More threads by comfortzone

Some couples may disagree, but romantic love lasts little more than a year, Italian scientists believe. The University of Pavia found a brain chemical was likely to be responsible for the first flush of love.

Researchers said raised levels of a protein was linked to feelings of euphoria and dependence experienced at the start of a relationship.
But after studying people in long and short relationships and single people, they found the levels receded in time.

The team analysed alterations in proteins known as neurotrophins in the bloodstreams of men and women aged 18 to 31, the Psychoneuroendocrinology journal reported. They looked at 58 people who had recently started a relationship and compared the protein levels in the same number of people in long-term relationships and single people.

In those who had just started a relationship, levels of a protein called nerve growth factors, which causes tell-tale signs such as sweaty palms and the butterflies, were significantly higher. Of the 39 people who were still in the same new relationship after a year, the levels of NGF had been reduced to normal levels.

Report co-author Piergluigi Politi said the findings did not mean people were no longer in love, just that it was not such an "acute love".


"The love became more stable. Romantic love seemed to have ended."
And he added the report suggested the change in love was down to NGF.
"Our current knowledge of the neurobiology of romantic love remains scanty.

"But it seems from this study biochemical mechanisms could be involved in the mood changes that occur from the early stage of love to when the relationship becomes more established." However, he said further research was needed.

Dr Lance Workman, head of psychology at Bath Spa University, said: "Research has suggested that romantic love fades after a few years and becomes companionate love and it seems certain biological factors play a role. "But while we are a pair-bonding species, there is some doubt over whether this is within monogamous relationships or not.

"Different societies have different practices and trends."

Romantic Love

Daniel E.
Just yesterday I watched an interview with the actress Betty White, who mentioned her 30-year love affair with her husband.

Though its generally true that levels of oxytocin, neurotrophins, or whatever else may fall after the first few years, many people do purposely rekindle their relationships.

On the other hand, with the divorce rate above 50%, it would seem correct to say that most people who marry don't keep the fire burning over the long haul, at least in their first marriage.


On the other hand, with the divorce rate above 50%, it would seem correct to say that most people who marry don't keep the fire burning over the long haul, at least in their first marriage.

yeah but the rise in divorce rate isn't just b/c people suddenly decided to fall out of love over time or b/c they "lost" levels of a protein... but a lot of it has to do w/ a change in the divorce laws, making divorce more accessbible (ie. no fault divorce). Also, there's been a shift in the attitudes society has about divorce (less prejudice) and more people are simply able to "afford" a divorce, ie. dual earner income etc. Marriage dissatisfaction wasn't necessarily any less in the past, but divorce just wasn't an option. Also, if you look at trends over time, the divorce rate has actually declined slightly so the actual probablility of a marriage ending in divorce is proportionately lower than before...

I don't think the study was trying to say that people fall out of love after one year... just that the type of love evolves or has potential to change which has been shown in other research to occur in relationships... and aren't Italians supposedly known for their great lovers? but yeah, the whole protein thing is quite interesting, lol.

Daniel E.
Along the same lines:

Companionate vs. passionate love

To Hatfield and her colleagues (1978, 1988), the two basic types of love are passionate love and companionate love. "Passionate love" is defined as a state of intense longing for the union with another and a state of profound physiological arousal. "Companionate love" is the affection we feel for those with whom our lives are deeply entwined. It is believed that passionate love, based on a human biophysiological system shared with other primates, is a powerful emotion that can be both blissfully positive (when love is reciprocal) and despairingly negative (when love is unrequited). Companionate love, on the other hand, is achieved only between partners who are able to positively reinforce each other's intimate behaviors. Although most people hope to combine the delights of passionate love with the security of companionate love in a single relationship, actually to do so may be impossible, according to Hatfield.

What You Should Know About Psychology


(where did you original reply go???)
well no, it doesn't, at least not in a romantic relationship... but doesn't a relationship kind of have all kinds of types of love? I mean people say their partner it their soulmate, their best friend, their lover, their partner for life etc.... so you kinda need all elements, not just pure physical attraction- maybe it's more about the balance and amount of each that determines the type of relationship... don't Italians also have huge families, aka "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"... so they must be doing something right?

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
No it doesn't. But I don't believe that's inevitable. I do believe that many people want so desperately to be "in love" that they fool themselves into believing they are when they're not. Inevitably, people in that situation will wake up one day and wonder where they are and why. A lot of that is simply poor reality testing and self-deception -- or it's the common confusion of love with lust or possession.

Daniel E.
My original reply, which Eunoia and Dr. Baxter responded to above, was something like:

"Companionate love" doesn't exactly sound exciting, does it?

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
And now that I see it again, it still doesn't sound very exciting - in fact, it sounds a lot like a relationship one might have with one's dog...


Woof woof

My first impression about the sweaty palms and butterflies (and "wanting to please/capture? romantic gestures/behavior too?) was wondering if the writer of that article was confusing FEAR AND ANXIETY with romantic love ... eek

I've met folks who are all "romantic/romance" until secure they "have the person" then pfffffffffft ... not a good sign for longterm romance if my guy has to feed me chocolates to release my endorphins and stops feeding me chocolate when he figures he's "caught me" then. Sorry babe, no chocolates, no romance since YOU aren't a romance type ... which i never noticed til you stopped buying me chocolates LOL (sorry folks ... this is just me being silly)
Interesting. I am certain that there are quite a few confounding variables in the study.

My thoughts regarding love: Love is difficult to define and yet universally experienced. Love is more than an act, it is beyond any chemical reaction going on within a human's body, however, it is simple but yet complex. It is all that goes on when you look into the eyes of another person. Love can be dependent upon a person's experience of love. Or it can be beyond the limits of the past. Romance is the mystery and excitement involved in experiencing love for another imo. There are so many things that one can share romantically with the person they love.
Interesting thread.

"but romantic love lasts little more than a year, Italian scientists believe."

Would this be similar to the "honeymoon stage" that I've heard about?
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