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with Sam Garanzini, LMFT & Alapaki Yee, LMFT

How and Why We Fall in Love, Backed By Science

How and Why We Fall in Love, Backed By Science

Falling in love is the worst!

You know all those things you say you’ll never do?

  • Waiting for the call that never comes.
  • Sending a dozen texts in a minute.
  • Combing through every Facebook post to find out what they’re up to.
  • Wondering why they didn’t invite you.

You guys were really vibing – so why won’t they call you back?

Should you call them? You don’t want to seem too thirsty, right?

Max and Alex met a few weeks ago. 

How and Why We Fall in Love, Backed By ScienceWhen Max saw Alex, he fell hard. He knew instantly – they were meant to be together, forever.

Alex likes Max, but it wasn’t love at first sight. As far as he’s concerned, that stuff only happens in fairy tales.

The couple recently took our Communication Style Quiz to find out why they don’t seem to be moving at the same pace.

Falling in love plays out differently for each of us, but every way is natural and beautiful in its own regard.

Sure, you might start acting a little irrational; planning the wedding after two weeks, for instance. 

Love does crazy things to people – but when it’s good, it’s really good.

There is a scientific explanation for all of this.

The Science Behind Falling In Love
For some people, falling in love makes them feel like they’re on cloud nine. 

For others, it takes time to work through these new feelings.

When Max met Alex, he felt like he was on a rollercoaster. Everything moved so fast. 

All he wants is to be with Alex all the time and for the two of them to settle down as quickly as possible.

For Alex, falling in love is a process. He needs to learn everything about his new partner – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Falling in love is far more scientific than many of us realize.

The brain releases a chemical or “neurotransmitter” called serotonin, which makes you more flexible emotionally.

How and Why We Fall in Love, Backed By Science

When your brain releases too much serotonin, you get a little too flexible.

When you fall in love, the levels of another brain chemical called dopamine begin to rise, making you feel happy all the time.

However, a natural side effect of elevated dopamine levels is reduced serotonin levels, so your emotional responses become less flexible. 

This chemical imbalance can cause you to obsess over your new love interest.

“Why Are You So Obsessed with Me?”
Can you relate with Alex’s dilemma?

Perhaps you are dating someone new who seems to be going at a million miles an hour but, like Alex, you prefer to take things slow.

It can be alarming when it seems like a relationship is moving way too fast.

So, what should you do? How do you deal with a partner who is getting way ahead of themselves? 

Maybe you’re worried that if you say you want to take things slow, they might lose interest.

You need to be honest. If you’re aware that your new partner is moving quicker than you are, the kindest thing to do is let them know you’re not quite there yet.

Some people enjoy the destination. For others, the fun is in the journey.

Expressing this to your partner will help them understand you better. 

It also gives the two of you an opportunity to balance out your pace, so no one gets overwhelmed – or left behind.

Another advantage of taking things slow is that you and your partner get to learn everything about each other.

When you first fall in love, you tend to only see the positive things, which can make you lose focus and start to fantasize that your partner is superhuman and godlike.

How and Why We Fall in Love, Backed By Science

You may end up falling in love with the idea of a perfect partner, rather than the real, flawed human being you just met.

No one’s perfect. If you build up this sort of fantasy in your mind, it will be far more of an issue for you when your partner inevitably begins to display some of their negative traits.

Let’s be real – we’ve all got them.

Taking your time will allow each of you to learn what makes the other tick and, as a result, develop a healthy relationship.

So, what’s the secret to establishing healthy dependency in a new relationship?

Healthy Dependency… or Codependency?
Through our work at The Gay Couples Institute, we’ve learned that successful, long-term couples are dependent on one another.

In relationships, dependency is both normal and healthy.

Like Alex, some people try to avoid getting too attached too fast, which might make your partner think you have commitment issues.

On the other hand, we have codependency, which is decidedly unhealthy.

Codependency means you are willing to do harmful things to perpetuate the relationship.

For instance, a codependent person might buy alcohol for their alcoholic partner to try and avoid the negative behavior they exhibit when they’re sober. 

By enabling their partner’s dependency on alcohol, a codependent person more-or-less guarantees their partner’s dependency on them

Dependency and attachment are healthy. How and Why We Fall in Love, Backed By Science

They simply mean you are happy with your partner and excited to see where your relationship goes. 

Healthy dependency allows you to form a solid bond with your partner.

Is It Love Without Fireworks?
So, what if, when you first met your partner, there were no fireworks? 

Maybe you didn’t feel that instant attraction we see so often in romantic movies.

How can you be sure it’s love?

If you’re doubting your partner or your feelings for them, remember – love is a verb. All the things you and your partner do together are what keep you in love.

Some of us, like Max, feel an instant connection.How and Why We Fall in Love, Backed By Science

Others, like Alex, experience a slow build that ultimately leads to them falling deeply in love with their partner.

Some people have to learn what you are all about and fall in love with the real you.

It’s not all about hearts, flowers, or fireworks.

Do you feel like you and your partner are moving too fast?

Maybe you feel like you’ve reached a plateau and you don’t know where you’re heading.
Take our Communication Style Quiz and start speaking your partner’s love language.

Sam Garanzini and Alapaki Yee are Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapists and the co-founders of the Gay Couples Institute – the world’s only gay and lesbian couples counseling clinic. The Gay Couples Institute has locations in Northern California and Manhattan, as well as online counseling services available.

For more information about how the Gay Couples Institute can help you, please visit:

How and Why We Fall in Love, Backed By Science

Sam Garanzini, LMFT

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APA Reference
Garanzini, S. (2019). How and Why We Fall in Love, Backed By Science. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Jul 2019
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