Honeymoon: A Bittersweet Beginning

After the neurochemical bonanza of the honeymoon period fades, are we doomed to inferior love?

plastic bear-shaped bottle of honey holding a moon over its belly, against a wine-colored paper-textured background
Credit: Shutterstock, designed by Johanna Mayer

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Honeymoon: It just seems like a word that would have a lovely story behind it, doesn’t it? 

When a listener named Eric emailed us from Centerville, Ohio asking about the word, that’s what we were hoping to find. Instead, we found a more bittersweet origin stretching all the way back to an early modern poem. Plus: We take a look at what’s going on in our brains during the honeymoon period—and whether it’s all downhill from there. 

If you want us to cover a word on the show, get in touch! Give us a call, leave a message, and we might play it on the show. The number is 929-499-WORD, or 929-499-9673. Or, you can always send an email to podcasts@sciencefriday.com.

Guest:

Christine Proulx is an Associate Professor in Human Development and Family Science at the University of Missouri.

Footnotes & Further Reading:

Read the full John Heywood poem where the word “honeymoon” appears in English for the first time.

Learn more about what’s happening in your brain during the honeymoon phase.

Read the full study on how researchers used an fMRI to find activity in the ventral tegmental area of the brains of people who recently fell in love.

Credits:

Science Diction is produced by Johanna Mayer and Senior Producer Elah Feder. Daniel Peterschmidt is our composer, and they mastered the episode. Nadja Oertelt is our Chief Content Officer. Special thanks this week to Michael Lorber and Helen Fisher. See you soon.


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Meet the Writers

About Johanna Mayer

Johanna Mayer is a podcast producer and hosts Science Diction from Science Friday. When she’s not working, she’s probably baking a fruit pie. Cherry’s her specialty, but she whips up a mean rhubarb streusel as well.

About Elah Feder

Elah Feder is a senior producer for podcasts at Science Friday. She produces the Science Diction podcast, and co-hosted and produced the Undiscovered podcast.

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