Is there anything better than falling in love? Maybe eating a whole bucket of Nutella, but it’s almost as good as getting butterflies in the pit of your stomach every time you’re about to meet your crush. While you do experience a world of emotions, you might not be aware of the whirlwind of chemical reactions your body is going through. It might not be romantic to think about the chemical changes to your anatomy, but it does add a whole new dimension to the wonderful madness that falling in love is really like.
We all know it, but now there is proof. Researchers have found that in the early stages of falling in love, your brain experiences a diminishing of serotonin levels, a condition similar to what is found in obsessive-compulsive disorders. Sound familiar?
Oh! The thrill of bumping into your love-interest. Your heart races, your nerves are on fire and you forget to breathe and walk at the same time! Sure, he’s attractive, but that’s not what causing you to turn into somewhat of a dork. It’s your increased stress response. Adrenaline and Cortisol are rushing through your system like a mofo.
Falling in love also increases the Dopamine levels in your brain, a feel-good chemical linked to “desire and reward” mechanisms that triggers intense rushes of pleasure and increased energy. In fact, it has the same effect on your brain as taking cocaine! No wonder you can’t sleep!
Notice how, when you are in love, your otherwise common-sense and sound judgment seems to go out the window? That’s due to a decreased activity of your Amygdala and frontal and prefrontal corteces. Ugh, thank you guys for staying so active every time we look at a photo of Brad Pitt!
LOVE IS BLIND
All these chemical processes work together to make you ´blind´, you are more likely to idealize your love-interest and to feel that your relationship is the craziest, closest, most special relationship ever experienced by man. But sometimes, it’s just as dull and run-of-the-mill as anyone’s.
CURBING THE MADNESS
After the early stages of falling in love, the Serotonin, Dopamine, Adrenaline, and Cortisol levels even out and your Amygdala and courtesies start to act like themselves again. You are leaving the ´falling in love´ stage and are ready to move on to the next stage: deep attachment.
Now that your Amygdala is messing up your judment, you’re more likely to act rashly. Ask Beyonce, who’s Crazy In Love line sums it all up, “But I still don’t understand, Just how your love can do what no one else can?”
THE CUDDLE HORMONE
To go from being in love to deep attachment you need some Oxycotin. The natural kind. The kind released during orgasm. This hormone seems to deepen feelings of attachment. Which is why you feel closer to your partner after sex.
You have survived the madness of being in love and you are forming a deep attachment, then Vasopressin might move you forward to the next level: long-term commitment. This hormone is also released after sex and has been found to stimulate long-term bonds, devotion and feelings of protection.
“Love is the drug for me” , Bryan Ferry hit the nail in the head. No one will deny that love is complex, beautiful and a driving force in the world. It might be reassuring that some part of it is out of our conscious control, a complex system of hormones and brain functions. Love, in part, is a drug. So shoot up all you want, it’s natural and healthy!