It’s Not Love, It’s Dopamine

dopamine-head

 

A friend of my recently posted a Facebook status about how the “Love is a choice, not a feeling” expression is stupid, because of course love comes with all sorts of feelings.

He then received the predicted chorus of “AMEN BROTHER!”s from a host of individuals in his young/single demographic.

I think this is an important subject, so I wanted to take a few moments to discuss it.

To my single brothers out there, here’s the deal. We all have hormones. We are all excited by new romance. We all experience intense feelings through the dating phase.

Saying “love is a feeling” is like saying “people like food” or “the internet loves pictures of kittens”. Everyone knows this already.

We don’t have a problem with people failing to understand the feelings side of love.

That dopamine though…

But here’s the other side. Anyone who has been in a 2 year relationship can tell you that many of those intense feelings are connected to newness.

Science will tell you they are connected to novelty. It’s the same reason pornography is so addictive – the newer something is, the more it stimulates feelings, be they romantic, sexual, etc.

Don’t take my word for it. Here are the scientific findings. Dating a new girl is a massive rush of dopamine to your brain.

But if we believe in the Biblical way of doing things, relationships aren’t supposed to end after 2 years. After the novelty wears off, we still have 50+ years left to go, and at some point, we’ll need to figure out the choice part of the equation.

Statistics tell us that fewer and fewer people manage to figure that one out.

The question isn’t whether or not you’ll have feelings for someone. The question is, once the feelings lose their initial intensity, do you still value that person enough to make decisions you don’t feel like making?

Anyone can do something they feel like doing.

Look to your left. Look to your right. Look in the mirror.

100% of the people you looked at make decisions based on their feelings. If even one of those people can also make mature choices their feelings don’t agree with, you are in rare company.

It’s not actually about her…

What so many guys fail to understand is that the intense feelings you are experiencing are not specifically connected to that particular girl. They really aren’t about her; they are about you.

If you were to marry that supermodel you put on a pedestal, your feelings would follow the exact same timeline as with any other woman. As time goes on, the intensity diminishes and you are left with the woman herself rather than the intense feelings of attraction, novelty, and first romance.

There is nothing wrong with attraction! There is nothing wrong with acting based off of attraction. Lord knows, you should be attracted to your wife.

But in the end, the success of your relationship won’t be defined by the feelings you experience. It will be defined by the choices you make.

I came that they may have life…

More often than not, you will feel like choosing immediate gratification, but the right choices lead to wholeness, which is far more consistently satisfying – and even more pleasurable – than immediate gratification.

Surprise, surprise! We DON’T need more people who act on their feelings.

We need more people who choose not to facilitate their own brokenness.

Jesus came that we might have abundant life. It’s Biblical.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Let’s start choosing life for a change. Let’s choose to be whole.

 

Been there, done that? Impart your wisdom to the children. Disagree? Let’s talk!

 Comment below

 

Jacob McMillen

Jacob McMillen is a professional writer, preacher, and the chief editor of Uncompromised Men. In addition to throwing down sweet lines on manly topics, he enjoys writing about theology and will absolutely steal your dignity on the basketball court. Follow him on twitter @jmcmillen89... if you dare.

  • http://www.venulas.com Andrew von Ehrenkrook

    Well said, Jacob. Your bio says worship leader, so here’s an audio analogy. Women are like sound boards. Men tend to focus and get that dopamine rush from just a couple of channels. Problem is, she is the sum of all her channels and she isn’t just some Guitar Center battery operated mixer. She’s more like what AC/DC used on their last world tour. What’s more, when you enter into a relationship with that woman you are effectively saying, “Every setting on every channel is the epitome of femininity.” You can’t make that statement if you’ve only looked at the first three channels because they made you feel good. Like you said, attraction is great, but don’t get sidetracked. Explore the rest of her channels. You’ll both appreciate it 50 years from now.

    • http://jacobmcmillen.com/ Jacob McMillen

      Great analogy Andrew.

  • Shadow

    Excellent Article!

    • http://jacobmcmillen.com/ Jacob McMillen

      Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!