Dig Baton Rouge

The Bitter Lemon

By Holly A. Phillips — @OrangeJulius7

My dating game sucked in 2015, so this year, I vow to make a better effort in putting myself out there.

We’re barely two weeks into the New Year, and I’ve already been on a date! How’s that for good luck?

On Saturday night, he took me to out to dinner at a sushi restaurant he’d been raving about. On our drive there, I got to thinking about crushes and attraction.

Have you ever wondered what it is about some people that makes you obsess over the little things they do – the way they laugh, their coffee order or their favorite sports team?

Maybe you’ve even noticed that the things you hate about one person all of a sudden become endearing with another person. What gives?

I came across a TEDTalk from Helen Fisher, Ph.D., who has done studies on various aspects of love – she’s also the chief scientific adviser for Match.com.

One of her studies includes putting more than 75 people (throughout the years) through a brain scanner to find out what happens to the brain when we fall in love.

According to Fisher, we can attribute our backgrounds, economic status and physical traits for helping us choose who we like and don’t like, but no one has yet to explain the spark, or chemistry, that we feel with only certain people.

“What if you walked into a room full of people that had the same background, status and attractiveness level,” she said. “Why wouldn’t you be attracted to every single one of those people?”

It’s an experiment I’d sure like to try.

So, what happens when you feel the mysterious spark?

Not only does your heart beat faster and your adrenaline race, but your serotonin levels drop, which explains the obsessive thoughts. You also begin to think that person is perfect, which is because, biologically, you want the relationship to work.

But the scary thing is the part of the brain that houses judgment (the frontal cortex) shuts down when we fall in love. That’s why we are all fools in love!

The brain also releases higher levels of dopamine, which gives us the feeling of pleasure and euphoria, especially during kissing or sex. That’s why it sucks when breakups happen – no more dopamine.

Pretty crazy, huh?

While it’s weird to know that the brain is mostly involved in my tiny obsessions over my crush (I like the way his hand rests on the steering wheel while driving), it’s good to know I’m not totally nuts.

As Fisher said, it makes sense that the brain suspends our judgment and gives us euphoric feelings because we want to reproduce and put up with the other person long enough to raise a child.

Of course, this is 2016, and not everyone we click with is going to take part in childbearing. But, biologically, it’s why we do what we do.

I don’t have any long term plans long-terms plans for my sushi date, but I would venture to say there’ll be a second date.

And yeah, we kissed. I’ll admit it; the dopamine levels were off the charts.

Read more about the brain in love on Holly’s blog, TheBitterLemon.com.


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