• Part of an essay in progress

Why doesn’t romantic passion last?

Posted December 1, 2013 11:24 am  

Because human beings are not programmed for it to last. Fisher’s basic premise is that lust evolved to insure procreation and the continuance of the species. Romantic love evolved to drive the couple to choose a mating partner. And attachment evolved to keep the couple together long enough to raise offspring. According to her, the brain chemistry of the three states is complex and does not always respond as one would like, but generally the hormones produced during romantic love diminish over time as the relationship changes to a more secure and stable attachment.

“Under some circumstances, dopamine and norepinephrine can stimulate the release of oxytocin and vasopressin–and contribute to one’s growing feelings of attachment. But increasing levels of oxytocin (found in both men and women) can also interfere with dopamine and norepinehrine pathways to the brain, decreasing the impact of these excitatory substances. Hence the chemistry of attachment can quell the chemistry of romance.” (pp 91-2)

This may be for the best. It isn’t practical for people to stay in a state of heightened romantic passion indefinitely; there is too much work to do, especially once there are children. Most men will probably not agree with this assessment!


share    site feed
  • eliz   March 11, 2014 at 8:54 am

    An email response:

    Why doesn’t romantic passion last? Familiarity. Living with the hair in the bathtub.

    • eliz   March 11, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Maybe it is the reverse. Maybe we notice the hair in the bathtub because we are no longer in the crazed-passionate stage of love and have moved on to the stage in which brain chemistry changes to ensure long-term attachment.

write quick comment

How adding the biology changes the equation

  Daniel Jones, the editor of the NY Times' Sunday, Modern Love column, had a lead article in the Style Section on Feb 1, ...

explore >>

Is continued sexual passion even possible in long-term love?

Fisher argues that romantic passion is time-limited and exists to get us to choose a partner with whom we can conceive a child. Usually, passion ...

explore >>