New approach to the science of romantic love

Theory of co-opting mother-infant bonding
Adam is a proponent of a theory that says romantic love evolved by co-opting mother-infant bonding. Co-option is the process whereby a trait is reproduced to serve a different function than it originally served. “[S]ome of the cognitions, emotions, behaviors, neurobiology, (neuro)endocrinology, and genetics of mother-infant bonding were co-opted to form romantic love… The function changed from mother-infant bonding to pair bonding (i.e., pair bond formation). Other mechanisms and psychology (i.e., courtship attraction and sexual desire) may have also been combined and modified…” (Bode, 2023, p. 4).

– Romantic love and mother-infant bonding share a number of psychological similarities
– Both romantic love and mother-infant bonding are associated with obsessive thinking
– There are a number of neurobiological similarities between romantic love and mother-infant bonding
– There are (neuro)endocrinological similarities between romantic love and mother-infant bonding (i.e., oxytocin activity)

Key insights
– Romantic love results from activity of multiple biological systems involved in human reproduction (i.e., bonding attraction, attachment, obsessive thinking, courtship attraction, and sexual desire)
– Romantic love serves a pair bond formation function
– Clear ideas for future research

Key publications
Bode, A. (2023). Romantic love evolved by co-opting mother-infant bonding. Frontiers in Psychology, 14. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1176067
Bode, A., & Kushnick, G. (2021). Proximate and Ultimate Perspectives on Romantic LoveFrontiers in Psychology, 12(1088). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.573123
– Walum, H., & Young, L. J. (2018). The neural mechanisms and circuitry of the pair bondNature Reviews Neuroscience, 19(11), 643-654. doi:10.1038/s41583-018-0072-6
– Numan, M., & Young, L. J. (2016). Neural mechanisms of mother-infant bonding and pair bonding: Similarities, differences, and broader implicationsHormones and Behavior, 77, 98-112. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2015.05.015