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Friday, 20 July 2012 19:19

Your Brain In Love and Intimacy

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Dear Sappho,

I know I am in love with another woman. It seems like every song is to her, every thought I have is of her, and I can’t stop these lovely feelings, nor do I want to. The problem is she does not express her feelings easily. I don’t know if she fears intimacy is incapable of intimacy or just doesn’t feel the same way I do. Do you have any insight on love and intimacy and the difference between them?

Dear Between Them

Intimacy is a two way street as an emotional connection. For one woman to fall in love with another woman, a series of biochemical and psychological changes need to occur in our bodies. Sometimes we are wowed or stunned by the passion or joy that these biochemical changes initiate. It is deeper than a thought. It is a feeling. You are not imagining your euphoria. To become intimate with others one must reveal or make known what one is feeling. It is usually expressed as affection or a token of familiarity. Flirting is a suggestion or invitation to explore possible emotional connections.

Family, culture, developmental quirks, and social moral stances may have influenced healthy patterns of intimacy. Fear of intimacy could be imprinted from family since birth making physical intimacy or experiential intimacy possible but setting up impossible barriers to true emotional intimacy.

What you learn as a child is very important in building the emotional structure of intimacy however, astrological influences, past life time experiences and soul evolution are integral to the ability to bond and form intimate connections with others. Falling in love at first sight could be a past lifetime recognition or a strong biochemical signal that transmits potential and turns on the receptor sites.

"Falling in love" has a true biochemical dimension, driven through reactions in the body. Anthropologist Helen Fisher and her colleagues recruited subjects who had been "madly in love" for an average of seven months and studied their reaction to each other’s photo inside an MRI machine. When each subject looked at the photo of the loved one, the parts of the brain linked to reward and pleasure—the ventral tegmental area (mid brain center, right) and the caudate nucleus—lit up.

Love lights up the caudate nucleus because it is home to a dense spread of receptors for a neurotransmitter called dopamine. There is also a range of chromosome, hormone balances, and phenotypic variations that determine sexual classification coming into play. All are normal for the person experiencing them but not necessarily for the bystanders observing them. Though it may be apparent on some level to everyone that the reciprocating couple is in love.

You can’t fake it like an organism. It either lights up or it doesn’t. A kiss is often a good first indicator and authentic indication for most women, since most of us are not equipped with our own personal MRI machines. First love has the advantage of being a born again epiphany, over powered by heightened dopamine, making you weak in the knees, your heart either sings or feel like it is on fire often causing you to melt. My girlfriend told me she learned more about herself in one first kiss than she had during the previous 26 years.

Dopamine is the chemical closely tied to states of euphoria, craving, reward, and addiction. Biologists have linked high levels of dopamine and a related agent, norepinephrine, to heightened attention, short-term memory, hyperactivity, sleeplessness and goal-oriented behavior. Introverts show lower levels of dopamine than extroverts. Maybe your girlfriend is an introvert with a lower level of dopamine. Maybe she was taught to not express her feelings. Families who fear feelings may set up unsafe environments for emotional expression or personal intimacy leading to different life long emotional expectations.

Modes of intimacy are basically differentiated as either emotional and/or physical intimacy. Some women are more intimate after developing sexual relationships. Others like to fall in love first by establishing emotional bonds and conversation that expresses the emotional bond and connection before making intimate physical sexual contact. So my question to you is do her eyes light up when she sees you? Does your kiss ignite her flame? Do bystanders know she is in love with you even though you aren’t sure? Look for the biochemical evidence.

Love, Sappho


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