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Surprising Science

Why Does New Love Fade so Fast?

Research shows that the exciting emotional bonds created by marriage begin to fade after just two years, but that introducing variety into the relationship has restorative effects. 

What’s the Latest Development?

After tracking 1,761 just-married individuals over the course of 15 years, researchers came to the lamentable conclusion that the boost in emotional bonding that occurs just after marriage begins to fade quickly after about two years. “In time, [romantic] love generally morphs into companionate love, a less impassioned blend of deep affection and connection. The reason is that human beings are, as more than a hundred studies show, prone to hedonic adaptation, a measurable and innate capacity to become habituated or inured to most life changes.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Beyond the practical obstacles that being perpetually madly in love with someone would pose—not much would get done if we were always obsessing about and having sex with our partners—”[e]volutionary biologists believe that sexual variety is adaptive, and that it evolved to prevent incest and inbreeding in ancestral environments. The idea is that when our spouse becomes as familiar to us as a sibling—when we’ve become family—we cease to be sexually attracted to each other.” The truth is that long-term relationship are likely to change shape multiple times and must continually be rebuilt if they are to thrive. 

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