The Science of Love, with Dr. Helen Fisher | Big Think

The Science of Love, with Dr. Helen Fisher | Big Think

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00:05
we all want to have a good stable relationship with somebody and one of the problems with early-stage intense feelings of romantic love is that it's part of the oldest parts of the brain that become activated brain regions linked with drive with craving with obsession with motivation and in fact some cognitive regions up in the prefrontal cortex that have evolved much more recently begin to shut down brain regions linked with this decision-making planning ahead you know people were
00:37
madly in love can fall madly in love with somebody who's married who lives on the other side of the planet who comes from a different religion and somehow they'll say to themselves we'll work it out we can work this out because of all that energy of intense romantic love and also the shutting down of various brain systems linked with decision-making so one of the things that I say to people is you know before you decide to marry somebody spend some a good deal of time with them so that some of that early stage intense feelings of romantic love
01:08
can begin to subside and you can begin to really see what you've got as a matter of fact I'm very optimistic about the future of relationships because we're spending so much time now getting to know somebody before we Wed you know great many people are having these one-night stands and friends with benefits and living together before they marry and there was a recent study in which they asked a lot of single people who were living together with somebody
01:38
why have they not yet married and 67 percent were terrified of divorce terrified of the not only the legal and the financial and the economic but the personal and social fallout of divorce and so began I began to realize maybe all this hooking up and friends with benefits and living together is not recklessness maybe it's caution maybe singles are trying to learn every single thing they can about a potential partner before
02:10
they tie the knot and in short marriage used to be the beginning of a relation now it's the finale and I think that that is very positive as a matter of fact I work with match.com I'm their senior they're their chief scientific adviser and we did a study of married people not on the site match.com of course of 1,100 married people and I had reason well if there's this long pre-commitment stage of getting to know somebody maybe by the time you walk down the aisle you know what you've got
02:42
you're happy with what you've got and you're going to build a long stable really happy marriage maybe we're going towards a time of happier marriages because relationships can end before you tie the knot so within this study I asked these 1,100 married people a lot of questions but one of the questions was would you remarry the person you're currently married to and 81 percent said yes and I think that with what I call
03:12
fast sex slow love with this slow love process of getting to know somebody very carefully over a long period of time it's going to help the brain readjust some of these brain regions for decision making you're going to get to know how this person handles your parents at Christmas or whatever holiday and you know how they handle your friends how they handle their money and how they handle an argument how they handle getting exercise in their own health and your health etc you learn a lot about the person I think we're in a fair I'm
03:43
very optimistic about the future because of this concept of slow love I'm not really in the advice business or this should business I think people should marry when they feel like marrying but from what I know about the brain if it were me I'd wait at least two years because in two years you see the full cycle of the Year twice you see how they handle Halloween how they handle Christmas or Hanukkah how they handle
04:14
you know summer fun and to see that see that twice is I think important and by the way you can sustain that intense feeling of romantic love for two years I've studied 5,000 people through match not on the match.com site a representative sample of Americans based on the US Census and a great many of them say that they've had the experience of sustained feelings of intense romantic love for somebody for two to five years so if you pick the right
04:45
person and you know how to sustain some of the joy I think you can create a long-term attachment that is full also of periods of romantic love we all want to sustain a long-term happy partnership and psychologists will give you a long list of smart ways to sustain it but I'd like to say what the brain can add I studied the brain and the first thing that you want to do is sustain the three
05:17
basic brain systems for mating and reproduction sex drive have sex with the partner have sex regularly with the partner if you don't have time schedule the time to have sex with the partner because when you have sex with a partner you're driving up the testosterone system so you're going to want to have more sex but you also have all the cuddling which is going to drive up the oxytocin system and give you feelings of attachment and having sex with the person any kind of stimulation of the genitals drives up the dopamine system and can sustain feelings of romantic love so basically having said and of
05:49
course there can be good jokes about it and relaxation about it that is good for the body and the mind so have sex with the person and sustain that brain system of the sex drive to sustain feelings of intense romantic love do novel things together novelty drives up the dopamine system and can sustain feelings of romantic love and this isn't just in the bedroom just go to a different restaurant on Friday night take your bicycle instead of a car read to each other in bed sit together on the couch and and have a discussion
06:20
about something new read new books together novelty novelty novelty sustains feelings of intense romantic love you also want to sustain feelings of deep attachment and to do that you have to just stay in touch learn to sleep in the person's arm at least start that way cuddle after dinner walk arm-in-arm down the street hold hands together now put your foot on top of his foot or her foot while you're having dinner and gently of course but stay in touch that drives up
06:52
the oxytocin system and can give you feelings of deep attachment to the partner so you want to sustain all three of those brain systems sex drive feelings of romantic love and feelings of deep attachment but we've also found out what's going on in the brain in long-term happy partners we did a study a brain scanning study of people who were married an average of 21 years and those people who were married in average of 21 years who were still madly in love with their partner showed activity in
07:24
three brain regions a brain region linked with empathy a brain region linked with controlling your own emotions and a brain region linked with what we call positive illusions the simple ability but sometimes hard to overlook what you don't like about somebody and then focus on what you do so last but not least we've now known that if you say several nice things to your partner every day I would suggest five but if you can only pull off two or
07:56
three whatever say nice things to your partner that actually reduces their cholesterol reduces their cortisol which is the stress hormone and boost their immune system but it also boosts yours so what the brain says about a happy long-term partnership is overlooked what you don't like and focus on what you do be happy express empathy for the partner control your own emotions have sex with the partner do novel things together stay in touch and say several nice
08:29
things every day and you will your brain will help you sustain a long-term deep attachment we're built to we're built to love you

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