It’s our belief that everything can be made better, even love. Modern science has provided us with love hacks for people already in a relationship, or those of us who are happily alone and looking. There are ways for getting there faster and making it count, all the while proving how amazing our minds (and hearts) actually are.
But if you’re a purist who thinks love shouldn’t be dissected, consider this – other than the obvious thrill of intimacy and more grounded sense of companionship, love may actually make you more creative and productive.
Love changes the way we think about everything
In a 2009 study at the University of Amsterdam, psychologists found that love alters our thoughts in a way markedly different than sex. According to Scientific American, the study shows that being in love creates a more long-term view of life where we distance ourselves from the immediate. That in turn promotes the brain’s “global processing” which allows us to be more creative, find uncommon connections among things, and think outside the box.
But as great as global processing may be, it seems to come at the expense of our analytical reasoning:
“…the authors suggest that, because love activates a long-term perspective that elicits global processing, it should also promote creativity and impede analytic thinking. In contrast, inasmuch as sex activates a short-term perspective that elicits local processing, it should also promote analytic thinking and impede creative thinking.”
So how do you take advantage of this phenomenon when you’re not actually in love at the moment? Surprisingly, even thinking about love or sex can make a difference in how your brain works. In a second study by the same researchers, participants were subliminally given words relating to love or sex, and found that they got the same results.
“…participants in the love condition generated more creative uses and solved less analytic problems than those in the control condition, whereas participants in the sex condition displayed the opposite pattern.”
You can fall in love faster with the right (36) questions
A rather interesting study conducted by psychologists in 1997 presents a set of 36 questions that are meant to help accelerate the process of intimacy between two people. As participants went through the list of questions with a partner (who was also a stranger), they found themselves sharing more and more personal details about their lives.
According to the study, “the core of the method we developed was to structure such self-disclosure between strangers.” In other words, sharing personal details about your life and being vulnerable with someone else allows couples to bond faster. Although the authors make it clear that this method was not meant to actually make people fall in love (but rather create a momentary sense of closeness), a recent essay by Mandy Len Catron in the New York Times documents her use of the 36 questions on a first date, and the results are word the read.
Here’s the full list of questions, with a sampling below:
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
Love and fear are basically the same thing
A whole cocktail of hormones are released into our bodies when we fall in love, and a major component of that is adrenaline. It’s what makes your heart race and palms sweat when you find yourself with the object of your affections.
But adrenaline is the same chemical that courses through your blood when something frightful happens as well. Technically speaking it’s a stress hormone released by your adrenal gland as part of the ‘fight or flight’ response we’re all familiar with. Typically associated with strong emotions, adrenaline can also mean feelings of giddiness and euphoria, as well as increased strength.
But there’s a special connection here you shouldn’t overlook. Because adrenaline drives emotions of love, you can mimic that same chemical reaction by sharing an exhilarating experience with someone else. Get that same adrenaline pumping and it may help speed up the love process altogether.
In fact, it’s speculated that the same process “may also explain the lure of forbidden love.” How naughty.
Make eye contact, no matter how nervous you are
Eye contact, more than anything else, leads to emotional connection. A 1989 study that researched the effects of eye-gazing among strangers of the opposite sex found that looking into someones’s eyes can significantly effect your feelings toward them.
In the first part of the study, “Subjects who were gazing at their partner’s eyes and whose partner was gazing back reported significantly higher feelings of affection than subjects in any other condition” while in the second, “Subjects who engaged in mutual gaze increased significantly their feelings of passionate love, dispositional love, and liking for their partner.” Eye contact trumps any other factor, including the sound of someone’s voice, when we fall in love.
What’s perhaps more interesting is that the way we gaze at a potential partner can be even more telling. A recent study called Love Is In The Gaze tracked the eye movements of college students who looked at pictures of potential partners. Students were then asked if the images made them feel romance or lust.
Guess what? You look at people differently depending on what you’re feeling. “Our results show that a person’s eye gaze shifts as a function of his or her goal (love vs. lust) when looking at a visual stimulus.”
It can be easy to look away when you’re with someone that you’re attracted to. Nerves and self-doubt can interfere with your natural desire to look them in the eye, but if you sense a spark, it’s best to meet their gaze. The more eye contact you make, the more likely you are to speed up your chances of a romantic relationship.
Life hacks for your love life
So what does it all boil down to? Love messes with your head.
It’s no wonder our capacity for love has started wars, inspired centuries of love songs and fueled the world’s largest industries. The next time you find yourself getting swept up, or longing to connect with someone that seems out of reach, just remember to use your mind (and these life hacks) to your advantage. Everyone deserves to enjoy the benefits of adrenaline-pumping, eye-gazing, mind-altering romance.
Go out and make it happen.