April 2, 2009 -- Question: Why do people fall in love, and why do they fall out of love?
Answer: Many researchers actually consider falling in love to be a biologic event. And there are some researchers that can show brain changes using MRI tests to show that there are actual changes in our brain that we think of psychologically but biologically it really is a physiologic change.
But when we want to understand what falling in love is -- the best concept to understand is the concept called limerance. Limerance is that period in a relationship of great passion, when we're almost obsessed with our partner, when we can think of nothing else, when we put our lives on hold to spend time, to pull all-nighters.
We daydream about them and when we put our partner on a pedestal. When, everything they say is smart, when we wonder why everybody in the world isn't in love with our partner. That's limerance.
At a certain point in a relationship, limerance fades. It can only last about 2-3 years. At that point many would misperceive that as falling out of love, but in fact, it's really a change in the relationship.
When the partnership changes from that passionate, exciting, romance, mystery, dangerous period, to one of a stable committed partnership, and by definition, you can't live up to that level of excitement. And at that point you start to see partner's flaws, and not everything they say is wonderful and they have some bad habits, and that requires the concept of recognizing that limerance fades, but being in love, and loving somebody does not.
So, in order to really establish a good long-term relationship, we understand that falling out of love means just not putting our limits on wanting that passion all the time.