You have likely heard people say that love isn’t real, that it’s the mind playing tricks and whatnot. Others, however, say that love is the best feeling one could experience. Regardless of your opinions on the highly debated state of being, the truth is that love has a perfectly analytical and chemical explanation. Though it may seem like love couldn’t possibly be both scientific and romantic, it is a very interesting concept to understand it fully, I guess you’ll just have to read on.
As cliche as it may seem, love at first sight is more than just a myth. It takes a fifth of a second for anyone to fall in love. That’s it. In that fifth of a second, the brain releases a variety of neurotransmitters including oxytocin, dopamine, vasopressin and adrenaline. This means that love actually gives us the same hit as a small dose of cocaine does. If you’re a student of science, you’ll know that neurotransmitters are the brain’s quick hit while hormone responses are its long-term lifestyle changes. Love actually increases a variety of hormones including dopamine, cortisol, and oxytocin, while also decreasing serotonin, which contributes to the obsessive part of love.
If it seems like I just wrote a lot of words that don’t make sense to you, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin are the brain’s “feel good” substances. Opposite to that, however, cortisol is responsible for stress and adrenaline is responsible for a fight-or flight response commonly associated with stress and anxiety. The first ones sound relaxing and nice while the latter do not, right? This is why new love can make us feel uneasy, insecure, and cautious, as well as possibly a little awkward around our new partners. But never fear! Cortisol and adrenaline both decrease as time goes on in love. Due to that, the butterflies in your stomach, the pounding in your chest and the nervous sweat will fade in time. This doesn’t mean that you don’t love that special someone anymore, it just means that your hormone levels have stabilized. This means you feel comfortable enough around your partner to make them a normal part of life. A lot of couples report still feeling butterflies and excitement towards each other after some time, but that awkward unease of who will make this first move and how will they react if I shift in my chair a certain way will no longer be a fear in the front of your mind.
So whether you experience love like that of “Still Into You” by Paramore, have a very relaxed relationship with your partner, or just aren’t interested in love at all, I think we can all agree that love is a very fascinating concept due to it’s cascade of chemical responses that really make it a rollercoaster.
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Dean, Jeremy. “Psychology of Love: 10 Studies Every Lover Should Know.” PsyBlog, June 25, 2021. https://www.spring.org.uk/2021/06/psychology-of-love.php.
Karantzas Associate Professor in Social Psychology / Relationship Science, Gery. “What Is Love?” The Conversation. June 08, 2021. Accessed October 12, 2021. https://theconversation.com/what-is-love-139212.