How does nature encourage long-term relationships?

Nature’s design for human successful reproduction is optimally effective if couples maintain a loving relationship for a period lasting about twenty years, and that’s if they only have one child. To encourage such long-term relationships, evolution designed the brain to release a cocktail of love potions that reward and encourage honeymoon-bound participants. The experience of falling in love is derived from the secretion of neurotransmitters that provide us with, among others, ecstatic pleasure (dopamine), enhancement of our attraction and attractiveness (vasopressin), exuberant health (growth hormone), and a desire to bond (oxytocin).

To further cement relationship longevity, Nature slips a mickey into the cocktail, by controlling serotonin, the hormone associated with addiction. Once the honeymoon effect is experienced, the brain chemically addicts us to pursue this behavior. This addiction is win-win for both the lovers and, because of the healthy progeny they leave behind, for human civilization. Of course, the downside of the addiction is the painful depression and withdrawal symptoms experienced when love and the underlying reproductive imperative fail.

Body chemistry in lower organisms is the primary director of what are essentially reflex-driven and unconscious reproductive behaviors. While neurotransmitter chemistry is also an important motivator for engaging human reproductive behavior, evolution endowed humans with a game-changer—consciousness and freewill. Though reproductive behavior is still driven by physiology, what we ultimately experience and what we create with our reproductive imperative is under the control of the mind.

As fully expanded upon in my book, The Honeymoon Effect: The Science of Creating Heaven on Earth, to understand how we create the honeymoon effect and why it disappears requires that we differentiate between the mind’s two primary subdivisions, the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. Each mind possesses unique powers, and their interdependent cooperation shapes our life and love experiences.

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