For example, happiness, commitment to the partner and relationship satisfaction are each related to the intensity of brain activation.
Oxytocin and vasopressin are the hormones most closely associated with romantic love.
(I might add that one of the pleasures of getting older is knowing how to deal with the inner judge before he becomes the torturer, to pet and calm him like a good animal trainer, a horse whisperer. I’m a product of my culture and of the advertising that swirls around us, presenting beauty as a 19- or even 16-year-old, perhaps, in Victoria’s Secret lace or a Calvin Klein string thong, with her bee-stung lips and sulky face. And then there’s the study about online dating from last summer that claimed men’s sexual desirability peaks at age 50 while women’s is highest at 18 (and falls from there). Later, men took second place in the currents of my life to interests and family and career, but they’ve always held a high place in my consciousness. I should say that I have never been happier than in these later years, never more filled with wonder and delight. To hear Modern Love: The Podcast, subscribe on i Tunes or Google Play Music. Continue following our fashion and lifestyle coverage on Facebook (Styles and Modern Love), Twitter (Styles, Fashion and Weddings) and Instagram.
When I was young, these harsh judgments could send me spiraling into depression for days.)My admirer, if I can call him that, is not the only younger (or older) man to express affection for me, but I assume those men have meant it the way someone may say, “I love tomatoes.” They appreciate my openness, my playfulness, my sense of wonder and joy. I have no desire to take him up on his sweet confession, but he has made me stop and think — about myself, about age, about life. So what can it possibly mean for a woman like me, in her early 80s, to be told I am still feminine and attractive? Sex and power were linked for me, and the freedom of my sensuality was an expression of my own confidence and love of life. I think sometimes I’m back to being a 9-year-old (only with a creakier body), filled with joy at being alive and with none of the damage that the raging rivers of hormones later inflict.
Instead, this man 30 years younger than I screwed up his courage to blurt that he felt attracted to me. Yes, the writer Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, who married the novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, took up after his death with a young writer, Ned Field, nearly 40 years younger and wild about her when she was in her 70s (which 100 years ago was the equivalent of today’s 80 or 90).
She was, he wrote, the only woman in the world worth dying for. I didn’t tell him how embarrassed I felt, with wrinkles on my face and liver spots on my hands, so ashamed by my visible signs of aging that I no longer like to look in the mirror.And later, sex in long-term relationships can become routine. As we age, we can gain a comfort level with ourselves that lets us pursue whatever we wish, without shame. Even my mother’s reproving voice died down long ago (mostly), and I have felt myself free to choose whom I wanted — or not — and to act from my core. These hormones act on numerous systems within the brain and receptors are present in a number of brain areas associated with romantic love.In particular, oxytocin and vasporessin interact with the dopaminergic reward system and can stimulate dopamine release by the hypothalamus.After her death he married her daughter, only 20 years older than he, and who knows how she felt about not being the only woman worth dying for. Or how my heart lifted with pleasure at his compliment, at the same time that somewhere in the back of my mind I became a scolded child again, curling like a cooked oyster before my mother’s disdain: “Shame on you! ”I no longer remember what she was scolding me for, but I know that voice well, that of my inner judge thundering up the basement steps to flog me for my hubris. When I was 20, flooded by hormones and unable to keep my eyes and quivering senses from every boy, I thought it was about physical beauty, or sensuality, and I thought it proper to heighten the interest of others by wearing miniskirts and floating fabrics.On the morning of our conversation, I was swept by a confusion of emotions, including the embarrassment of not having thought of the younger man in that way. After my admirer left that day, it took me a good hour to quiet my inner judge and send him hulking back down the cellar steps of my consciousness to prowl grumbling and mumbling. I find myself buying into our cultural concept of age, which says I’m ugly now, a hag. But why is it that a man can be desirable his whole life long and a woman can’t? It was all about sex, nature’s way of propagating the species. Her latest novel is “Love, Alba.”Modern Love can be reached at [email protected] funniest moment happened in Italy, where, as a young student, I had grown accustomed to walking down the street in a mist of commentary: “Bellina, bella.”Later, visiting Florence in midlife, I heard two boys on a motor scooter cry out behind me, “Bellina! ” And then, as they passed: “Ah, scusa, Signora.”I broke out laughing. It turns out she is immortal, having walked through the flames of eternity, which are found deep in underground caverns.Over time, I grew to appreciate the freedom of not having to wear stilettos, attract anyone or struggle for the exquisite body I once had. She wants him to become immortal as well and to live with her, but he is too fearful of the fire to enter.Hence brain activation in response to romantic partners appears to both reward social interaction and impede negative responses.The extent to which the brain is activated during early stages of a romantic relationship appears to influence both our own well-being and the extent to which the relationship is a success or failure.