You just met your significant other and you're over the moon. You got butterflies in your stomach, your palms are sweating, and your heart keeps skipping a beat. But what's really happening inside your head?
Love is one of the most powerful desires known by human beings, and it happens almost as fast as reflex. And although explaining the chemical aspect behind love takes away some of its mystery, we're going to break down what happens in your brain when you've fallen head over heels.
First, dopamine is the chemical that controls your brain's reward and pleasure centers; it has also been linked to drug addiction. So if you feel like you're addicted to your lover, it actually makes sense.
Dr. Arthur Aron, a world renowned social psychologist, and Dr. Lucy Brown, a neuroscientist, conducted a study to prove just that point. In the studies, they had participants look at pictures of their partners and measured their levels of dopamine.
Just as expected, the levels shot up as their reward centers lit up. They are the same centers that respond to cocaine or any other drug. So in truth, our partners become our real-life drugs.
Our second noteworthy chemical is serotonin. It is essential for mood regulation; falling in love decreases its levels in our brain.
That is why a lot of those who are in love might have mood changes. Serotonin also impacts your appetite, which is probably why we don’t eat a lot when we've recently fallen in love.
With serotonin and dopamine levels all over the place, it’s no wonder why we’re a wreck when we first fall in love. And with oxytocin jumping in the blend, our addiction to our partner is furthered.
Oxytocin is the chemical known as 'the cuddle hormone.' Normally secreted after orgasms, oxytocin makes us want to have a bond with our partner, an emotional connection. It provides us with the sense of security and comfort.
Although falling in love seems out of this world, it is in fact the most natural thing we can experience, an addiction worth having.