Love is one of the most wonderful experiences we can have. Love is something that can change the way we feel and see the world, making us feel very happy and pleased. However, love is not just a state, but something that has a physiological aspect. In a way, past thinkers who viewed love as an illness were not entirely wrong – love changes things in our body. So, what happens in our bodies when we fall in love?
Love is associated with a release of several neurochemicals – substances that affect the brain and the body. Different chemicals are released at different times in the relationship. In a way, being in love engages the same mechanisms as being addicted to a drug.
Love releases oxytocin, the hormone associated with bonding and relationships. Oxytocin can reduce feelings of anxiety and inhibition, making love-struck individuals feel more relaxed and more willing to take chances. When you are in a relationship with someone, you might feel this effect more strongly like love addiction.
Love can make us more anxious too, especially before a date or a big event, early in the relationship. Your heart rate will rise, you will feel your palms sweat, and butterflies flutter in your stomach. This is associated with a release of chemicals called adrenaline and norepinephirne that pump you up before a meaningful situation, before a challenge. In addition to this, you might experience uneasiness or loss of appetite when seeing someone new due to cortisol – the stress hormone. It can make people feel stressed and worried at first.
The first stages of a relationship are associated with dopamine – the reward chemical. We feel rewarded and even euphoric by being with the person we are in love with. This stage is more associated with crushes or romantic, “puppy” love. It is also the stage where we might see the person through rose-tinted glasses. However, as we settle into a relationship, oxytocin takes central stage. While this means that the relationship might lose some of that early euphoria, it becomes more stable and full of a more mature, tender sense of love. Oxytocin is associated with other long-term bonds, like family relations and friendships, as well as romantic relationships. Oxytocin has been called the love hormone.
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References : http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/