Can you get a natural high from dating?
Every stage of the dating process, from getting matches to starting communication, is exciting. When you meet someone you really connect with, and who is keen to get to know you better, it usually leaves you feeling good about yourself. That ‘high’ feeling isn’t just the excitement brought on by the possibility that you could be embarking on a new romance – there are also psychological and biological factors at play.
The American psychiatrist Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Travelled, examined the psychological states of people when they fall in love. His conclusion was that human beings often suffer from loneliness. People are looking for the experience of complete love and wholeness they experienced as small babies with their mother. This loneliness we feel is what makes us want to find a partner and has a biological as well as a psychological function – it encourages us to procreate which is nature’s way of ensuring the continuation of the species.
When we meet a new partner we get a temporary relief from that loneliness and it is an amazing feeling –‘The essence of the phenomenon of falling in love is a sudden collapse of a section of an individual’s ego boundaries, permitting one to merge his or her identity with that of another person. The sudden release of oneself into the beloved, and the dramatic surcease of loneliness accompanying this collapse of ego boundaries is experienced by most of us as ecstatic. We and our beloved are one! Loneliness is no more!’
Peck makes it clear that this is a temporary feeling which will pass when the ‘honeymoon period’ is over. While it lasts it feels fantastic and allows us to get close enough to another person in order to begin building the foundations for real and lasting love.
When we do something for the first time, or anything that scares us, our body responds by releasing certain chemicals into the bloodstream. The biological symptoms of increased heart rate; butterflies in the stomach, shallow breathing and sweaty palms are due to the chemical adrenalin which is responsible for the flight or flight response and also prompts a heightened state of awareness.
An actor will often feel nervous before the first night of a performance no matter how experienced he/she is. Most actors say the nerves are good as they help them give their best performance – the same is true of dating. It is good to be excited, aware and alert when you go on a date and you will get the same feeling every time you meet someone new – it is how you deal with the feelings which will make the difference to how successful you are.
Endorphins are released in response to excitement or stress. These are the pleasure giving chemicals ‘thrill seekers’ crave. They are produced by the pituitary gland and like opiates they produce natural pain relief and feelings of well being.
The biological high produced by the combination of adrenalin and endorphins often lasts far beyond the first date. The chemicals may be released with every milestone you encounter as a couple and even during times when you are not together but are thinking about your love interest.
Although the chemical responses do eventually settle down the high that you experience through dating is very real and can have a positive effect on all parts of your life as you feel more confident, powerful and optimistic.
Dating is not the only activity which will produce these highs. Meeting new people; coping with personal challenges and engaging in new and exciting activities will all enrich your life and make you feel good about yourself.
Even if you are not naturally optimistic and confident you can make a commitment to try and see the best in life and extend yourself in ways that will help you grow. This commitment will naturally make you more attractive to others and draw situations into your life that could induce more natural highs.
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