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Passion That Doesn't Play Out? Science Tells Us It's Real

5 years ago
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Scientists have long comforted those of us plodding through the tedium that long-term relationships can become by telling us that passion doesn't last for anyone. Within three months to three years, it has done its job of encouraging us to procreate. Perhaps it has kept us together long enough for a child or two to be born. Then, task accomplished, it fades.

People then break up or they don't, and passion changes into something calmer. Researchers call it attachment. It's deep, persistent, comforting. It doesn't keep you up at night.

We believed those researchers. Experience confirmed what they told us. Usually. I have a friend whose fiery passion for her man was the kind that didn't need much foreplay. A bed, a couch, a table, a floor, a wall, a closet, a kitchen. Anyplace. Anytime. They were burning it up. The passion lasted eight years.

"Eight years," I squealed. "Who gets eight years?"

"Then it ended," she said, like I should feel sorry for her. I didn't.

And now it turns out that I have a lot more people not to feel sorry for. The scientists now say they got it wrong. Passion never plays out for a lucky 30 percent of couples.

Researchers discovered this when they put some young people who were recently and madly in love on brain scanners. The kids' brains lit up the screens with feel-good dopamine. Their brains looked like those of people on cocaine.

Then researchers did the same tests with couples who'd been married 20 years and claimed to be still passionately in love. These older couples' brains looked like they were on cocaine too, proving that they weren't just braggarts and liars, as everyone probably assumed. They really were passionately in love, just like the kids.

Where did they find these lucky couples? I certainly don't know any of them. If I do, they've had the grace to keep their mouths shut about it. Twenty years? I don't believe it. I think they were all on cocaine.

Filed Under: Woman Up
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