The Biggest Mistake You Can Make in Love is to Forget Yourself

Sarene B. Arias

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Do these five things to stay centered while falling in love.

Love is a form of insanity. It’s the very best kind of insanity, but insanity nonetheless.

Emergencies are the wrong time for rainy day planning, hospital beds are a bad time to figure out faith, and the moment you fall in love is the single worst time to consider the nature of love.

The time to look deeply at the nature of love is long before you’ve met “the one.” It’s important to learn about what it is and how it affects your body when you are levelheaded, not when you’re under the influence of the powerful chemical cocktail that is love.

What is Love?

After scanning thousands of brains and developing countless studies on the nature of love in human beings, neuroscientist and seminal researcher, Dr. Helen Fischer describes love as follows:

“Romantic love is an obsession. It possesses you. You lose your sense of self. You can’t stop thinking about another human being…Romantic love is an addiction: a perfectly wonderful addiction when it’s going well, and a perfectly horrible addiction when it’s going poorly.”
— Dr. Helen Fischer, Why We Love

Todate, scientists have performed thousands of fMRI scans on the brains of those who self-identify as “in love.” Do you know what those brains look like? They look like the brain of a drug user. A hit of love and a hit of cocaine are virtually identical for the human brain, because both directly stimulate our most basic pleasure/reward system.

Here’s a detailed look at the chemical processes of a body in love.

The Brain on Cocaine (Yellow= activation, red= intense activation) Courtesy of National Institute on Drug Abuse — fMRI scans of a brain on cocaine (Volkow, et al. , BNL)

The Brain on Love (Blue = Sexual arousal, Pink = Romantic love) Courtesy of U of Chicago News — These fMRI scans show brain regions activated by sexual desire (in blue) compared to love (in pink) in healthy patients. Red illustrates a lesion in the patient’s brain.

All of this is not to say that love is bad. Love is not bad. Its bliss. If there is a God, that God is Love. But, it’s also a form of insanity, and the better you understand that biochemical fact, the more likely you are to make good decisions.

Here are the 5 Steps for combatting the craziness that is romantic love:

  1. Know yourself. Before you welcome another person into your life and your heart, you must know yourself. Know your priorities. Know your passions.
  2. Know what you want. What role do you want love to play in your life? How important to you is passion? How about stability? Lovers and life-partners are two different things, characterize by different qualities. If you’re considering a long-term commitment to another person, you’ll be happiest if you can know which you want and which you’ve got. Knowledge is power, baby!
  3. Know how to say no. Romantic love makes us forget ourselves, whether we like it or not. But, here’s the thing…each of us is born with a purpose that we’re not allowed to forget. The key to finding balance in the face of romantic love is the ability to stick up for yourself, and that means sometimes saying “no” to your love.
  4. Know that you are already loved. When romantic love sweeps in, it is easy to feel that our beloved is our whole world, but that’s just plain not true. I love you. Your friends love you. The more you can remember that you are loved by many, the better you’ll do at maintaining your balance with your beloved.
  5. Know that love takes work, but its worth it. Doom and gloom notwithstanding, love is worth the pain and suffering it can sometimes cause. It is very simply, what makes life worth living.

Romantic love isn’t just a drug. It’s the very best drug there is. It’s free and it’s magic. It activates the senses. It makes living so much sweeter and it put’s life’s many challenges in perspective. It is worth the blood, sweat and tears that it can sometimes wring out of us.

It is what I most want for you. But, I want it for you in way that is wise and lasting. To have that, you have to see it for what it is.

It’s the best form of insanity around.

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