Falling In And Out Of Love: How Much Control Do You Have Over Your Emotions?

Forgetting heartbreak may not require a magic pill: researchers from the University of Missouri–St. Louis are exploring whether love is more malleable than we thought, and whether we are able to turn the feelings of love “on” and “off” to better suit our lives.

According to the results of Dr. Sandra Langeslag’s recent research, with a bit of training and concentration, it may be possible to love individuals “less” and therefore make experiences such as breakups less difficult, or even love someone more, such as a spouse for whom your affection has waned.

Read: How A Love Connection Can Change Your Body's Chemistry

In a study published last summer, Langeslag gave empirical evidence to show that love is manageable, to a degree. For example, her research showed that you could increase your feelings towards another by thinking positive thoughts about them, and you could decrease that lovey-dovey feeling by focusing on their bad qualities.

couple We may have more power over falling in and out of love than we think. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

This research is important; for all the joy and happiness love can bring, it can also cause grief and pain. For example, psychologists have suggested that the heartbreak of being rejected by someone you love is one of the most stressful situations a person can endure. In addition, sometimes we fall in love with people who we know will cause us pain down the road. Although love may be manageable to some degree, Langeslag insists it's easier said than done, as any lovesick high school student can tell you.

"It's not like we have an on or off switch and you think about negative things and now you're not in love at all anymore,” said Langeslag in a recent statement.

Langeslag is joined by other scientists in her infatuation with the concept of love. Past research has shown just how strong the emotion is, and revealed that it activates the same part of your brain that is activated when cocaine addicts use their preferred drug, LiveScience reported. The adrenaline that courses through your body whenever you see or even think of the object of your affection also helps to increase this feeling of desire. In addition, kissing your lover causes a release of endorphins, hormones that reduce stress and induce happiness. The combination of these physical effects of love make it one of the hardest habits to break.

Langeslag hopes to build on this past research to better understand the psychology of love. For example, next month she plans to host a scientific speed dating event at UMSL as a way to both recruit more students to her research team, and allow undergraduates to meet and mingle.

Source: Langeslag SJE, Van Strein JW. Regulation of Romantic Love Feelings: Preconceptions, Strategies, and Feasibility. Plos One . 2016

See Also:

Oxytocin, Love Hormone, Fuels Romance: How Your Brain Works When You're In Love

MRI Scan Reveals What Stages Of Romantic Love You're In Via Brain Map

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