Humans are hardwired to fall out of love in the early stages of a new relationship so they can rationally assess their partner’s suitability as a potential parent, Dr Fred Nour claims
The brain is pre-programmed to cut off the supply of lust hormones at the point when getting married or having children becomes likely, research has found.
This biological function enables both men and women to step back from the “giddy euphoria” and critically evaluate their partner’s propensity to raise a family.
It explains why new relationships go through a ‘rocky patch’ and why the honeymoon phase – typified by heightened sex drive and few arguments – comes to an end.
Only once this neurological ‘acid test’ has taken place can an individual properly determine if they should commit to an existing partner or find a ‘more capable’ replacement.
The findings follow a 30-year study by Dr Fred Nour, one of the world’s leading neurologists and a global authority on the science of love.
His landmark research is published in new book ‘True Love: Love Explained by Science’, which hits shelves this week.
Dr Nour, who has been named five times by the US Consumers’ Research Council as one of America’s Top Physicians describes the process as “Sprog Fog”.
Understanding the emotional detachment it creates could, he argues, help improve the UK’s soaring divorce rates.
Speaking yesterday from his clinic, NeuroMed Care in California, he said: “My research suggests that every phase of love – from the initial feelings of giddy euphoria to a lifelong partnership – has an underlying evolutionary purpose.
“At some pivotal point in a relationship, one or both parties will experience a reduction in brain chemicals that can be best described, albeit in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, as Sprog Fog.
“This serves as an important evolutionary function in that it allows people to step back from the temporary insanity of lust and romance to objectively consider their partner’s suitability as a potential mother or father.”
He added: “Recognising that this process will occur, and that it is natural and biologically inevitable, should in my view help couples to understand the real reason why their feelings towards each other have changed or will change, and why rushing into marriage or parenthood is best avoided.”
Studies have long shown that the brain produces a variety of hormones and chemicals, and that these are responsible for the mixture of emotions people feel when they are in a meaningful relationship.
These include the sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen, the ‘excitement’ monoamines adrenaline, noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine, and the long-term bonding nonapeptides oxytocin and vasopressin.
Until now, experts believed that the brain produced these hormones and chemicals in abundance and until such a time as the body’s natural supply runs out.
But Dr Nour’s study suggests that the brain is hardwired to switch off the supply of monoamines after a period of between two and three years.
This explains why almost all new relationships enter a rocky patch and why the honeymoon period ends. It also describes the symptoms of the ‘seven-year itch’ – lack of excitement, boredom and resentment.
Without monoamines “flooding one’s senses”, an individual is capable of objectively assessing their partner’s suitability as a parent and lifetime mate, Dr Nour argues.
He calls this the ‘Falling Out of Love’ phase, and believes it serves a critical evolutionary function in humankind’s long-term survival.
The long-term bonding nonapeptides, meanwhile, are not as previously believed equally potent at every phase of a relationship.
Instead, they are only made in significant quantities once a person has reached the Falling Out of Love phase and chosen to marry or raise children with their partner.
The release of nonapeptides at this point gives both heterosexual and homosexual couples the greatest chance of happiness and lifelong monogamy.
Dr Nour proposes four distinct phases of a relationship: ‘Mate Selection’, ‘Romance’, ‘Falling Out of Love’, and ‘True Love’.
Making rash decisions before the final phase, True Love, such as getting married or having a planned baby, should if possible be avoided, he says.
“Couples need to realise that there is no true love without falling out of it first. It’s biologically necessary and only a temporary phase which allows true love to establish itself.
“From a Darwinian perspective, the Falling Out of Love phase makes total sense as the offspring of two parents in a committed relationship will benefit from that long-term bond.
“Many couples, however, dive into marriage thinking that the excitement of the Romance phase will last forever.
“When it doesn’t, even though this is entirely natural, they mistakenly think they don’t love each other anymore and divorce, or instead come to the awkward realisation that they were never truly compatible in the first place.”
Dr Nour added: “Love is seen as some sort of mysterious force, but it is fully explainable by science.
“If couples hang back on getting married until the falling out of love phase has concluded then those that still wish to wed will be far more likely to remain married for the rest of their lives, and will experience the deeply rewarding joys of true love.
Good things really come to those who wait!