Ever notice how good we feel when we're with the one we love, and how totally opposite we feel in the presence of those we, well, feel a lot less close to? Turns out it's more than just a feeling.
Recent research in a relatively new field called interpersonal neurobiology is proving these relationships we love deeply, and those we love, well, a whole lot less, are more than just feelings. They are actually capable of rewiring our brain and affecting our health by lowering our blood pressure, reducing anxiety and keeping us calm.
The evolving data is that all our relationships change our brains. The hard wiring may not really be that hard wired after all. From our first reactions with our mothers following birth, brain scans reveal an unspoken bond between mother and child that imprints his or her brain so powerfully that many of our future relationships evolve from it.
But this new science suggests that the story is far from over at birth. Sure, heredity plays a part, and childhood engraves an etching in our minds, but we now know through imaging studies that friendships, love affairs, romance and love also wield a powerful imprint on our minds. A longing for our initial intimacy with our mother puts us in a an unending quest for an adult equivalent.
How powerful is this quest? Potent enough to influence how our genes express themselves. And this is where the impact on health and well-being comes in.
Relationships that are caring and loving have the most significant ability to affect our brains by affecting our mental health, our happiness, our wisdom and even our medical health and longevity.
All that from being in a loving and supportive relationship. In fact, positive relationships may be the most important predictor of these positive life experiences throughout our lives.
If you think about it, when we choose our mate, we are also choosing a new group of friends and family, new perspectives, new rituals, foods and favorite places. All of these experiences plus the hormones that come with passion and excitement are believed to be a major way in which our brains are altered and rewired, and our health and perspective are affected.