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How he propose

Signs He is Planning to Propose

Your boyfriend may be pretty good at keeping a secret in which case it would get really difficult to know when he is going to propose to you. But fortunately most guys are not great at hiding their intentions, and so it becomes quite obvious to the girl that he is going to propose way beforehand. 

It’s quite helpful to be aware of your boyfriend’s intentions so it does not take you by surprise to the point of leaving you flabbergasted. It will also keep you on your guard so you don’t come off doing something that totally spoils his plans.

Signs He Will Propose

Here are some signs that he is planning to propose: 

He gets inquisitive about your ring finger – If your boyfriend is planning to propose marriage he would most probably do it with a ring, as is the norm. The last thing he would want to do is get you a ring which is too loose or too tight. So if he’s practical he will want to know your ring finger size or at least try to get some approximation. 

The chances are that he will try to get your finger size quite covertly. You might catch him getting too friendly with your ring finger trying to measure it with his thumb. Some guys get a little too obvious by asking the girl to lend her ring for a while on some pretext or the other. 

He gets interested in your family – It’s only when a guy starts thinking about marriage that he starts taking a serious interest in the girl’s family. He might want to know how strict your father is or about your brother. He might throw in some indirect questions about whether you would be willing to marry a guy against your family’s wishes and stuff like that. He’s just making sure you won’t do an about turn on him if your family ends up disapproving him; this is an insecurity most guys have. 

He arranges a date well in advance – If he is looking to do something special on the occasion of proposing, he would have to do some advance planning like reservations at a classy restaurant or some travel arrangements. So he’s bound to ask your availability for a date well in advance to make sure he doesn’t get his plans awry. This is a good hint that he is planning something special. 

He enquires about your commitment – No guy wants to be left holding the towel after he has proposed. Most guys are uncertain about their girlfriend’s reaction even if they’ve been in a long term relationship. So he’s bound to ask you if you are totally committed to the relationship before he plans on proposing, he might not ask this directly though. If you see him talking about commitment and stability, these are hints that he’ll soon be proposing marriage. 

He keeps talking about a “surprise” – It’s quite natural for guys to want to be on the safe side and not shock their girlfriend suddenly. So if he is planning on proposing to you, he will start throwing some indirect hints hoping that you will be intelligent enough to catch on to it. The last thing he wants is for you to be caught off guard. So if he talks about a surprise he has in store for you or if he acts all excited about a date, then you can take guess that he is planning on proposing to you. 

He’s all dressed up for a date – If your boyfriend comes dressed up for a date a lot more stylishly than ever before it could be a hint that he’s got something special planned up. He’d want you to remember the day and so he will want to put on his best appearance. 

He’s preoccupied on your way to the date – If he’s going to propose to you, he’ll be mentally rehearsing the scene several times. He will want to be sure of what he’ll say and do while he proposes. Since this would be a priority on his mind he will come across as being preoccupied, in an excited way, while you guys drive to the date. 

Girls are much better than guys when it comes to keeping a “surprise”. Most guys are just open books and one can easily read their intention. So if you want to know if your boyfriend is going to propose to you, just look for anything out of context in his behavior. With most guys it’s too obvious. 


We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

We all make plans, have dreams, and set goals. Will our plans materialize or end in complete failure? The only thing certain about life is uncertainty. So, our frail attempts may end in glorious victory or frustrating defeat. Such is the nature of life. We are destined to engage in a series of celebrations interspersed with a series of disappointments. Because of this, it is important to learn how to deal with disappointment. Martin Luther King, Jr. suggests one way of coping; mainly, by accepting it. After all, disappointment occurs in just one moment of time. And hope, or the understanding that future successes will follow, lightens its burden.

The word disappointment is made up of DIS and APPOINTMENT. DIS means separate, apart, or asunder. So, disappointment describes a feeling of dissatisfaction or anguish, which is experienced when we are torn apart from our expected appointment with fate. Yet, we don't have to experience pain when things don't go our way. The negativity surrounding disappointment exists not in the real world, but only in our mind. It is not the event, but our interpretation of it that causes pain.

Every time I take a walk with a friend, Will, regardless where we go, he always finds coins in the street and on the sidewalk. Mainly pennies, but sometimes nickels, dimes, and quarters. Hundreds of people walk by unaware of the change beneath their feet. So why is it that Will, who could use the extra money, always seems to find it? There's no mysterious force at work here. Just common sense. Will finds the money because he's looking for it! This is just a simple illustration of an important principle of life, which is WE FIND WHAT WE LOOK FOR. When things don't go as I had hoped they would, is that bad? It is if I look for something bad. If I am slammed on the head by disappointment, is that good? Yes, it is, if I look for something good. We find what we look for.

For several years I participated in public speaking contests. I was a regular winner. One day, I lost in a national contest by coming in second. When I heard the verdict of the judges, I had a moment to reflect, and was surprised by my lack of disappointment. You see, I had LOST a contest, but GAINED an experience. Despite the many contests I joined, I had never thought of how the 'losers' must feel. Now I could better understand how it feels to be defeated. I gained increased respect for all the competitors who took the risk of competing. I was also thankful for the opportunity of learning how to lose graciously. Was my defeat good for me? You bet it was! Can disappointment be good for you? You bet it can! We can lessen the negative effects of disappointment, or eliminate it entirely, with the right attitude. Here are some steps we can take to develop that attitude or lighten our burden.

1. No matter how careful or positive we are, we are bound to experience grief, suffering, pain, fear, and anxiety, for they are part of life, the price we pay for the privilege of sharing in the joys of life. Since you can count on suffering, make sure you can count on joy. Do this by planning family outings, get-togethers with friends, and time to enjoy your hobbies, nature, and the arts. By constantly planning for fun, you guarantee that any grief you experience will be interspersed with joy.

2. Don't be guilty of reverse vision. That is, don't look inward when you should be looking outward, and don't look outward when you should be looking inward. Here's what I mean. Are you disappointed in friends that don't live up to your expectations? If you are, you are guilty of reverse vision. You are looking outward (at your friends' conduct) when you should be looking inward (at your own conduct). How can you be disappointed by the failure of your friends or relatives to live up to your expectations when you yourself fail to live up to your own expectations? When you see your own weaknesses, you'll be able to accept the weaknesses of others. Are you sometimes devastated by misfortune and wonder how life can be so cruel? If so, you are guilty of reverse vision. You are looking inward when you should be looking outward. How can you beat your breast and cry out, "Woe is me," when so many people are suffering to a much greater degree? When you begin to cry out, ""Woe are them," you'll start to be thankful for your blessings.

3. When you learn to welcome challenges and love problem solving, disappointments will disappear. Enjoy the thrill of being a champion by relishing battles, whether you win or lose them. Whenever things go wrong, analyze the situation and see what you can learn and then move on. If you are constantly running into hurdles when pursuing a long-term goal, just remember there is no failure until you give up, so don't! Don't you love puzzles? Life is a maze (it is also amazing). Enjoy it! When you run into a dead end, just turn around and try again! Be an explorer, an adventurer. Take risks. Shoot for the stars! To do so is to experience an exhilaration that far exceeds the power of any disappointment that may come your way.

4. You will not enjoy or win at cards if all you do is complain about the hand you're dealt. Expect nothing more from life than what it offers and you will never be let down. Welcome the opportunities it provides by making the most of the cards you're dealt. Also, don't forget to feed your mind with positive thoughts by reading good books. Then make those thoughts your own by reflecting on them. When you understand them, you will fill your mind with light. Apply what you learn by practicing it.

5. If you experience a disappointment that you find difficult to overcome without help, talk to friends. That will help you realize that you're not alone and that others have overcome similar problems. And speaking of friends, don't disappoint them and chances are they'll never disappoint you, but if they do, forgive them, for how can someone hurt you if you forgive them? If you appeal to the best side of your friends, the chances are you won't be disappointed.

6. Abandon childish demands and foolish expectations. Are you looking for the perfect mate? If you are, you're sure to be disappointed. For only God is perfect. We mortals are imperfect. If you can accept that, you can eliminate much unnecessary misery from your life. The same is true for the perfect job, perfect child, or perfect life. It doesn't exist (unless we are among a handful of remarkable individuals who have enough clarity of mind, purity of heart, and understanding of life to see nothing but goodness).

7. Finally, cultivate patience, for as Joseph Addison (1672 ~ 1719) wrote, "Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in their proper figures."

5 rules to be a happy couple

5 Secret Rules for a Happy Relationship. Shhh!
Ever since I was a little girl, I hoped that some day a Prince Charming will come into my life and we will live happily ever after. And he did! But the fairy tale has not quite started right away…
What I did not know was that between the first kiss and the “happily ever after” there are certain things a woman should learn in order to get that fairy tale rolling.
It can take months or years to discover them, so I thought I would just share this happy relationship secret with you, so that you guys do not waste your time and tears on something that would have never worked.
Back to the secret, here it is – the 5 Secret Rules a woman should follow in order to make her fairy tale happen:

Secret Rule #1:

Tell Him Compliments
They say women like compliments. What they do not say aloud is that men LOVE them. And there is nothing to be ashamed of! When it comes to compliments, we all go weak in the knees…
Where do you start? Well, I am sure your man is great, so there should be thousands of things you can compliment on. Just go with the flow and compliment on whatever he does!
Something simple like “You always make the best coffee, sweetie” or “What a great idea to park here!” wil be enough to light up your man’s face. And the best part, is that we actually think that, so basically you just need to say it aloud.
Not only the compliments will make your man happy, but they will also serve as a nice way to change your man’s behavior.

My husband used to be a heavy smoker, instead of nagging him about this habbit, I would just say: “You haven’t smoked for 4 hours, honey, wow, I did not know you had such a great will-power!”. And guess what? He would always last for another couple of hours without a cigarette to impress me, untill he finally kicked that habit!

Secret Rule #2:

Always, and I mean – ALWAYS support your man
No matter how crazy his ideas are, support your man. Wether it’s something small and insignificant (like a destination for a picnic) or something big (like his desire to change his career), you should always be there for him.
When my husband told me he wanted to quit his $120 per hour job, my first impulse was to freak out and make a scene. But I got my act together and listened to what he had to say. And guess what? Within a year he built a business which makes him happy and which brings us 5 times more than he used to make at his last job!
The thing is that there are NO right or wrong choices, they are just choices, you will never know what’s best in a long run anyway. No matter what he decides to do, just believe that he can do it. It’s your support that makes it all possible! You know that every great man in history had a great woman by his side who truly believed in him. So,be one too!

Secret Rule #3:

Take a Good Care of Him
With all love and respect to men (and I DO mean it), they are not “designed” to take care of themselves. They forget to eat regularly, they forget to shower and change/wash/put away their clothes, they are so involved in doing more significant things that these little details just skip their attention.
Men might not say it, but they absolutely need our help organizing the household. Either by yourself or with hired help – it will be truly appreciated either way.

Secret Rule #4

Learn to Cook Something
I know, I know, there is plenty of restaurants and professional chefs who can cook anything you and your man like. But that’s not the point. Here is what is:
All men without exception like to eat well. My husband does, and I am sure your Prince Charming does too. And what makes your home (except for your beauty, of course) the best place to go back to from work is… a nice home prepared meal!
It can be something simple or you can learn to cook only some part of it and order the rest from a restaurant (like I do :), but the whole “at home dinner” experience is something you two should definitely try! Your house will feel like “home” once you guys do it.
And the last, but not least:

Secret Rule #5

Always Stay Pretty and Sexy
Remember when you first started going out and you were trying to look your best every time he saw you? Just carry on doing it!
In general men feel happy just looking at a pretty woman, it’s how they are wired. So, just make sure you still are an eye-candy to your man. Try to look polished every time he comes through the door. Say “no” to old sweaty T-shirts, hair in a dull bun and a shiny face, opt for sexy robes and lingerie and it will definitely work!
And please do not underestimate sex and intimacy in long-term relationships – I saw many couples splitting over that. Just try to be as inspiring sex-wise as you used to be at the early stages of your relationship, or better yet, become even sexier! Strip dance classes in the gym did the trick for me! :)
These 5 Secret Rules are the basis of my happy marriage and the happy relationships of many of my friends. I know these tips do not sound like the advice we usually get on TV and in the magazines, but these rules worked for me and my friends, and I am sure they will work for you too! Good luck, my dear Princesses! :)

LOVE: the science of romance

The last time you had sex, there was arguably not a thought in your head. O.K., if it was very familiar sex with a very familiar partner, the kind that--truth be told--you probably have most of the time, your mind may have wandered off to such decidedly nonerotic matters as balancing your checkbook or planning your week. If it was the kind of sex you shouldn't have been having in the first place--the kind you were regretting even as it was taking place--you might have already been flashing ahead to the likely consequences. But if it was that kind of sex that's the whole reason you took up having sex in the first place--the out-of-breath, out-of-body, can-you-believe-this-is-actually-happening kind of sex--the rational you had probably taken a powder.

Losing our faculties over a matter like sex ought not to make much sense for a species like ours that relies on its wits. A savanna full of predators, after all, was not a place to get distracted. But the lure of losing our faculties is one of the things that makes sex thrilling--and one of the very things that keeps the species going. As far as your genes are concerned, your principal job while you're alive is to conceive offspring, bring them to adulthood and then obligingly die so you don't consume resources better spent on the young. Anything that encourages you to breed now and breed plenty gets that job done.

But mating and the rituals surrounding it make us come unhinged in other ways too, ones that are harder to explain by the mere babymaking imperative. There's the transcendent sense of tenderness you feel toward a person who sparks your interest. There's the sublime feeling of relief and reward when that interest is returned. There are the flowers you buy and the poetry you write and the impulsive trip you make to the other side of the world just so you can spend 48 hours in the presence of a lover who's far away. That's an awful lot of busywork just to get a sperm to meet an egg--if merely getting a sperm to meet an egg is really all that it's about.

Human beings make a terrible fuss about a lot of things but none more than romance. Eating and drinking are just as important for keeping the species going--more so actually, since a celibate person can at least continue living but a starving person can't. Yet while we may build whole institutions around the simple ritual of eating, it never turns us flat-out nuts. Romance does.

"People compose poetry, novels, sitcoms for love," says Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University and something of the Queen Mum of romance research. "They live for love, die for love, kill for love. It can be stronger than the drive to stay alive."

On its good days (and love has a lot of them), all this seems to make perfect sense. Nearly 30 years ago, psychologist Elaine Hatfield of the University of Hawaii and sociologist Susan Sprecher now of Illinois State University developed a 15-item questionnaire that ranks people along what the researchers call the passionate-love scale (see box, page 60). Hatfield has administered the test in places as varied as the U.S., Pacific islands, Russia, Mexico, Pakistan and, most recently, India and has found that no matter where she looks, it's impossible to squash love. "It seemed only people in the West were goofy enough to marry for passionate love," she says. "But in all of the cultures I've studied, people love wildly."

What scientists, not to mention the rest of us, want to know is, Why? What makes us go so loony over love? Why would we bother with this elaborate exercise in fan dances and flirtations, winking and signaling, joy and sorrow? "We have only a very limited understanding of what romance is in a scientific sense," admits John Bancroft, emeritus director of the Kinsey Institute in Bloomington, Ind., a place where they know a thing or two about the way human beings pair up. But that limited understanding is expanding. The more scientists look, the more they're able to tease romance apart into its individual strands--the visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, neurochemical processes that make it possible. None of those things may be necessary for simple procreation, but all of them appear essential for something larger. What that something is--and how we achieve it-- is only now coming clear.

The Love Hunt

If human reproductive behavior is a complicated thing, part of the reason is that it's designed to serve two clashing purposes. On the one hand, we're driven to mate a lot. On the other hand, we want to mate well so that our offspring survive. If you're a female, you get only a few rolls of the reproductive dice in a lifetime. If you're a male, your freedom to conceive is limited only by the availability of willing partners, but the demands of providing for too big a brood are a powerful incentive to limit your pairings to the female who will give you just a few strong young. For that reason, no sooner do we reach sexual maturity than we learn to look for signals of good genes and reproductive fitness in potential partners and, importantly, to display them ourselves.

"Every living human is a descendant of a long line of successful maters," says David Buss, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin. "We've adapted to pick certain types of mates and to fulfill the desires of the opposite sex."

One of the most primal of those desires is that a possible partner smells right. Good smells and bad smells are fundamentally no different from each other; both are merely volatile molecules wafting off an object and providing some clue as to the thing that emitted them. Humans, like all animals, quickly learn to assign values to those scents, recognizing that, say, putrefying flesh can carry disease and thus recoiling from its smell and that warm cookies carry the promise of vanilla, sugar and butter and thus being drawn to them. Other humans carry telltale smells of their own, and those can affect us in equally powerful ways.

The best-known illustration of the invisible influence of scent is the way the menstrual cycles of women who live communally tend to synchronize. In a state of nature, this is a very good idea. It's not in a tribe's or community's interests for one ovulating female to monopolize the reproductive attention of too many males. Better to have all the females become fertile at once and allow the fittest potential mates to compete with one another for them.

But how does one female signal the rest? The answer is almost certainly smell. Pheromones--or scent-signaling chemicals--are known to exist among animals, and while scientists have had a hard time unraveling the pheromonal system in humans, they have isolated a few of the compounds. One type, known as driver pheromones, appears to affect the endocrine systems of others. Since the endocrine system plays a critical role in the timing of menstruation, there is at least a strong circumstantial case that the two are linked. "It's thought that there is a driver female who gives off something that changes the onset of menstruation in the other women," says chemist Charles Wysocki of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.
It's not just women who respond to such olfactory cues. One surprising study published last October in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior showed that strippers who are ovulating average $70 in tips per hour; those who are menstruating make $35; those who are not ovulating or menstruating make $50. Other studies suggest that men can react in more romantic ways to olfactory signals. In work conducted by Martie Haselton, an associate professor of psychology at UCLA, women report that when they're ovulating, their partners are more loving and attentive and, significantly, more jealous of other men. "The men are picking up on something in their partner's behavior that tells them to do more mate-guarding," Haselton says.

Scent not only tells males which females are primed to conceive, but it also lets both sexes narrow their choices of potential partners. Among the constellation of genes that control the immune system are those known as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which influence tissue rejection. Conceive a child with a person whose MHC is too similar to your own, and the risk increases that the womb will expel the fetus. Find a partner with sufficiently different MHC, and you're likelier to carry a baby to term.

Studies show that laboratory mice can smell too-similar MHC in the urine of other mice and will avoid mating with those individuals. In later work conducted at the University of Bern in Switzerland, human females were asked to smell T shirts worn by anonymous males and then pick which ones appealed to them. Time and again, they chose the ones worn by men with a safely different MHC. And if the smell of MHC isn't a deal maker or breaker, the taste is. Saliva also contains the compound, a fact that Haselton believes may partly explain the custom of kissing, particularly those protracted sessions that stop short of intercourse. "Kissing," she says simply, "might be a taste test."

Precise as the MHC-detection system is, it can be confounded. One thing that throws us off the scent is the birth-control pill. Women who are on the Pill--which chemically simulates pregnancy--tend to choose wrong in the T-shirt test. When they discontinue the daily hormone dose, the protective smell mechanism kicks back in. "A colleague of mine wonders if the Pill may contribute to divorce," says Wysocki. "Women pick a husband when they're on birth control, then quit to have a baby and realize they've made a mistake."
Less surprising than the importance of the way a partner smells is the way that partner looks and sounds. Humans are suckers for an attractive face and a sexy shape. Men see ample breasts and broad hips as indicators of a woman's ability to bear and nurse children--though most don't think about such matters so lucidly. Women see a broad chest and shoulders as a sign of someone who can clobber a steady supply of meat and keep lions away from the cave. And while a hairy chest and a full beard have fallen out of favor in the waxed and buffed 21st century, they are historically--if unconsciously--seen as signs of healthy testosterone flow that gives rise to both fertility and strength.

A deep voice, also testosterone driven, can have similarly seductive power. Psychology professor David Feinberg of McMaster University in Ontario studied Tanzania's Hadza tribesmen, one of the world's last hunter-gatherer communities, and found that the richer and lower a man's voice, the more children he had.

Researchers at the University of Albany recently conducted related research in which they had a sample group of 149 volunteers listen to recordings of men's and women's voices and then rate the way they sound on a scale from "very unattractive" to "very attractive." On the whole, the people whose voices scored high on attractiveness also had physical features considered sexually appealing, such as broad shoulders in men and a low waist-to-hip ratio in women. This suggests either that an alluring voice is part of a suite of sexual qualities that come bundled together or that simply knowing you look appealing encourages you to develop a voice to match. Causation and mere correlation often get muddied in studies like this, but either way, a sexy voice at least appears to sell the goods. "It might convey subtle information about body configuration and sexual behavior," says psychologist Gordon Gallup, who co-authored the study.
The internal chemical tempest that draws us together hits Category 5 when sex gets involved. If it's easy for a glance to become a kiss and a kiss to become much more, that's because your system is trip-wired to make it hard to turn back once you're aroused. That the kiss is the first snare is no accident.

Not only does kissing serve the utilitarian purpose of providing a sample of MHC, but it also magnifies the other attraction signals--if only as a result of proximity. Scent is amplified up close, as are sounds and breaths and other cues. And none of that begins to touch the tactile experience that was entirely lacking until intimate contact was made. "At the moment of a kiss, there's a rich and complicated exchange of postural, physical and chemical information," says Gallup. "There are hardwired mechanisms that process all this."

What's more, every kiss may also carry a chemical Mickey, slipped in by the male. Though testosterone is found in higher concentrations in men than in women, it is present in both genders and is critical in maintaining arousal states. Traces of testosterone make it into men's saliva, particularly among men who have high blood levels of the hormone to start with, and it's possible that a lot of kissing over a long period may be a way to pass some of that natural aphrodisiac to the woman, increasing her arousal and making her more receptive to even greater intimacy.

When Mating Becomes Love

If we've succeeded in becoming such efficient reproductive machines--equipped with both a generous appetite for mates and a cool ability to screen them for genetic qualities--why muddy things up with romance? For one thing, we may not be able to help it. Just being attracted to someone doesn't mean that that person is attracted back, and few things drive us crazier than wanting something we may not get. Cultural customs that warn against sex on the first date may have emerged for such practical reasons as avoiding pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, but they're also there for tactical reasons. Males or females who volunteer their babymaking services too freely may not be offering up very valuable genes. Those who seem more discerning are likelier to be holding a winning genetic hand--and are in a better position to demand one in return.

The elaborate ritual of dating is how this screening takes place. It's when that process pays off--when you finally feel you've found the right person--that the true-love thrill hits, and studies of the brain with functional magnetic resonance imagers (fMRIs) show why it feels so good. The earliest fMRIs of brains in love were taken in 2000, and they revealed that the sensation of romance is processed in three areas. The first is the ventral tegmental, a clump of tissue in the brain's lower regions, which is the body's central refinery for dopamine. Dopamine does a lot of jobs, but the thing we notice most is that it regulates reward. When you win a hand of poker, it's a dopamine jolt that's responsible for the thrill that follows. When you look forward to a big meal or expect a big raise, it's a steady flow of dopamine that makes the anticipation such a pleasure.
Fisher and her colleagues have conducted recent fMRI scans of people who are not just in love but newly in love and have found that their ventral tegmental areas are working particularly hard. "This little factory near the base of the brain is sending dopamine to higher regions," she says. "It creates craving, motivation, goal-oriented behavior--and ecstasy."

When Love Becomes a Habit

Even with its intoxicating supply of dopamine, the ventral tegmental couldn't do the love job on its own. Most people eventually do leave the poker game or the dinner table, after all. Something has to turn the exhilaration of a new partner into what can approach an obsession, and that something is the brain's nucleus accumbens, located slightly higher and farther forward than the ventral tegmental. Thrill signals that start in the lower brain are processed in the nucleus accumbens via not just dopamine but also serotonin and, importantly, oxytocin. If ever there was a substance designed to bind, it's oxytocin.

New mothers are flooded with the stuff during labor and nursing--one reason they connect so ferociously to their babies before they know them as anything more than a squirmy body and a hungry mouth. Live-in fathers whose partners are pregnant experience elevated oxytocin too, a good thing if they're going to stick around through months of gestation and years of child-rearing. So powerful is oxytocin that a stranger who merely walks into its line of fire can suddenly seem appealing.

"In one study, an aide who was not involved with the birth of a baby would stand in a hospital room while the mother was in labor," says Sue Carter, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois. "The mothers later reported that they found the person very sympathetic, even though she was doing nothing at all."
The last major stops for love signals in the brain are the caudate nuclei, a pair of structures on either side of the head, each about the size of a shrimp. It's here that patterns and mundane habits, such as knowing how to type and drive a car, are stored. Motor skills like those can be hard to lose, thanks to the caudate nuclei's indelible memory. Apply the same permanence to love, and it's no wonder that early passion can gel so quickly into enduring commitment. The idea that even one primal part of the brain is involved in processing love would be enough to make the feeling powerful. The fact that three are at work makes that powerful feeling consuming.

Love Gone Wrong

The problem with romance is that it doesn't always deliver the goods. For all the joy it promises, it can also play us for fools, particularly when it convinces us that we've found the right person, only to upend our expectations later. Birth-control pills that mask a woman's ability to detect her mate's incompatible MHC are one way bad love can slip past our perimeters. Adrenaline is another. Any overwhelming emotional experience that ratchets up your sensory system can distort your perceptions, persuading you to take a chance on someone you should avoid.

Psychologist Arthur Aron of the State University of New York at Stony Brook says people who meet during a crisis--an emergency landing of their airplane, say--may be much more inclined to believe they've found the person meant for them. "It's not that we fall in love with such people because they're immensely attractive,"
he says. "It's that they seem immensely attractive because we've fallen in love with them."

If that sounds a lot like what happens when people meet and date under the regular influence of drugs or alcohol, only to sober up later and wonder what in the world they were thinking, that's because in both cases powerful chemistry is running the show. When hormones and natural opioids get activated, explains psychologist and sex researcher Jim Pfaus of Concordia University in Montreal, you start drawing connections to the person who was present when those good feelings were created. "You think someone made you feel good," Pfaus says, "but really it's your brain that made you feel good."

Of course, even a love fever that's healthily shared breaks eventually, if only because--like any fever--it's unsustainable over time. Fisher sees the dangers of maladaptive love in fMRI studies she's conducting of people who have been rejected by a lover and can't shake the pain. In these subjects, as with all people in love, there is activity in the caudate nucleus, but it's specifically in a part that's adjacent to a brain region associated with addiction. If the two areas indeed overlap, as Fisher suspects, that helps explain why telling a jilted lover that it's time to move on can be fruitless--as fruitless as admonishing a drunk to put a cork in the bottle.

Happily, romance needn't come to ruin. Even irrational animals like ourselves would have quit trying if the bet didn't pay off sometimes. The eventual goal of any couple is to pass beyond serial dating--beyond even the thrill of early love--and into what's known as companionate love. That's the coffee-and-Sunday-paper phase, the board-games-when-it's-raining phase, and the fact is, there's not a lick of excitement about it. But that, for better or worse, is adaptive too. If partners are going to stay together for the years of care that children require, they need a love that bonds them to each other but without the passion that would be a distraction.

As early humans relied more on their brainpower to survive--and the dependency period of babies lengthened to allow for the necessary learning--companionate bonding probably became more pronounced.
That's not to say that people can't stay in love or that those couples who say they still feel romantic after years of being together are imagining things. Aron has conducted fMRI studies of some of those stubbornly loving pairs, and initial results show that their brains indeed look very much like those of people newly in love, with all the right regions lighting up in all the right ways. "We wondered if they were really feeling these things," Aron says. "But it looks like this is really happening."

These people, however, are the exceptions, and nearly all relationships must settle and cool. That's a hard truth, but it's a comforting one too. Long for the heat of early love if you want, but you'd have to pay for it with the solidity you've built over the years. "You've got to make a transition to a stabler state," says Barry McCarthy, a psychologist and sex therapist based in Washington. If love can be mundane, that's because sometimes it's meant to be.

Calling something like love mundane, of course, is true only as far as it goes. Survival of a species is a ruthless and reductionist matter, but if staying alive were truly all it was about, might we not have arrived at ways to do it without joy--as we could have developed language without literature, rhythm without song, movement without dance? Romance may be nothing more than reproductive filigree, a bit of decoration that makes us want to perpetuate the species and ensures that we do it right. But nothing could convince a person in love that there isn't something more at work--and the fact is, none of us would want to be convinced.

That's a nut science may never fully crack.

5 benefits of LOVE

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Whether you're lovesick or sick of love, it's hard not to think about relationships and all they bring during this time of the year.
Difficult dinner reservations and price-inflated Valentine's Day roses aside, a steady, committed relationship does offer some benefits. Here are five ways romantic relationships can be good for you.
Fewer mental health problems
Couples may occasionally drive each other crazy — but not literally so. Overall, people in committed relationships experience significantly fewer mental health problems than single people, according to a study done by Florida State University in 2010, which observed 1,621 college students.
In fact, the study showed that those not in committed relationships who had more sexual partners also had more physical and mental health problems.
The same trend can also be found in post-college adults. Compared with those in relationships, single men and women have comparatively higher levels of depression, anxiety, mood disorders, adjustment problems, suicidal behavior and other forms of psychological distress, according to a 2002 review in the American Journal of Sociology.
The study also showed that men and women in relationships experience equal benefits in terms of mental health. However, the author acknowledged that mental health is likely both a consequence and cause of being coupled up — those with mental health issues are also less likely to be in a committed relationship in the first place.
Reduced pain
Popular ballads might bemoan that "love hurts." However, research has shown the opposite is true — love can actually help numb your pain.
A 2010 study published in the journal PLoS ONE examined the relationship between pain relief, feelings of romantic love and activation of reward systems in the brain. Researchers subjected 15 college students who said they were intensely in love to mild pain — they placed a heat block in the palm of the students' hands — while showing them pictures of a loved one or an equally attractive stranger.
The results showed that a picture of their loved one distracted them from the pain, but a picture of another person of equal attractiveness was not as helpful. Images of their brains using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) confirmed that while looking at pictures of their romantic partner, they experienced increased activity in reward-processing regions of the brain, and decreased activity in pain-processing regions.
The students also performed a word-association distraction task while the heat block emitted moderate-intensity heat. In this case, their pain levels were reduced by an average of 36 percent while they were distracted by doing the task, but decreased by 44.7 percent while they looked at pictures of a romantic partner.
Reduced stress
It's easy to assume that a low-maintenance, drama-free romantic relationship should be relatively free of stress. To boot, there are studies to back that up.
Recent studies have found that single people are more prone to psychological stress than those who are married or in a steady relationship. Relationship status can affect the production of cortisol, a stress hormone, during stressful events, according to a 2010 study by University of Chicago and Northwestern University researchers.
And a 2008 study in the Journal of Family Psychology found that women with supportive spouses experienced less marital strain and in turn, were better at tolerating relationship stresses. The researchers also suggested that partners who are satisfied with their relationship are in a better position to provide support when the other partner experiences stressful events.

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Longer life
Longitudinal studies and census data have shown that unmarried adults had a higher probability of early death than those who were married and living with their spouses. A 2000 study by the U.S. Bureau of the Census of 281,460 people over age 45 found that non-married people had a significantly increased risk of death over the study period compared with married people, even after adjusting for other socioeconomic factors. Similar effects have also been shown in Great Britain, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.
In fact, a 2011 study published by University of Pennsylvania researchers in the Journal of Aging and Health found that being continuously married (as opposed to being continuously single or transitioning between separation and divorce) led to longer lives among men with low income and socioeconomic inequalities.
Although the researchers cautioned that it's difficult to assess the causal effect of marital status from observational data, it’s possible that married people, even those who have undergone divorces, have more supportive social networks and children that stimulate continuing family contact than unmarried singles, hence extending their life expectancy.
Some lovesick couples seem to revel in showing how happy they are. They can't help it — some of them truly are happier than singles. Studies have shown that when we look at the face of someone that we are truly, madly, deeply and passionately in love with, it engages certain areas in the brain.
Brain images from fMRI suggest that early-stage, intense romantic love can activate certain dopamine-rich areas in the brain, according to a 2005 study in the Journal of Neurophysiology. These areas are associated with reward, desire, addiction and euphoric states. In fact, one of these areas, the anterior cingulate, is responsible for obsessive thinking, cognition and emotion — the characteristics of love.
Interestingly enough, the researchers also said the fMRI images of a brain in love were slightly different than the images of brains that were sexually aroused.

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