The Importance of Learning How to Love Another Person – Emotional Well Being
Love is an ever-changing group of behaviors and emotions characterized by intense intimacy, romance, dedication, and emotional connection. It entails intense caring, emotional intimacy, emotional closeness, trust, security, attraction, and sharing. Love can vary greatly in intensity and may change over time as people continue to experience their love for each other.
Many neuroscientists believe that passionate love and sexual attachment are strongly connected to our biological and psychological make up. Neuroscientist Gregory Fabiano of the University of Nairobi in Kenya and his colleagues analyzed the connection between biology and sexual differentiation. The study compared the neural pathways activated during different sexual experiences in humans with those activated during non-sexual activity. The scientists found that when men experienced a strong sexual desire, a large amount of brain cells in the pulpitate region of the brain were activated which linked these feelings of sexual longing with divine love.
Another important finding from the research was that there is an impact of hormones on this process. Hormonal changes during the development of passionate love can alter the brain’s neural pathways resulting in feelings of love for another person. For women, the brain pathways that are activated include the orbitofronto-striatal cortices which include the ventral tegmental area (VTA), the nucleus accumbens, the periaqueductal grey matter, and the hippocampus. For men, the brain areas activated include the amygdala, the anterior basal ganglia, the midbrain, the cerebellum, the substantia innigosa, and the tuberosum.
Past studies have focused on the relationship between physical and mental health, but researchers were not aware of the role that emotions play in loving relationships. The new studies revealed that being more emotionally invested in a romantic relationship reduces health risks associated with depression, anxiety, poor coping skills, poor health, substance abuse and smoking. These same negative emotions also reduce coping skills and decrease life expectancy. This suggests that having more intimate and passionate relationships might be good for your physical health as well as your mental health.
Research has shown that when you start out with more positive emotions your likelihood of getting involved in dangerous and risky behaviors decreases and you become less inclined to take risks. Conversely, the flip side of the coin is that when you start out with more negative emotions your likelihood of getting involved in dangerous and potentially self-destructive behaviors increases. This is likely due to the fact that your brain processes negative emotions as fear and thoughts of self-destruction. Positive emotions, on the other hand, are processed as excitement, hope, and enthusiasm. Positive emotions result in a stronger immune system and increased feelings of well-being.
As you can see, one of the major results of learning how to love another person involves taking a proactive approach to improving your emotional well-being. Developing and implementing healthy coping skills and replacing harmful patterns with positive ones will go a long way in preventing emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety. In addition, being around a positive and vibrant relationship for a substantial amount of time can also have profound positive benefits on our emotional health. Although healthy, fulfilling, loving relationships may not cure all negative emotions, they certainly improve them and can help prevent or minimize the negative effects of depression and other emotional disorders.