Is love blind? William Shakespeare wrote “Love is blind, and lovers cannot see, the pretty follies that themselves commit”. Danish proverb says “Love is blind and thinks that others don’t see either”. We see many people in our lives who overlook flaws in their partners which are crystal clear to us. This leaves us wondering, is love really blind?
From a neurological perspective, when in love certain parts of brain are activated while some other parts are deactivated. On one hand we activate reward related and pair bonding regions in brain like ventral tegmental area (VTA), and ventral palladium, these areas are associated with feelings of pleasure, arousal, euphoria, focused attention, motivation, trust and social bonding. These areas are chemically driven by hormones like dopamine and oxytocin which play a role in developing addiction for, and bonding with the partner. On the other hand we also deactivate some regions of the frontal cortex, parietal cortex, mid-temporal cortex, and amygdala. The deactivation of these brain regions result in relaxation of judgement and reason. The deactivated areas of brain are also associated with negative emotions and social judgement. Due to this inhibition of reasoning, logic and judgement we overlook some fatal flaws and turn blind eye to them. This explains that areas of the brain that would normally allow the individual to ‘see’ what perhaps they should see, are suppressed. This hampers our thinking, reasoning and judgment abilities which makes us neurologically blind.
For our brain falling in love is a stress reaction which causes alarm bells to ring in amygdala-the primitive part of brain- which causes the release of stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol serve two purposes, it narrows our vision and makes us feel excited. Therefore the excitement which we feel when we are in love is due to this stress hormone. We cannot think straight when we are stressed out therefore, we overlook flaws in our partner. Therefore, we are neurologically blind when we are in love.
From a psychological perspective, when in love, our perception of partner is idealistic rather than realistic which creates a positive illusion of what we want to see rather than what is actually there. Research shows that individuals view their partners on the lines of their own ideals and self-images rather than their partner’s reported attributes of themselves. This means that we see only those things in our romantic partner which we want to see and overlook things which we don’t want to see. This is how we ignore some realities which actually exist. Therefore, to a certain extent we are psychologically blind as well when in love.
From an evolutionary perspective these findings can be rationalize in a way that the fundamental requirement for survival of species is the ability to reproduce. Therefore due to the suppression and shutdown of certain brain regions, we do not critically assess or judge our sexual mate. Instead other circuits in brain which are associated with reward, focused attention and goal directed behavior are turned on which helps us reaching our survival goal through reproduction. This help us in finding the suitable mate without being too much critical about the flaws. Therefore this blindness in love is advantageous from an evolutionary point of view and plays an important function in the form of passing on the genes and survival of species by reproducing.