The Addiction That's Stronger Than Candy Crush

Who would you rather spend time with:

  1. Your best friend
  2. Your co-workers
  3. Your mother, or
  4. Your boyfriend?

Being with certain people gives us great pleasure.

Being with others… not so much.

Have you ever thought about why that is?

Why does it feel so good to hang out with your best friend but not necessarily your co-workers?

Is it because your friend is a lot more fun?

A new study tackled this question, and it came to a fascinating conclusion:

Certain people leave a unique chemical imprint on our brain that drives us to maintain these bonds over time.”[1]

Read on to find out why he gets addicted to seeing you and how to keep that bond alive.

Candy Crush or You?

We know by now that smartphones are so addictive because of dopamine.

Dopamine is the brain’s seeking chemical. It motivates us to keep scrolling, check that new notification, make it to the next level.

Dopamine is incredibly rewarding. We’ll do anything for it.

Lots of activities boost dopamine: listening to music, eating, shopping, getting physical, gambling, taking certain drugs.

But there’s one activity that’s rarely listed as a dopamine boost:

Being in the company of someone you love.

You’re His Addiction

It’s hard to get permission to stick sensors inside human brains, so the team led by neuroscientist Zoe Donaldson at the University of Colorado Boulder did the second-best thing.

They put dopamine sensors inside rodent brains.

Specifically, prairie vole brains.

Prairie voles are a favorite in love research, because they’re one of the few monogamous mammal species.

The researchers then separated the prairie vole couples.

One brave prairie vole would have to overcome obstacles to get to its beloved.

The dopamine sensors lit up like glow-sticks as the voles pressed levers and climbed walls to get to their partners.

Like your guy when he’s on the final level of a tough video game, these prairie voles were determined. Pleasurable dopamine spurred them on in their quest to reunite with their loved ones.

Prairie voles aren’t people, but we can all empathize with that feeling.

When we’re apart from the one we love, we feel incredibly motivated to find ways to see each other again.

What this means for you:

If your bond is strong with a guy, nothing will be able to prevent him from seeing you.

It will feel intrinsically rewarding to him to overcome any obstacles keeping you apart.

Even if his efforts yield him nothing more than a few minutes in your company and a quick kiss, he’ll feel it was worth it.

The reward he’s getting is chemical: the pleasure of dopamine lighting up his brain.

So don’t worry that he’ll give up on the relationship if it’s too hard to see you.

If your bond is strong, he’ll take great pleasure in finding a way.

When Time Apart Hurts Your Relationship

In another experiment, the researchers tried something different.

Instead of separating the prairie vole couples temporarily, they separated them for an entire month.

Four weeks is an eternity for prairie voles.

Then they reunited the prairie vole couples and waited to see whether their dopamine sensors would light up.

The sensors remained dim.

What was happening? These very same animals couldn’t wait to be reunited before!

But this time, they’d been separated for so long that the chemical imprint had faded.

They still recognized each other, but the pleasurable dopamine boost was gone.

What this means for you:

That’s not to say that being apart from your guy for a month will break your bond.

We’re not prairie voles. We live a lot longer than a few years!

But it does affirm the importance of finding time to spend together whenever you can.

Being in each other’s presence keeps the reward system activated.

(And if you’re together all the time, then taking short breaks apart from each other will remind you why you want to be together.)

On the flip side, this also explains why it’s so hard to heal from a breakup when you’re still spending time together.

Spending time around your ex keeps those reward systems active. You continue to crave their company; you can’t break the addiction.

You’ll heal faster if you take a break from them for a month or two to allow that imprint to fade.

Like prairie voles, human beings are designed to feel happiest in the company of those we love. Our brains reward us for seeking out loved ones with potent pleasure chemicals. Their company truly does make everything better.


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