Friday, March 12, 2010

Endless Love?

Romance and science aren’t the most traditional bedfellows – perhaps with the exception of that ultimate first date make-or-break, ‘chemistry’. However a recent LA Times article revealed that increasingly scientists are finding the chemistry concept isn’t just a metaphor for the sparks that fly (or fizzle) when two people meet.

Love and attraction causes real changes in the brain, releasing high levels of the chemical dopamine which provides that first buzz, and then later bonding hormones like vasopressin and oxytocin. And researchers are using MRI machines to observe and measure these effects, with some surprising results.

I was intrigued by one study which showed feelings didn’t have to fade over time. Bianca Acevedo at UC Santa Barbara took the brain scans of people still blissfully happy together after twenty years of marriage, and compared them to the brains of love-giddy new couples. Surprisingly, she found they shared those same chemical patterns – that it is possible to maintain long-term the thrills of first love, rather than face an inevitable slide into happy-but-boring attachment.

Nice to know, and tips from researchers like Acevedo on building romance work across all relationships, from personal friendships to billion dollar brands:

  1. Keep things exciting – Surprise people in creative ways, stimulating the senses and take them back to the romance of the first time,
  2. Be thoughtful – Don’t become complacent about your most loyal customers, celebrate them and remind them every day why they chose you in the first place.
  3. Be empathetic – Listen, share, support and encourage involvement with you.

Simple stuff, and in commerce often forgotten by marketers who pour energy into new relationships, assuming old ones will stay true no matter what. Don’t fall into that trap – keep the love alive.