Helen Fisher, PhD

This is Your Brain on Heartbreak

Love changes us at a physiological level, making us more sensitive to joy—and to pain.
By Florence Williams

We all know that when love is good, it’s really good. Research shows that romantic attachments, when they’re healthy and supportive, can be immensely beneficial for our health. Married people tend to live longer than single people and seem to fare better when seriously sick. But as poets and pop singers have long told us, when love goes awry, it hurts like nothing else. After my marriage ended—not by my choice—I found some comfort in art, but what I really wanted was science. I wanted to know why we feel so operatically sad when a romantic attachment dissolves. What I discovered is that love changes us so deeply—at a physiological level—that when it’s lost, we hurt more than if we had never loved at all.

Read more at TheAtlantic.com (opens in a new window)