What happens when you fall in love?

firstlove-flowers

Love- it’s a tricky topic. Everyone has felt what it is like to fall in love, or they have heard very much about it. When you fall in love, your brain tends to go a little crazy. But what is exactly happening to you? What is the science behind falling in love?

The first stage of love would be the feeling of lust, which is driven almost purely by sex hormones: testosterone and estrogen. Oddly enough, smell is involved in lust as well. People that smell different MHC (major histocompatibility complex) genes than their are more attracted to their partner, most likely as a way to broaden immunity to diseases and increase the odds of survival. During this stage, your body basically is making sure that the other person will, and can, give you pliable offspring.

Once you get past basic attraction, in the early stages of loving someone, the nerve transmitters phenylethylamine and adrenaline go into overdrive you are spend time with someone you are attracted to. This makes you extremely emotional. Serotonin also lowers, making you feel almost stressed about the time you spent with the other person. This was described as the second “stage” of love by Helen Fisher.

By the time you are really starting to fall for the other person, a whole 12 areas of your brain work together to release more hormones, including the all-too-familiar phenylethylamine and adrenaline. According to a study by Stephanie Ortigue, all of this happens in only a fifth of a second. At this time, dopamine, the happiness neurotransmitter, is released, along with oxytocin (the hormone that makes you want to cuddle and hug others). All of these feelings are so strong that they mimic the feeling of using cocaine!

A feedback loops begin to develop with your brain reward center, and can be influenced by the blood stream and nervous system. Chemical neurotransmitters are sent to different places on the body when touched, resulting in pleasure. Eventually, just anticipation will lead to the result of pleasure.

One of the last stages of love involves the release of vasopressin, which is a key hormone as it promotes long term relationships. When circulating, it creates the feeling of strong attachment, comfort, and mental connection. If you’re lucky enough to get to this stage, you’re set! You’re in love!

 

5 thoughts on “What happens when you fall in love?

  1. Chane Jeter-Smith

    Who would have known that there really is science in everything?! Unbelievably interesting post that gets straight to telling you about it. I learned all I need to know right away. It explains it enough to people who have been in love, or felt the love just enough to relate. And if they never been in love, it gives them the scientific way of explaining all there is to know! Definitely a relevant post for today.

  2. Stephanie Ann Loesch

    Hello! I was instantly drawn to this post as I have often wondered what exactly the process of ‘falling in love’ entails. I had assumed the beginning stage deals with sex hormones as one must be attracted to another person. I never knew that smell was a vital component of attraction. It makes me wonder how this works as many girls are often caked in perfume. I assume this deals with our natural smell. It is odd that we are figuring whether the person we are attracted to can produce pliable offspring so early on. The part of this blog I felt was most surprising and intriguing included the fact that 12 areas of the brain create powerful hormones when we are with a person that we have established a real interest in. I was also surprised to hear there is a comparison between our strong feelings and the feeling of taking cocaine. The attractions and feelings are identifiable and apparent when you are with someone that is ‘right’ for you. Now, I am happy to have an insight into the stages of “falling in love.”

  3. Shannon Elizabeth Kress

    This is awesome! Whenever you are in love, you feel very different and may feel that there is no way to explain it. I’ve never seen the scientific part to falling in love. Everything you said makes sense and is very interesting! How the chemicals work together is really cool

  4. Bailee Cooper

    This has to be the most interesting blog I’ve seen yet. I love romance and love and blah blah blah, but I never thought about how it physically works! It’s so intriguing how many chemicals work together to create the feelings and sensations you get when falling in love.

  5. Jose Ignacio Arango De Diego

    I really liked your blog because it scientifically explains something we all have experienced and many of us didn’t know. It is amazing the different body emotions we can feel for another human being and the connection that has with or neurological system. It is also said that the very exact feeling of being in love is produced by the the hypothalamus, which is literally correct to say ” I love you with my hypothalamus” instead of I love you with my heart, as the common phrase is shown. It is very interesting and intriguing how our body is triggered by this brain function.
    http://newsroom.gehealthcare.com/i-love-bottom-hypothalamus-love-valentines-day/

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