Why Spontaneity Is a Key Ingredient in Romantic Relationships

Our brains crave novelty. Neuroscientist and writer Stephanie Cacioppo explores whether or not unpredictable events might invigorate love, and how we can benefit from making more room for improvisation in our relationships.

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When I woke up on the morning of September 28, 2011, I had no idea that this would be my wedding day. John had been invited to a MacArthur Foundation event in Paris, an international mind-meld of twelve academics from different fields who all had something to contribute to the study of aging. The group included some of the world’s top public-health experts and psychologists—among them my fiancé, John Cacioppo, one of the founders of social neuroscience, most famous for his pioneering work revealing the mentally and physically damaging effects of loneliness. John was invited to discuss, among other things, how the elderly could protect themselves against the dangers of loneliness. At the time, he and I were several months into our long-distance love story and getting good at juggling business and pleasure.

John suddenly looked very serious. “No, I’m meeting someone over there, someone important.”

He started to tell Laura about me, how we had fallen for each other after a chance encounter in Shanghai, how he needed to be on that flight. Laura knew about all the wreckage from John’s two divorces. It struck her that John spoke about me as though I was his…


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About the author

Stephanie Cacioppo

Stephanie Cacioppo is one of the world’s leading authorities on the neuroscience of social connections. Her work on the neurobiology of romantic love and loneliness has been published in top academic journals and covered by the New York Times, CNN, and National Geographic, among others.