couples. For instance, they monitored the brain activity of happily-married women while they watched their husbands experience positive emotions, and found that the women were far more sensitive to their husbands' “unexpected positive emotions” than to the negative ones. In other words, seeing the person we love experience happiness and positivity affects us even more than if they were dealing with experiences that are less-than-great.

According to Dr. Duana Welch, the results aren't totally surprising. “Many of us tend to think we choose partners who help us work on our issues, and of course, that’s part of what happens in good relationships,” she told The Daily Mail. “But science increasingly shows that we choose one another for how good they make us feel."

But that’s the not only area in which body and brain are affected by love or relationships. Here are seven are facts which prove that it really is all intertwined:

1. Women Produce Brain Activity When Seeing Images Of Their Partners

It's not just that a woman’s brain activity light up when she watches her husband do something that he seems to enjoy or appear positive in some way. When shown another image of her partner, one in which he looks less-than-thrilled and is accompanied by a stranger, the woman’s overall brain activity (for both her partner and the stranger) decreases. It’s only when the husband displayed positive emotions that her brain focused on just him and got a little surge.

2. Happy Couples Mirror Each Other’s Facial Expression

While it can be said that spending enough time with anyone can lead to lots of mirroring, when it comes to couples, it’s different. Not only do happy couples share the same facial expressions, reinforcing their emotional interdependency, but that’s also why couples begin to look alike after decades together.

3. Love Makes People OCD

Because you’re probably not as OCD enough as you’d like to be, being in love amps up that obsessive-compulsive behavior even more. The brain is so focused on love hormones that serotonin levels drop, (you know, that stuff that keeps your brain working properly). The result is a partner 100 percent focused on their love. This also contributes to the whole “love is blind” thing, because that focus is all about how awesome your partner is.

4. Love Affects The Brain Similarly To Cocaine

According to 2010 research by Syracuse University, “Falling in love affects intellectual areas of the brain and triggers the same sensation of euphoria experienced by people when they take cocaine.” While we already know that oxytocin definitely plays a part in that feeling, the study found that love also causes the release of vasopressin, adrenaline, and dopamine, affecting 12 areas of the brain at once to produce this effect. No wonder being in love makes you feel like you’re high AF. This also explains why a breakup is devastating; suddenly you’re without your good-time drug.

5. Love Increases Blood Flow

MRI scans have found that love causes more blood than usual to flow to the brain’s pleasure center. Although the majority of the increased blood flow happens during the attraction phase a relationship, it’s a necessary step to getting to the comfort stage.

6. Your Pupils Dilate When You’re In Love

Pupils dilate (get larger in size), when it gets darker; it makes it easier for you to see. But they also dilate when you see the person you love. Although the exact reason for this has yet to be found, the thinking is that the dilation is from the arousal and excitement of seeing your love.

7. Images Of Your Partner Can Be A Painkiller

A 2014 study found that when men were shown pictures of attractive women, it activated the same part of the brain as painkillers ― the opioid system. What this mean is that even seeing images of your partner (that is, if you find them attractive ― and I’m assuming you do), can have a physically calming effect on your body, perhaps even easing pain.

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