Study: Can love last forever?

February 12, 2009 3:36:43 PM PST
Valentine's Day is all about love. And it turns out, love really does last forever. So why do researchers say that is the case? We met one couple who is living proof.

A stroll down the block, a sweet kiss. They're like a new couple. But Mary and Roger Bow have been married for 22 years.

"The passion is there," she said. "He's the best kisser."

They get excited to see and touch each other, even after all these years.

But according to conventional wisdom, you'd expect that intense love to fade or change with time. But there's new research that says otherwise.

"One question we had was it possible to stay in love after 10 20 30 years of marriage?" Dr. Bianca Acevedo said.

Dr. Acevedo researched the subject of love for two years at Stony Brook. Through interviews and brain imaging, she found that yes, romantic love can persist through the decades.

"It was surprising that when you specifically look for people who are in love for a long time, you do see they are still excited and in love with their partner of many years," she said.

When shown pictures of their loved ones, the area of the brain that deals with rewards, craving and pleasure lit up among those in both new and long term loving relationships.

But while the newer lovers often experience heightened anxiety, the couples who've been together for years experience something way better, a flow of dopamine that allows them to be happier, less stressed, less depressed and even less pained.

So?

"Go fall in love and stay in love," Dr. Acevedo said.

If only it were so easy. Your brain can't fake how it responds, so either the love is real and working for you or it isn't. And in the case of this couple, clearly it was right on from the beginning.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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