You may have noticed that I talk a lot about bio-identical hormones and how they can fix what ails our aging bodies. I also understand the neuropsychology (brain science) and how hormones and chemicals affect our behaviour. One of the most important chemicals is the one that is present in chocolate. So there is a reason you, me and every woman I know may be craving chocolate. The chemical is called phenylethylamine and it gives us what I call the squoogies (or butterflies) in our stomaches.
When two people are attracted to each other, a virtual explosion of adrenaline-like nuerochemicals gush forth. Fireworks explode and we see stars. PEA or phenylethylamine is a chemical that speeds up the flow of information between nerve cells. We certainly want to bump up that feeling. Evolutionary biologists call that euphoric period at the begining of love limerence. (not to be confused with the poems about “a girl from nantucket”). It’s that love sick feeling and it wans about 9-12 months in. Which is why as a therapist I advise people to wait until after that time before making any huge life decisions. I stongly encourage people to NOT get married in the first 6 months of dating.
You can feel that compared to this rush of chemils, your attachment phase is a let down. It’s not true and dark chocolate can help you feel that rush again.
When infatuation subsides, a new group of chemicals takes over. This new type of chemical reward is created by endorphins. It’s when you start to bond as a couple. You feel cuddly, close and a couple of systems take over to keep you attached.
These morphine-like opiates calm and reassure with intimacy, dependability, warmth, and shared experiences. Not as exciting or as stressful as PEA, but steadier and more addictive.
The longer two people have been married, the more likely it is that they’ll stay married. In part, they become addicted to the endorphins and marital serenity. It is the absence of endorphins that make long-time partners yearn for each other when apart. Absent endorphins also play a part in grief from the death of a spouse.
So the moral of the story? Understand your chemisty and it goes a long way to keeping the relationship sparky. Oh, and give the gift of dark chocolate as a kindness to anyone who has lost a spouse.