A relationship theory is behind millions of breakups every year – and men are likely to be more aware of the phenomenon than women.
The ‘flip’ is a term to describe a shift in attraction when the initial dopamine-fuelled excitement of a relationship wanes and what happens moving forward.
You either stay in the relationship. commit and ride the inevitable waves, or you miss that initial ‘high’ and abruptly exit to chase it with someone else.
While the captivating new term was coined by Dolly Alderton in her novel Good Material, the concept is not new. It’s jazzy way of summing up how the brain chemistry make up of men and women impacts attraction over time.
‘The “flip” is a common culprit when it comes to the end of relationships, and it’s deeply linked to how men and women experience the stages of falling in love,’ relationship expert Louanne Ward told FEMAIL.
Louanne Ward is an expert in relationships and human behaviour and has been in the industry for 28 years. She says you have to accept ‘the flip’ – either within the relationship or outside it
‘In the initial phases, our brains are buzzing with dopamine and serotonin, creating a laser focus on a partner and an eagerness to be with them. As the relationship progresses the energy dynamics shift, causing changes in emotional priorities.’
The key players in this love game include dopamine, vasopressin, oxytocin, and serotonin.
Men predominantly rely on dopamine, a chemical that gives you feelings of pleasure, and vasopressin, a hormone that creates the desire to ‘bond’ with a partner. The latter has been linked with behaviour that leads to monogamous relationships.
Women lean more on dopamine and oxytocin, which is often dubbed the ‘love hormone’ as it promotes feelings of intimacy, trust and positivity.
‘Around the six-month to four-year mark, the dopamine surge that powers the excitement of pursuit begins to influence the attraction phase,’ Louanne said.
‘When this dopamine party winds down, interest may subtly fade as we long for the invigorating feelings of the initial chase – enter the ‘flip’.
The ‘flip’ is a term to describe a shift in attraction when the initial dopamine-fuelled excitement of a relationship wanes and what happens moving forward
‘Human nature, it seems, inadvertently craves the unobtainable, akin to the constant free chemical high associated with dopamine and oxytocin.’
This quest for sustained exhilaration can be likened to the allure of certain drugs like cocaine and MDMA that trigger these very chemicals, creating a parallel where individuals seek an ever-elusive emotional peak.
‘Whether you’re the one chasing or being chased, blame it on our brain chemicals; they’re the architects orchestrating this shift,’ Louanne said.
‘As the saying goes, “You fall in love by chance, but you stay in love by choice”.’
So, the flip is essentially a result of our brain’s intricate chemical dance as relationships evolve.
Men are more likely to be aware of this phenomenon because of the way they think.
‘Once a man has committed to a woman which normally happens later than a woman, his behaviour changes because his testosterone drops,’ Louanne said.
‘Men are logical thinkers they look for reasons and evidence and analysis as to why something happens so it may seem they are more aware because the flip makes logical sense to them.’
So why does it lead to breakups?
Well, Louanne says, there are a few reasons.
Firstly, the sudden shift in emotional intensity may create a sense of disillusionment as you miss the initial thrill of the chase and mistake lust for love.
Secondly, if the relationship relies solely on the early intense feelings, the contrast post-flip can be disheartening and expose the realness of what a relationship is and the person you’re choosing.
Thirdly, misinterpreting the natural decline in intense emotions as a loss of interest may breed insecurity and communication breakdowns.
If a relationship relies solely on the early intense feelings, the contrast post-flip can be disheartening and expose the realness of what a relationship is and the person you’re choosing
And lastly, if the flip exposes underlying compatibility issues or unmet needs, it prompts the reassessment of the relationship’s viability, potentially leading to a breakup.
‘You have to accept the flip – either the ongoing flips in the relationship or the flip-ing from one relationship to the next,’ Louanne said.
‘It’s emotionally immature to think you can stay in a blissed out state throughout the relationship when the honeymoon period wears off. That’s when decisions get made.
‘While it might seem natural for one partner to appear more invested at different points, sustaining a relationship where one consistently likes the other more is unrealistic. There is no excitement and one or both parties will lose interest.’
A relationship can only survive if there is a commitment to each other and to the relationship itself. Without it, you might find yourself just flipping from one relationship to the next.
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