True love and passion is hardly ever dented by ravages of age, says a new study based on brain scans.
Brain scans of couples who have been together for 20 years prove that they are really capable of loving each other with the same intensity and passion as they felt in their initial relationship, until their last breath.
These scans showed that a tenth of them showed a burst of pleasure-boosting dopamine while looking at the photos of their loved ones, the same chemical reaction that young couples exhibit in the first flush of lust.
It contradicts a previous study suggesting that passionate love peters out in 15 months, after going through a roller coaster ride, called 'limerence' in psychological parlance.
Stony Brook University (SBU) researchers who conducted the latest study said that when limerence matures, it permits couples to enjoy "intensive companionship and sexual liveliness".
Simply stated, they are able to sustain the same level of romance and passion decades later.
Researchers concentrated on factors like passion, romantic love and lust. They nicknamed such couples "swans" because swans, voles and grey foxes stay paired for a lifetime.
"The findings go against the traditional view of romance - that it drops off sharply in the first decade - but we are sure it's real," said Arthur Aron, SBU psychologist.
Billy and Michelle Jordon, one such pair of 'swans', who live in California, still amaze friends and acquaintances by holding hands all the time. "It comes very naturally," said Michelle, 59.