What Happens to Our Body When We Watch Romantic Movies
We sit down in front of screens to watch awkward moments and stories of people who fight until they realize they love one another. We hold our breath when couples finally run into each other’s arms. Stories are one of the most powerful forms of communication we know.
Our brains react, we learn, and we communicate with others through romantic stories. We at Bright Side set off to find out why, and this is what we’ve learned.
1. They make our hormones work for love.
Engaging with a story makes parts of our brain simulate the emotions the characters are depicting. This is a neural response known as “transportation.” Our brains release the “love hormone” Oxytocin, the neurochemical responsible for empathy, and our bodies react.
Our palms sweat, our breathing alters, and our hearts beat stronger. These reactions physically immerse us in the magic of love. Funny enough, eating chocolate can also promote oxytocin release.
2. They show anyone can be king of the world.
If that awkward girl can catch the eye of that sweet cool guy, if that nerdy dude is so nice that he is noticed by that extraordinary woman... then sure there is an opportunity for any of us to live an amazing love story.
As Phillip Hodson, with the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy, told TIME: “We need to live by stories that help us deal with tough realities. Idealism has a role to play—it can convince us that no matter how misshapen, decrepit, or dull we are, there is someone out there for us. And you know what? There is!”
3. They make us cry the good cry.
We cry in response to intense emotions of sadness, joy, and laughter, and it is cathartic. It helps release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that calm us, and allow us to feel a range of deep emotions. Especially when we know we’ll be comforted soon with a reassuring ending, or laughing with a witty line that’s been specially imagined to ease the moment.
New York-based psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert said, “Sad movies also allow us to confront feelings -feelings for example around loss, broken hearts, and failure.” — “These movies can also be inspiring -watching how others deal with sadness might teach us how to handle it as well, and how to persevere in the face of difficulty.”
4. They feed our brains with endings.
Who doesn’t love a happy ending? The moment where all troubles are left behind, 2 people find each other, or they finally give in to each other. Our brains do. Our mood improves thanks to a rush in endorphins, and our stress hormones relax. Watching a romantic comedy before bed can even help you avoid insomnia.
Whether the preference for happy endings is an evolutionary one, or whether it happens to help steer people in positive ways, that there are few things more satisfying than anticipating in, and relying on, the “happy ever after.”
5. They give clues on the shapes of love.
We know life isn’t a fairytale, but we all need love, and the truth is, love is kind of an abstract concept. Romantic stories help us learn about its different forms and presentations. Fictional characters in movies provide cues that can be helpful on important questions about love, and what that represents for each of us, personally.
6. They make us feel memories.
Strong emotional memory connections are intrinsic to the experiences of being told stories. Ones that tend to last until adulthood. When we remember these experiences, there is a renewal of the feelings attached and a sense of being cared for. This positive emotional state can be felt whenever narratives are heard.
So, even if you never had a “sweep you off your feet” love experience, just hearing a story about love will probably bring back a good memory or a good feeling of some kind. It can be of a childhood friend, an old crush, or a special moment that changed something in your life. Regardless, it will bring positive feelings and improve your overall well-being.
Do you have a thing for romantic movies? We definitely do. What is your favorite one?
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