When we first meet a potential partner, we see them once in a while, we are perfectly okay if we miss talking to them one day and our life goes on unhindered if they go on a trek where there is no network. But as soon as you start falling in love with their little quirks, with the way they look at you and how they make you feel every time you see them, it becomes a different story!
You begin to get so attached to your partner that their presence becomes integral to your routine. Say if you speak to them every day on your commute to work, missing two days in a row will feel strange. By the third day, you’ll start to get cranky, showing signs similar to withdrawal symptoms.
It’s not like every couple is the same. However, many couples go on to evolve in a healthier manner that makes their attachment less addictive. They will miss each other but they won’t go crazy due to the other person’s absence—not for a few days, at least.
Did you know this feeling of addiction to your partner has science behind it? This is not something we imagine but is rooted in factual observations.
When we fall in love or become emotionally attached to someone, our brain releases neurochemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals create feelings of pleasure, reward, and bonding, which can lead to a strong emotional attachment and a desire for closeness with our partners.
Love and attachment activate the brain's reward pathways, particularly the mesolimbic dopamine system. This system is associated with motivation, reinforcement, and addictive behaviours. Activating these pathways reinforces the desire to be with our partners, creating a sense of addiction or dependency.
Falling in love can also lead to changes in hormone levels. For example, oxytocin, often called the ‘love hormone,’ is released during physical contact, intimacy, and orgasm. Oxytocin promotes bonding and attachment, contributing to the addictive nature of romantic relationships.
Psychologists propose that humans have an innate need for secure attachments. According to attachment theory, we develop emotional bonds with our primary caregivers in childhood, and these attachment patterns can influence our adult relationships. The desire for connection and the fear of losing our partners can contribute to feelings of addiction or dependency.
It's important to note that while the term "addiction" is often used to describe intense attachment to a partner, it should not be equated with substance addiction. Love and attachment-related behaviours have distinct mechanisms in the brain and are not typically considered pathological.