You’re not just imagining things.
Ever pass a stranger on the street and suddenly, an entirely fictional relationship flashes before your eyes?
He’s a passionate lover with strong hands. You see yourself at his parent’s house during the holidays—sitting beside him near the fireplace, playing games and sipping eggnog. Your wedding would be of the rustic barn variety. You’d have two beautiful kids (a boy, Austin and a girl, Hailey). It’s burning love at first sight, and you know he feels it —until the tall, strong-jawed man walks into the 7–11 and out of your life forever.
For all my fellow romantics who fall in love each morning on the train, I offer you some validation. A study by Syracuse University found that when you see a person that strikes your fancy, it takes just one-fifth of a second for your brain to release cocaine-like euphoric chemicals. The chemicals are so intense, they instantaneously affect 12 different parts of the brain. Even more impressive, they’re complex enough to introduce two different types of love: passionate and companionate love.
Passionate love is the initial rush us loveaholics experience when we spot a cutie on the train while companionate love is what grows between couples over time. This means that Romeo and Juliet-type love is actually feasible!
According to the research, experiencing the same jolt of emotion isn’t limited to sight. Just thinking about your loved one can light up your brain like a Christmas tree and release the same hormones as if you were standing face-to-face IRL.
Researchers who conducted the study admitted their findings proved love is a very unique emotion, stating,“These results show that love is more than a basic emotion. Love is also a complex function including appraisals, goal-directed motivation, reward, self-representation, and body-image.”
So, the next time you imagine a stranger on the train pulling you into their arms and embracing you with a strong, yet gentle open-mouthed kiss, don’t beat yourself up. Even if they get off before you, in that moment, your love was real—at least, according to your brain.