A lot of people come to the realization “love is blind” the hard way. It’s an unsettling idea, one that can sort of make you cringe, especially as you think back and reflect on old flames and relationships past.
The greater notion of “blindness” is uncomfortable in general. Whether you’re blinded by the money or greed in the figurative sense or literally by some medical condition, the inability to see what’s in front of you can be unnerving.
When this blindness is pertaining to someone you thought you knew – someone you thought you knew better than anyone else – it’s especially chilling. And this is usually the case with two people who are in love.
In fact, that’s what makes being in love different from any other type of relationship. Love promotes transparency and, to some extent, requires it as well. That’s the beauty of love; once you find it, you let your guard down.
And, in return, you expect them to let theirs down too. Love always works most efficiently when the two invested are on the same page, and eventually, you’ll find a level of comfort in having someone who knows you before all else.
Over time, however, it’s not uncommon for this comfort to become complacency. That’s human nature. When people have things for too long, it’s usually a matter of time before they start taking them for granted.
With loved ones, people will become so accustomed to having someone “they love” that they forget the reasons they even fell in love with that person in the first place.
In many cases, the greater concept of “love” will grab the steering wheel from the finer points of one’s character, which may have truly been the origins of passion.
Well, according to scientific evidence, there may be some concrete evidence behind the blinding nature of love. As reported by BBC News, it appears that “once we get close to a person, the brain decides the need to assess their character and personality is reduced.”
So, while love might not be totally blinding, according to Sara Reistad-Long of CNN, it can definitely blur your vision.
Using one study conducted by the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience at the University College London (UCL) – aimed at comparing maternal love and romantic love – Reistad-Long reported there are many similarities and overlaps found in the brain areas activated by romantic love with a partner and maternal love.
In other words, a mother’s love for her own child is – neurologically – the same as the love she feels for her own husband, scientifically speaking. In essence, all loves are the same – or they activate the same parts of the brain at least.
Reistad-Long continued to explain that the parts of the brain affected by love are not exclusive to love and are also shared by other “reward systems” – like food, money and drugs – further supporting the idea that love is a just a chemical by any other name.
As reported by Reistad-Long, “gamblers and drug addicts experience similar dopamine activity” as someone who is in love.
Unlike other reward systems, however, love does not solely “activate” certain areas of the brain. In fact, as Kate Melville of Science a Gogo suggests, one of the most compelling functions of love is its ability to “deactivate” specific neural zones.
According to Andreas Bartels, who was involved with the research done by UCL, the overlapping of activity throughout the different parts of the brain, particularly the prefrontal cortex, “inhibit not only negative emotions but also affects the network involved in making social judgments about that person.”
This is why, despite the numerous rumors you might have heard about your unfaithful girlfriend, you have failed to even consider breaking up as an option. In your mind, she can do no wrong despite the presence of any signs pointing toward the contrary.
Bartels notes that “social judgments” are perhaps the most vulnerable in the presence of love. This is especially concerning, being that the majority of “issues” people experience within relationships (in today’s digital society) revolve around those social in nature or social in media (pun intended).
But why does love – something that’s widely considered as “supremely” positive – work in such a negative fashion? Well, as Bartels and his colleague Semir Zeki suggest, we naturally chase the sense of “reward” we feel from love.
In response, our brain flicks a theoretical “switch,” and suddenly we can see no flaws. As Viren Swami and Adrian Furnham write for The Psychologist, however, this doesn’t last forever.
Anyone who’s had his or her heart broken could probably attest to this, too. While we might’ve been blind briefly, it’s usually just a matter of time before we ask ourselves, “How could I not have seen the warning signs?”
Well, it’s not that simple. As science indicates, most people won’t be able to see any faults about their lovers until their love has cooled down.
According to Swami and Furnham, most flaws within our partners become more apparent when our initial feelings of infatuation have settled down, so to speak.
This is why you’ll usually kick yourself, months after a relationship is over, wondering how you didn’t notice certain flaws from the start.
Well, now you know, and although you can’t go back in time and change any of your past relationships, you can at least proceed toward your future ones, with more clarity.