Can You Choose to Love? Science Suggests You Can

Love may often feel spontaneous and sometimes even out of control. But is it, really? Research is starting to show that you can change the intensity of love you feel towards others. Similar to emotions like fear or sadness, love can be influenced simply by how you think about a situation.

Is love under your control?

One study looked at altering love feelings in people who were either in a romantic relationship or had recently broken up from one. Each participant started by viewing pictures of their current lover or their ex-partner to bring up their current feelings towards them.

Then, researchers asked them to think about positive aspects of their partner, relationship or possible future scenarios. Their feelings towards their current or previous partners were assessed again.

The second part of the study asked participants to think of negative things about their partner, such as what’s wrong with them or their relationship.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that participants reported having greater love feelings after thinking positive thoughts. Whereas, they reported decreased lovingness after the negative thoughts. It was the same for everyone, whether they were in a relationship or had recently broken up.

Researchers felt this shows great potential for people to take more control of their emotional world, which could in turn benefit their lives and relationships.

Interestingly, thoughts also appeared to affect everyone’s overall mood and feelings about life in general. The positive thoughts improved people’s mood and disposition, whereas the negative thoughts brought everyone down.

This may highlight the importance of how positive and negative thoughts in general can affect our mental health.

How can you put this to use?

You can likely think of times in your own life when it would be helpful to either decrease or increase your love for another person.

Have you ever had an unwanted crush on someone? For instance, obsessing over a celebrity you’ll likely never meet can cause more frustration than joy in your life. Or maybe you’ve fallen for someone who’s not available, either physically or emotionally.

These are times when it’s in your best interest to end your attachment to the person and move on.

In addition, research has shown that thinking negatively about an ex-partner or your previous relationship helps you get over a break-up. The reverse is also true – if you think positively about an ex, it’s more difficult to heal and move on.

Keep this in mind if you’re going through a break-up, or need to reduce your feelings towards someone for another reason.

Try asking yourself questions like these:

  • What annoys me about this person?
  • Did we ever have a fight?
  • Why were we a bad match for each other?
  • What didn’t work in our relationship?
  • What could go wrong if we stayed together?

Reframing your thoughts is also a much healthier way to try to get over someone than taking self-destructive action to distract yourself, such as drinking too much.

On the other hand, the world always needs a lot more love to go around. Increasing your love towards others is often one of the best things you can do to help yourself and everyone in your life.

Unfortunately, the top reason married couples give for getting a divorce is growing apart and falling out of love. It’s true the intensity of love usually fluctuates throughout a long-term relationship, but a decrease in feelings doesn’t have to mean the end.

If you’re starting to question whether or not you should stay in a long-standing relationship, take a closer look at your situation before making a final decision. Do you still respect and care for your partner? Do you still have lots in common? Is it possible you’re just in a temporary slump?

Questions like these may help to reframe how you feel about your relationship:

  • What are some of your partner’s best qualities?
  • Why did you get together in the first place?
  • Are there things you’d like to do with your partner in the future?
  • What makes you a good match for each other?
  • Do you enjoy spending time with your partner?

Romantic partners who view each other in a positive light have been shown to actually have happier relationships. This is likely true for all relationships. Choosing more positive thoughts can go a long way towards creating greater harmony with all your loved ones.

Sharing your thoughts and telling others why you love them is even better.

Related
Body Language Cues You Should Know
How Our Brains Process Love vs Sex
Harness the Power of Daydreams and Your Brain Will Reap the Rewards

145 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven13 days ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven13 days ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S13 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Jerome S
Jerome S13 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Mike R
Mike Rabout a month ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike Rabout a month ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike Rabout a month ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike Rabout a month ago

Thanks

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Jessica K
Jessica K1 months ago

It makes sense that choosing better thoughts would make for positive experiences, just have to be conscious of the process. Thanks.

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Sue H
Sue H2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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