The Evolution of Empathy, Cooperation, and Caring – And Graceful Ways to Ride the Roller-Coaster of Romance
The Dark Side of Romantic Bonding
For all their wonderful aspects, the neuropsychological mechanisms of bonding have their shadow sides, too. Let’s consider two of those.
The rewards of mating – so effective in getting people to make babies, and then stay joined to each other long enough to raise those children to semi-independent functionality – contain the seeds of two common problems:
- Those rewards – including sweet surges of dopamine and oxytocin – naturally incline the mind to seek whatever will trigger those rewards . . . even if that’s not so good for us, or others. So we keep chasing the wrong person, looking for love in all the wrong places.
- Those pleasures also make us suffer when we lose them, if the other person distances or abandons us. Recall how rejection or abandonment activates some of the regions also triggered by physical pain. Rejection and abandonment hurt.