The attraction between two people may seem straightforward. However, everything we do is connected to both our brain and body. The chemistry of our brains might just be the answer to why, how, and when we fall in love.
We’re taught the basics of chemistry in school, but probably not how the chemistry of the body can impact emotions and feelings. These chemicals are found naturally in your body – hormones and neurotransmitters designed to adjust your feelings to the situation around you.
We are who we are because of these processes. And it’s these same chemical processes in the brain that impact our love lives!
Not many people acknowledge that the chemical processes in our brains are what cause us to act a certain way. They don’t just influence our decisions, but are rather what causes us to make those decisions.
In terms of love and relationships, chemical processes play an important part. The sensation we know as love is actually a collection of hormones and neurotransmitters that can actually intoxicate the brain. Love drunk indeed! [Read: 47 sweet signs you’re falling in love and going past the like stage]
Some experts say that being in love is one of the most dangerous feelings a person can experience. It is the equivalent of being hopped up on cocaine.
Once it stops, you experience withdrawal that can be similar to that of a substance abuser. This might explain some of the feelings of devastation that take place after a breakup.
None of this is to say that chemicals are the sole cause of love. There are lots of other factors in play, such as physical attraction and personality.
Don’t write off romance just yet, because there’s more to it than being addicted to the feeling of being in love. There are so many chemical processes involved in interacting with people, making it such a complex matter. This is why we sometimes think of love as having a “magic” to it.
Unfortunately, the answer to this is not simple. On the surface level, humans are animals that are as drawn to sex and procreation as any other animal is. But the feeling of love and long-term bonding is something that is unique, and doesn’t have a straight answer.
We might not know why we fall in love, but we do know the different stages that the chemistry of love takes place in. Read on to learn more!
This is driven by the hormones testosterone and estrogen, for men and women, respectively. No matter what your sexual orientation is, these are the two most basic substances that get you riled up about someone you like.
When you start to like someone, there will be a surge in the amount of the hormone your body produces. This is most likely triggered by visual stimuli *i.e. their physical appearance* but it can also be triggered by the pheromones that they emit. [Read: 28 hush-hush signs someone has a big crush on you]
Pheromones are emitted through the sweat glands. Contrary to popular belief, they are not the natural odor that we emit. Body odor is simply the waste secreted by bacteria and fungi on the body. The moment you feel an attraction for someone, you will start to secrete more of your own pheromones in the hopes that their body will respond to yours.
This is what you initially assume to be love. It can be love at first sight, or love that happens in a longer span of time. We can’t readily confirm that it is, indeed, love, since there’s no scientific basis for that yet.
For now, certain parts of your brain are secreting adrenaline, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin because of your infatuation. Adrenaline gives you a heightened and intense feeling. It’s what you can call a rush of emotions. [Read: Infatuation vs. love and 20 ways you can tell the difference]
Dopamine and its accompanying hormone, norepinephrine, give you a happy, almost euphoric feeling. It’s the main component that gives drug users their high. It is also the happy feeling you get from strong painkillers like morphine, which is, unsurprisingly, a byproduct of cocaine and heroin use.
Serotonin’s job is to balance a person’s mood. If it falls below a certain level, you will undergo mild depression. Extreme deficiency can cause more serious mental problems. When you’re attracted to someone, your serotonin levels increase. This is actually the reason why more dopamine is released.
Without having to confirm the science, you can develop romantic feelings identifiable as romantic love. This phase is when your body has grown accustomed to the increased levels of the hormones mentioned above.
Scientists believe that the hormone oxytocin and another neurotransmitter called vasopressin is involved in the development of romantic feelings between two human beings. It is the hormone that allows you to create a romantic bond with your partner beyond physical connection. [Read: 47 sweet signs of falling in love and what to watch out for!]
In addition to oxytocin, a second neurotransmitter called phenylethylamine (PEA) is released during this time. PEA acts as a stimulant, giving you more energy and a happy, uplifted attitude. This is why being in love feels like walking on air.
The secretion of these chemicals makes you feel like you’re in love. The downside is that you’re now technically “addicted” to your partner. With all that dopamine running through your system, this effect isn’t at all surprising.
When your heart gets broken, the first thing your brain does is find ways to protect itself. That’s where the five stages of grief come into play. These are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In terms of brain chemistry, the pain that you feel starts to trigger a massive dump and surge of different hormones.
Dopamine levels gradually decrease, which causes a person to undergo theoretical withdrawal.
This is what causes the stages of denial and anger. The bargaining stage is caused by the loss of dopamine. That’s because your brain is itching to get its fix. During this time, you might start acting *for lack of a better word* crazy.
Hormones might be a reason, but they are not an excuse. It is at this junction that you either take a healthy path toward moving on, or push through with risky behavior, substance abuse, and acting out. We hope you’re the type of person who leans toward the former! [Read: 20 wild steps to get over a broken heart and heal like you don’t care]
Feeling unappreciated is almost the same as feeling rejected. The same chemical processes are happening in both circumstances. The most active substances that are involved are dopamine and cortisol.
Dopamine doesn’t just affect people who are in love. It can also be secreted when you feel happy about other things. One such thing is being appreciated by the people around you—more specifically, the people you love. [Read: How to get your self-esteem back after a breakup]
When they stop giving you the affection that you’re used to getting, you may experience a feeling that is slightly less intense than a heartbreak.
Your cortisol levels will rise as well, because your body doesn’t know how to process the lack of stimuli from your partner *i.e. their attention*. Your brain can only control so much, and that does not include how other people treat you.
According to some scientists, many people experience the feeling of “mate rejection” when they fall out of love. This is when your brain starts reprogramming your emotions to prepare for a breakup.
This theory was tested by giving subjects serotonin-suppressing antidepressants. This type of drug interaction can cause dopamine production in the brain to decrease. [Read: Falling out of love – 23 reasons, signs, and the fastest ways to recognize it ASAP]
The results showed that testosterone levels decreased, meaning that the attraction for their partner decreased as well.
The basic gist of it all is that when a person falls out of love, the hormones that aid in dopamine secretion and production have either stopped functioning or have drastically decreased. [Read: The subtle changes in your partner that are red flags]
The truth of the matter is that anything that causes the brain to emit “happy hormones” can become addictive. It is true for drugs, but also for exercise and even love, especially if the person in question has an addictive personality.
But this isn’t really something most people have to worry about. If you feel the rush of hormones that come with being in love, you should just enjoy this exciting time for you and your partner!
If the chemistry of love teaches us anything, it is that love is a primordial drive in humans. Beyond our animal-like desire to breed, human body chemistry seeks out bonds between each other. This proves we are social animals that are happiest when we are with those that we love!
Knowing how the brain works can be helpful, as it allows you to comprehend just what is happening when you’re falling in love. Using the outline above, you can identify the stages of your romantic relationship and gain your footing as you shift in and out of attraction, love, and heartache.
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