The Science of Love
By Elizabeth P.
A chemistry beaker has hearts coming out of it.
Why do people to fall love? Some people say love is blind, and others claim that everyone has a predestined soul mate. There are many myths and legends about love. However, there’s much more to it than just Cupid’s magic arrows.
Love is directly connected to chemicals within the brain. Special types of chemicals known as hormones are released and emotions are triggered. As much as people associate love with the heart, it’s really got a lot more to do with the brain. Almost everyone knows that love goes through fazes, you start out liking someone before you have a relationship with them. In psychology, there are three stages of love. Each stage comes with its own set of hormones.
The first stage is known as “Lust”. This is liking someone in the physical sense, such as when you initially meet them. The chemicals involved with the “Lust” stage are estrogen and testosterone. There is a misconception that males only have testosterone and females only have estrogen. Actually, both genders have both hormones, just with variant levels. They are released in the brain when someone finds someone else extremely good-looking.
The second stage of love is “Attraction”. This is commonly referred to as the “Honeymoon Faze”. At this time in a relationship, romantic partners practically obsess over one another. This is when lovers find it hard to focus when their significant other is not around. The chemicals are serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Norepinephrine, also known as adrenalin, is what causes someone’s heart to race when they are with their significant other. If you feel butterflies in your stomach, it’s actually adrenalin. Serotonin is not only relevant to love, but to mood in general. During the “Attraction” stage, people have very high serotonin levels. The high serotonin level is what causes the intense infatuation that occurs during this stage. Once couples get past the “Attraction” stage, the serotonin level drops and they get past the infatuation into a more committed, ardent love. Successful relationships are those that are able to make it past the second stage and into the third. Relationships that can’t get past the “Attraction” stage tend to fall apart quickly.
The third and final stage is known as “Attachment”. In this stage, couples become dedicated to one another. The chemicals involved with this stage are oxytocin and vasopressin. Both of these are highly important in long-term relationships. Oxytocin and vasopressin are both related to strong emotional bonding. The brain generally releases oxytocin prior to releasing vasopressin, but they are equally significant in the bonding process.
All of these chemicals are released when someone falls in love, simply in different stages. It is a good thing that there are different stages or people’s bodies would be releasing a whole bunch of “love chemicals” at once, which could yield poor results. If that were the case, people would go through the stages rapidly and end up falling in love in one day, such as in fairytales. If people are unaware of how love works on a hormonal level, they may think that someone they like is their soul mate, even if they hardly know the person. Understanding the science of love can help someone in love keep their feet on the ground when their head is in the clouds. This year have a fun and scientific Valentine’s Day!