Putting romance under the microscope. Here, six surprising ways love can affect body and spirit.

  • Psychologists at the University of California, Davis, found that both breathing and heart rates synchronize between lovers but not between non-romantically involved people.
  • Men tend to underestimate the value of even small romantic gestures. Richard Wiseman, author of 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot (Random House Canada), found women valued surprise and thoughtfulness more than gifts such as candy or flowers.
  • Holding a loved one's hand or simply looking at his photograph reduced women's pain from minor burns during an experiment at the University of California.
  • Co-operating regularly in unusual and adventurous activities in order to reach a goal tends to keep the spark of attraction glowing for long-term couples.
  • Here's a surprise: in almost two-thirds of relationships, it's the man who first utters, "I love you."
  • Researchers asked strangers to look into one another's eyes for a few moments for an experiment in telepathy. The subjects didn't foresee that people prolong eye contact when they find someone attractive and that the real intent of the study was to see if people would develop feelings of love and warmth afterwards—which, in fact, many did.

A version of this article appeared in the September 2016 issue with the headline, "Heart to Heart," p. 47.

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