Many say you should follow your heart when it comes to falling in love, but new research has found our minds control this process more than we thought.
According to the study by psychologists at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Erasmus University Rotterdam, people can use their thoughts to increase how much they love someone, The Wall Street Journal reports. People can also choose to decrease love, to ease a broken heart after a breakup for example, in a procedure described as "love regulation."
To find out how thoughts can govern love, the researchers compared a group of 20 people who were in a long-term relationship with another 20 who had recently come out of one.
The participants, who brought in 30 pictures of their current or ex-partner, were asked to think both positive and negative thoughts about that person and their relationship. They were also asked how infatuated with and attached to the person they felt, and had their brainwaves measured. The Late Positive Potential (LPP) brainwave was studied closely, as this is said to be stronger when focusing on something emotionally relevant.
This test found that after thinking positive thoughts, people said they felt more connected to their partners and were able to "up-regulate" their love. After focusing on the negatives, the participants "down-regulated" their feelings and had weaker LPP brainwaves.
For lead researcher Sandra Langeslag, the results could change people's attitude to falling in love. "People think they can't control love so they might not even try," she told the WSJ. "But this study shows you that you can."
However, as one psychologist has pointed out, this doesn't mean love shouldn't be disciplined. "Control implies suppressing it and being king or queen of it," Susan David, from Harvard Medical School, added.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.