Why do we lose the sense of romance in love? Why is it so difficult to sustain relationships after the initial obsessive phase wanes? It looks like a pretty obvious fact that after awhile the scorching heat between a couple starts to cool down. That’s because our brain works so that we get motivated by novelty, not steady happiness. The brain reacts to novelty by releasing dopamine which makes us want to go exploring in search of a reward. Technically, romance comes from the rush is the result of the exciting getting-to-know-each-other process. However losing some steam doesn’t and shouldn’t alarm about the end of your love story. Because you’re committed to make it last, a little romance booster shot may be a way to go.
There’s enormous amount of tricks you can come up with in your mission to rescue your stagnant relationships, but the easiest would be to start with this simple thing. It won’t take too much time neither will it cost you anything. It’s called eye-gazing.
All you need to do is to slow down and look your partner in the eyes. There isn’t really a right or wrong way to do this. As long as you allow yourselves to be open to the process and expectation free, it will happen on it’s own. Because when you deeply look into someones eyes you look into their soul.
During deep eye contact the body produces a chemical called phenylethylamine which triggers feelings of affection. In 1989 researchers Kellerman, Lewis, and Laird have found that conscious eye-gazing deepens intimacy. In Study 1, 48 pairs of unacquainted, opposite-sex persons were run in the 4 combinations of gazing for 2 min at the other’s eyes or count the other’s eye blinks. Those who were gazing at their partner’s eyes and whose partner was gazing back reported significantly higher feelings of affection than in any other condition. In Study 2, with 36 pairs of unacquainted, opposite-sex undergraduates, who engaged in mutual gaze increased significantly their feelings of passionate love, dispositional love, and liking for their partner.
People from Australia-based social organization The Liberators took the experiment even further by establishing an official event for eye-gazing: Eye Contact Experiment – where you can share a minute eye contact with strangers for the sake of love and humanity. In 2015 nearly 100 000 people from 156 cities participated in the experiment. The organizers of the event address exactly the same issue, as couples seek in their lasting relationships – finding true connection with one another.
Since the official date for the next Eye Contact Experiment is not yet announces, let’s practice eye-gazing in our daily life. Because the connection is important. On average direct eye contact takes from 30% to 60% of the conversation time during – more when you are listening, less when you are speaking. Thus it is easier to practice while listening to someone instead of while you are talking. Do not force yourself to hold the eyes of every person you meet. Do it whenever it feels right. Start slowly, reminding yourself to make eye-contact in every conversation, and break it briefly every 5-15 seconds. Too much eye-contact can be as off-putting as none at all. It’s all about the balance 🙂
Featured image: iOrigins, the movie that shows how important the connection is. Cover, 2014.