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Long-Term Romantic Love Is Possible, Just Rare

Romantic love, the butterflies-in-the-stomach early stage of romance, is generally considered unsustainable. After all, it takes loads of the feel-good chemical dopamine to create love's euphoria — so much that it would take a cocaine habit to sustain it. Though this at least explains why breaking up can feel like withdrawal, it paints a rather grim picture of the lifelong relationship.

Yet there are a handful of couples who claim to still be in knee-bending love decades into marriage, and now there's proof they're not lying, crazy, or codependent. Researchers at Stony Brook University found 17 people who had been married an average of 21 years and people newly in love. Each gazed at an image of their beloved while researches compared scans of their brains. The married people showed just as much dopamine activity as the newly in love and far less of the negative feelings — anxiety, pining, and intrusive thinking — associated with it. So it's like new love but better!

While we know a successful marriage can't exist on companionate love alone, nobody really knows how two people can stay infatuated for life. All researchers can say is couples with lasting romantic love have more sex than other married couples their age, but whether that's a byproduct or a contributing factor is unknown. There is hope, though. Whether a relationship relies more on romantic or companionate love, happy couples have one thing in common: they help each other expand their ideas about themselves.

Image Source: Thinkstock
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kissforbrenda kissforbrenda 5 years
I agree with lizlee89 on this statement .. love is an action, and the only reason that more people don't "stay in love" (which, by the way, is different than loving a person) is that we have all become so selfish and inconsiderate that we are not willing to love no matter the circumstances. I've seen happily married happy older people, they still have moments yes, What I have seen and took note of is they always make time for each other, And give each other breathing space.And still give those sweet smiles that say " I so appreciate you."
kissforbrenda kissforbrenda 5 years
I agree with lizlee89 on this statement .. love is an action, and the only reason that more people don't "stay in love" (which, by the way, is different than loving a person) is that we have all become so selfish and inconsiderate that we are not willing to love no matter the circumstances. I've seen happily married happy older people, they still have moments yes, What I have seen and took note of is they always make time for each other, And give each other breathing space. And still give those sweet smiles that say " I so appreciate you."
lizlee89 lizlee89 5 years
what is wrong with you people that you act like love is this super rare, unnattainable thing? love is an action, and the only reason that more people don't "stay in love" (which, by the way, is different than loving a person) is that we have all become so selfish and inconsiderate that we are not willing to love no matter the circumstances. I personally know tons of couples who are still have a wonderful, loving relationship after many years of marriage - in fact, I know more people who are happily married than people who are bitter and/or separated/divorced. stop believing the media that marriage doesn't work and everyone is unhappy and divorced; it's possible if you choose to put your significant other's needs first...
Annie-Gabillet Annie-Gabillet 5 years
Love this. My grandparents were married 63 years and acted like lovestruck kids the whole time.
lickety-split lickety-split 5 years
My parents met at 15 and 18. Love at first sight for each of them. Married for 50 years. Super happy, dress like twins and make you gag happy. Which is not to say they didn't have their moments. But yeah, hard to beat that.
bryseana bryseana 5 years
My neighbors have been together since they were teenagers and now they're in their 80s. It's pretty sweet and inspiring.
Girl-Jen Girl-Jen 5 years
Hey, that's kinda cool! I hope that happens to me someday. And even if it doesn't, knowing that it happens to other people just makes me happy.
amber512 amber512 5 years
That couple is so adorable!
amber512 amber512 5 years
That couple is so adorable!
Epicdoodle Epicdoodle 5 years
After reading and hearing over and over again about couples splitting up its nice to have an article like this, so sweet!
Epicdoodle Epicdoodle 5 years
After reading and hearing over and over again about couples splitting up its nice to have an article like this, so sweet!
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