Would you know how long the infatuation lasts? Although it may seem like a question with a very subjective answer, the truth is that science has tried to answer this question. In this article, we will talk about how long does infatuation last.
For this, we will explain what happens at the brain level when we fall in love, and why this is also so related to the stage of “falling out of love”, which gives way to the stage of love for couples.
In addition, we will also talk about the three conditions necessary for infatuation to occur, according to two researchers in the field, and we will answer the question “who is more likely to fall in love”.
How long does infatuation last?
If we ask people from the street, they will surely provide us with different answers; many people think that it lasts between 2 and 3 years. Others, that simply lasts the time during which you discover the other and learn from him/her.
But what does scientific research say to the question of how long infatuation lasts? To answer this, we have turned to different experts and studies that address the subject in question. Infatuation as a passionate state lasts between six to eight months.
After this time, the so-called love appears, which is the next stage, where the couple’s love itself appears. Mir alludes to a neuroscientific explanation and states that these months are the time that the biochemistry of love lasts in our brain.
Other authors, researchers in this field, such as anthropologist and biologist Helena Fisher (researcher of love par excellence, in the field of neuroscience), trying to answer how long infatuation lasts, think that the duration of infatuation is between two and three years, with a maximum of four.
This would also be the time that our organism (and brain) can “support” or endure the chemical pump that is produced in our brain through numerous hormones, and that we will see next.
Continue reading: How to Move on After a Breakup?
The biochemistry of love
To answer how long the infatuation lasts, we must turn to brain biochemistry. So, what happens in our brain, on a biochemical level, when we fall in love? Many things!
But we are going to mention the most outstanding ones. Initially, our brain secretes serotonin, the so-called “happiness hormone”. Little by little, it adapts to this feeling of euphoria (similar to that felt by drug addicts at their dose of the drug), and serotonin levels decrease.
With this, the initial infatuation decays until it disappears (the brain gets used to this sensation, which is no longer so exciting), and then the aforementioned love of couple appears (the one that no longer brings butterflies in the stomach).
The findings mentioned, but, are not the only ones that would explain the biochemistry of love. Other research reveals that very intense sensations appear during the beginning of a relationship and during infatuation, not only due to high levels of serotonin but also to high levels of dopamine, testosterone and norepinephrine in the brain.
All this brain chemistry would make us feel euphoric, hyperactive and without the desire to eat . These studies, furthermore, mention that serotonin levels would be below normal (contrary to what was previously explained), which would explain why we become obsessed with the other person (that is, with the object of our love).
The act of falling in love
When we speak of love, we are actually referring to multiple types of love. However, one of the most widespread forms in our society, when we talk about abstract love (and in which we all think), is passionate love or infatuation.
The famous butterflies in the stomach, decreased appetite, feeling euphoria or excitement thinking of someone … Has this happened to you? They are just some of the symptoms of falling in love, a process through which we idealize a person and feel an irrepressible desire to be with him .
But, have you ever wondered how long the infatuation lasts? It is a question with a difficult answer; In addition, the possible answer to this question is not universal either, since there are studies that demonstrate one thing and others, another. However, experts do agree that the infatuation has an expiration date.
Falling out of love biologically
We have seen how biochemistry influences the question of how long infatuation lasts, but what happens at the cerebral level in the phase of “dislocation”, or when the love relationship is consolidated?
When we are already installed/is in the phase of love for couples, according to Mir, Doctor in Basic Psychology, it is then when high levels of oxytocin, the hormone that would allow the relationship to consolidate and maintain itself over time, are secreted.
Mir also indicates that, in this process, a hormone called oxytocin begins to appear in the brain, which has to do with a more stable relationship.
Thus, biologically our organism (and brain) could not withstand such an exciting situation for a long time, so a reduction in the explained chemical overload would occur in the brain.
Love: 3 necessary conditions
We have seen how long infatuation lasts, but what does it take for it to occur? According to researchers Hatfield and Walster (1981), passionate love or infatuation is easily activated if three conditions are present.
1. Exposure to romantic images and models
These images and models lead the person to hope that one day he will find the right person and fall in love with her. We are talking about family and cultural beliefs, which are expressed in everyday comments, in narrations, in stories, songs, movies, etc.
2. Contact the “appropriate” person
And you will ask yourself, who is the “appropriate” person? Based on what can be considered the “appropriate”?
All this has a strong cultural determination (cultural and social factors greatly influence); However, there are authors who think that all this is determined by unconscious evolutionary factors (similarity, physical, healthy and young people, sexually available, with status and resources …).
Referring to more biological issues, many experts believe that so-called genetic determination also influences, which is based on the idea that we “search” (consciously or unconsciously) for a suitable person to reproduce.
However, this idea would be insufficient to explain the infatuation, since it leaves many questions unresolved: what happens to homosexual couples? What about heterosexuals who do not want to have children? etc.
3. Strong emotional activation
This emotional activation occurs if the two previous conditions are met, and is usually caused by a feeling of fear, frustration (Romeo and Juliet effect) or sexual excitement.
Who do we fall in love with?
Beyond what it takes to fall in love and how long the infatuation lasts, we find it interesting to delve a little deeper into the question. For this, we are going to refer to the findings of psychologist Robert J. Sternberg to talk about who is more likely to fall in love? ”
In the 90s, this psychologist developed a new perspective on love, which was based on the principles of narrative therapy. This theory is exposed in his work “Love is like a story. A new theory of relationships ”(1998).
Here Sternberg proposes the idea that human beings tend to fall in love with people whose stories or conceptions of love are similar to ours, but in which there are also differences that can help to carry out complementary roles.
Sternberg also emphasizes how important it is to discover the ideal stories of couples (which often fail to be verbalized) when analyzing possible love conflicts that may arise.
And what about sex …?
We’ve talked about how long infatuation lasts, but what about sexual desire? According to the results of research carried out by sexologist Dietrich Klusmann and his team, women lose sexual desire after four years of relationship, something that does not happen with men who, according to the study, do not directly lose it (it remains intact).