How Science Can Help You Fall (and Stay) in Love

Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina introduces the November/December issue of Scientific American MIND

Is there anything more powerful in human society than a steady gaze? I once, for instance, completely flustered and enraged a careless driver who nearly ran over my then toddler and stroller-riding infant daughters and me as she rolled into a gas station simply by calmly staring at her. I didn’t say a word or make a gesture. “What are you looking at?!” she yelled. It’s no wonder, actually: humans are so visually oriented and so social as a species, it would be surprising if we did not respond to the looks of others.

Peering into each other’s eyes, then, naturally has a strong influence on that most social of activities: creating a personal, shared bond as we fall in love with another. As psychologist and contributing editor Robert Epstein writes in the cover story, “How Science Can Help You Fall in Love,” the relationship-cementing effect of mutual gazing is well documented by researchers. Epstein relates some fascinating examples of his experiences with study subjects and others in his thought-provoking article. Who says science isn’t sexy?

Once you find your bliss, how do you maintain that passion over the decades? That is the subject of the feature “The Happy Couple,” by wellness consultant and writer Suzann Pileggi. As a person who recently celebrated 20 years of marriage myself, I was curious to find out how I’ve apparently stumbled on the ingredients necessary for this achievement. As Pileggi shows, it is not enough to be there for your partner when he or she suffers bad news or a health crisis. It’s even more critical to be warm and supportive when your loved one gets good news. If it happens frequently enough, a seemingly neutral “That’s nice, honey” to your main squeeze’s good news can squelch romantic fires, crippling rapport over the long term. In my case, my husband also has taught me, without saying anything specifically, how to think as part of a couple, rather than an individual, by always acting in ways that work best for both of us. Read Pileggi's feature to find more secrets of success for couples.

Note: This story was originally published with the title "Look of Love"

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