We all know what it’s like when we meet someone we really like: we can’t eat or sleep, we feel nauseous with excitement and our heart races every time we see our phones light up with a text from them. It’s a hallmark of falling in love, but it seems our body sees that love as an unwelcome invasion and treats it the same way it would treat a virus like the flu.
Being “lovesick” is a real thing. Researchers at the University of California LA took samples from 47 women who were just into new relationships and continued to monitor them for two years. Turns out, the fact that they were smitten with new partners made their body produce a protein called interferon—something our immune system usually utilizes to fight off illness.
It’s not all in your head—this is a physical thing. As the study states, “New romantic love is accompanied not only by psychological changes but physiological changes as well. These findings are consistent with a selective up-regulation of innate immune responses to viral infections… and provide insight into the immuno-regulatory correlates of one of the keystone experiences in human life.”
The study could shed light on overall attraction. In addition to wanting to figure out whether or not love affects us physically—and now we know for sure that it does!—the researchers were hoping that this type of study might be helpful in determining how attracted to our partners we are over a long period of time.
As we all know, the honeymoon period doesn’t last forever. We know that the longer we’re with someone, the less likely we are to go crazy every time we see them. It’s not that we don’t love our partners anymore but that we settle into a more comfortable kind of love. While researchers did discover that falling out of love meant your body produces less interferon, it doesn’t mean that less of the substance means doom for your relationship. It’s interesting to think about, though!
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