What happens in our mind and body when we fall in love, understand from expert on Valentine’s Day

Science News Desk – Love dominates our popular culture and is the subject of countless songs, movies, and literature and art. But what happens in our bodies when we feel love? Love is difficult to define, but it can be described as an intense feeling of deep affection. At the most basic level, science views love as a mixture of chemicals released by the brain. Under an evolutionary view, romantic love developed from a primitive animal desire to find and maintain a preferred mate. Love keeps people bound and committed to each other from childhood to raising children. It ensures that our species can reproduce, survive and thrive.

However romantic love is not just about procreation. Some argue that we should treat love as a motivation, like hunger, thirst, sleep or sex. There are many benefits to loving others and being loved. These include improved mental health, well-being and immune function, and decreased chronic stress and illness. What happens when someone falls in love for the first time? Falling in love usually begins when one person begins to see the other person as special and unique. The early stage of falling in love is a peak neurobiological state characterized by high reactivity and high passion. Lust and attraction are driven by the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, as is the motivation to have sex. When you fall in love, specific areas of the brain are activated, particularly the limbic system and the reward center.

feelings of tension in the early stages of falling in love
The limbic system plays an important role in emotion and memory. This causes a positive mood and explains why the memories associated with new love are so strong. There is also an increase in dopamine and noradrenaline. Dopamine stimulates reward pathways and increases motivation and obsessive thoughts and behaviors to pursue a love interest. Noradrenaline causes feelings of euphoria, and the physical reactions are a faster heart rate, butterflies in the stomach, and increased energy. At the same time, other areas of the brain become inactive. Reduced activity in the frontal cortex underlies negative emotions and decisions. This explains why people may initially be blind to the shortcomings of the person they love. But cortisol, stress and insecurity also increase in the early stages of falling in love when you are feeling unable to reach a decision.

How does romantic love change over time?
The initial stage of falling in love and intense infatuation lasts for several months. During the next stage, intimacy, commitment, and attachment increase. It is driven by the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin. Oxytocin helps us feel secure after the initial high cortisol and stress of uncertainty and risk of falling in love. There is a balance between oxytocin and vasopressin to connect with others, as well as protect the person you love and yourself. Oxytocin is often referred to as the “hormone of love” because it facilitates the formation of social bonds and relationships. However, new research in animal models suggests that oxytocin is not as essential for lifelong pair-bonding as previously thought. Sexual activity is different from love, but it reinforces attachment. When we touch, kiss or have sex, oxytocin and vasopressin are released, which promote love and commitment between a couple.

Good effect of oxytocin on human health
The years in a romantic relationship are often a period of transition from passionate love to partner love. High intimacy and commitment helps to maintain this love. Some relationships fizzle out due to low passion at this point, while other couples remain in passionate love for decades. What about non-romantic love? Beyond its role in romantic love, oxytocin is important in all forms of love, including those with family, friends, and even pets. Positive social relationships and oxytocin have many benefits on human health, well-being and longevity. In our research, we have shown that oxytocin is associated with a better quality of life and healthier social relationships in people with and without depression. So, for the love of your favorite person, people or pets, no matter who they are, no matter how long you love them, and no matter how many times you fall in love, love to love and be loved. Love can be nature’s best chemical combination. But the complex behavior of those in love and the intricacies of the feeling of love are beyond science.

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