Why Falling Out of Love Is Actually Good for Your Relationship

Read up on the science behind what it actually means to fall in and out of love from a top neurologist.
Couple hugging on the street
maggie seaver the knot wedding planning expert
Maggie Seaver
maggie seaver the knot wedding planning expert
Maggie Seaver
Wedding Planning Expert
  • Maggie Seaver is an Associate Digital Editor at RealSimple.com.
  • Maggie writes about life, career, health, and more.
  • Maggie was an editor at The Knot from 2015 to 2019.

There's nothing like falling in love. It's an almost magical rush of inexplicably good vibes that make you feel like a brand-new person. But according to a new book by neurologist Fred Nour, MD, True Love, How to Use Science to Understand Love, which explores the complex biology behind—you guessed it—true love, the euphoric falling-in-love phase is just that, a phase. It's one step toward reaching the purest, true love with your partner. The chemicals released in the brain when you're falling in love are completely different to those released during the final stage of love, or what Nour refers to as "True Love."

In his book, Nour explains that there are two different sets of chemicals involved with the two different stages of love: monoamines and nonapeptides. Monoamines include catecholamines (dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine) and serotonin. These are the neurotransmitters responsible for that sweeping feeling of romantic love, almost like a lover's high. "Monoamines affect the early phase of love, the one that shows up in that heady rush of feeling, makes our pulse race and our minds refuse to allow us to fall asleep even though it's way past bedtime," writes Nour in chapter two, "Overview of Love." They may make us lose sleep, but we sure do like these warm-and-fuzzy monoamines. On the other hand, nonapeptides (mainly oxytocin and vasopressin) are the chemicals involved in the feeling of permanent or true love. The latter is love that will last, whereas romantic love will come and go—but when it does go, it doesn't mean your relationship is over, we promise!

Here's an excerpt from chapter 11 of True Love, "What Love Is Not—Common Misconceptions About Love" that will debunk some of your doubts about what it means to fall out of love:

Romantic love misconception

The most common misconception I hear is the belief that romantic love, which we also call sexual love, passionate love, hot love or just love, is the only love we should know. That falling in love should be for a lifetime. But remember, falling in love is monoamines-based and short-lived. True Love is nonapeptide-based and long-lasting. Falling in love is instantaneous and effortless. True Love takes time and energy. These two states aren't, and can't be, all one and the same thing.

Many people wrongly think that if we don't feel the falling-in-love feeling forever then we picked the wrong prince or princess, someone who failed to deliver the dream. Romantic love is the state of our neurotransmitters' illusions and delusions. We can enjoy this phase while it lasts but must know that one day it will end and we will one day be without romantic love. We shouldn't waste years waiting for romantic love to return. It will never come back. We should instead be prepared to move forward with the next phase of love, falling out of love, then enjoying the wonderful feeling of True Love.

Falling-out-of-love misconception

Another common misconception is the belief that falling out of love is the end of love, that love ends when the joys and illusions of falling in love disappear. When we fall out of love, it's true that our brain ran out of its extra monoamines stores needed for the romantic love phase, and this loss is permanent. There's no need to feel sad about it, though. There is no need to break up the relationship either. We just have to work on the next phase of our love, True Love.

True Love, How to Use Science to Understand Love book by Fred Nour, MD

Text exported from True Love, How to Use Science to Understand Love by Fred Nour, © copyright 2017 Fred Nour. Reprinted with permission of Niguel Publishing. All rights reserved.

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