How Music Affects the Person in Love

How does music affect the person in love?  wedding-1067934_1920We know that music is extremely important as well as influential to the person who is in love.  Can you remember the first time you were in love?  Was it puppy love, teen-age love, or young adult love?  Falling in love, unrequited love and being in love has inspired probably thousands of love songs since the beginning of time.

Why do songs and other music mean so much to us when we are pining for our loved one, or missing our loved one, or even worse, if we’ve been rejected by our loved one.  Thankfully, music can truly be a balm for the soul if we’re separated from our loved one or even just waiting for them to recognize our feelings for them.  There is definitely some brain chemistry at work.  When we’re feeling attraction or infatuation, our brains release endorphins and serotonin, the so-called “feel-good” chemicals that our bodies make naturally.  When we’re depressed or anxious or sad, those chemicals are in short supply, but when we’re feeling those great “in love” or even “in lust” feelings, the endorphins and the serotonin start flowing freely.

Even decades later, those songs can bring back wonderful, detailed memories that can warm many a cold, winter night!  I often recommend to my therapy clients that they make a list of the long songs they remember from their teen years through the present time.  Sometimes we will even listen to them during a therapy session and talk about what the words meant to them back then and what they mean today.  I vividly remember thinking that Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,” was one of the most beautiful songs I’d ever heard.  I remember slow dancing to that song in the school cafeteria in the eighth grade and thinking that I was in love.  I remember hearing Neil Sedaka sing “Sealed with a Kiss” after the eighth grade and thinking that when I had to be apart from my boyfriend that summer that I might not be able to make it.

Somehow, music intensifies the feelings that love (or infatuation) create within us.  Music enhances those feelings and also anchors the feelings in our memory banks.  As a therapist I have loved working with elderly individuals and couples, and I have seen first-hand how their eyes light up when they hear “their” songs from long ago.  I have seen patients with Alzheimer’s disease who don’t recognize their family members any more but can still recognize a song from their youth or courting years and THEN, they recognize their spouse or their child for that brief period.  The power of music is well-known and widely recognized, but we still don’t know exactly how and why it works.   Research in music therapy and music medicine is increasing all the time and I believe that one day we will understand and be able to truly harness the healing power of music.

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