Best Life
Best List
August 2007
By Chris Connolly
Photograph by Mary Ellen Mark

ENDLESS SUMMER Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, photographed on Sanibel Island, Florida, November 1973, during the filming of Night Moves

In the early 1990s, sex scientists proved that romantic love is a universal human condition with a landmark study of nearly all contemporary societies. The work led many to believe that this honeymoon phase of romance is buried in our DNA as deep as our thirst for water. Researchers theorize that we can do nothing to stop these emotions from overpowering our lives like a woozy heroin addiction ‑ and, after a year or so, from fizzling out like Katie Couric's hopes for prime‑time glory. A recent study in The Journal of Neurophysiology, however, is proving that couples can recapture the feelings that first made them so crazy in love for each other.

Scientists used MRI scans to examine the brains of people who described themselves as "madly in love" and found that earlystage romance stimulates the dopamine‑rich subcortical areas of the brain that control our reward system. So when you do something good, like flip a house for a 200 percent profit, your brain is overrun with the feel‑good brain chemicals of dopamine and serotonin. Scientists believe that intense early‑stage romance evolved in the same gray‑matter area to drive us to, shall we say, get on with getting it on.

To recapture that early passion, think first about how desire works. The longer you're deprived of something (say, fresh greens or an ice‑cold pilsner), the more you want it. 'When there's a barrier to romantic love, people just crave it more." says Helen Fisher, PhD, who contributed to the study. "Barriers heighten curiosity. They make people seem more novel."

So if you want to give your partner a torturous case of the You's, try setting up some artificial barriers. Promise to perform her favorite sex act... but not until next Tuesday.  When it's appropriate, remind her exactly what you're going to do to her to build up her appetite for you.  She can employ the same trick: She might try '' showing up at your office party and whispering into your ear that she has arrived sans panties, which means you can't do anything about it until the two of you return home.

Promising incredible passion, but building In inevitable delays, is a great way to let your brain jump‑start your heart.