According to the triangular theory of love developed by psychologist Robert Sternberg, the three components of love are intimacy, passion, and commitment.
“Falling in love is associated with increased energy, narrowing of mental focus, sometimes sweaty palms, light-headedness, racing heart, and a lot of positive feelings,” says Needle, an associate professor and coordinator of Clinical Experiences at South University, West Palm Beach. Once a romantic couple begins to spend time together, they are in a sort of love euphoria.
“A person newly in love sees the world through the lens of love and most everything is tolerable and everything their partner does is delightful,” says Kane, who is also a marriage and family therapist.
Rachel Needle, specific chemical substances such as oxytocin, phenethylamine, and dopamine, have been found to play a role in human experiences and behaviors that are associated with love.
They function similar to amphetamine, making us alert, excited, and wanting to bond. Amen says “that romantic love and infatuation are not so much of an emotion as they are motivational drives that are part of the brain's reward system.” Kane agrees, saying that the human brain supports falling in love, which is why we have such a strong physiological response when we are attracted to another.
“Romantic love evolves when one feels a sense of interdependence, attachment, and that their psychological needs are being met,” Kane says.
“Some researchers say oxytocin plays a part in the evolution of romantic love as it is released in the brain during orgasm, which contributes to the couple’s ability to bond with one another.” Understanding the psychology behind falling in love can also help therapists treat people dealing with heartbreak.
When a therapist understands the meaning that romantic love has in one’s life and the traumatic effects of the abrupt and sometimes unexpected end of a relationship, they can address their client’s ability to move on and strengthen their resiliency.
“Moving beyond the pain of a failed relationship requires a shift of focus back on one’s self and to their own unique ability to give and receive love,” Kane says.
“A therapist can be helpful in supporting clients in understanding and learning from the past,” Needle states.
“Many people choose similar partners from relationship to relationship, but are unaware of it, as well as why these relationships continue to lead to disappointment and not last.” Some of us may have committed ourselves to the fantastical notion that romance is just an act of spontaneous combustion. “Get rid of the myth that these things should just happen spontaneously and that there is something wrong with the relationship because you are not all over each other every minute, as when you began the relationship,” Needle says.
Communication is a key piece of healthy relationships.