Your Brain on Love
In 2010 pop star Ke$ha’s digitally enhanced voice blasted the radio waves with the lyrics, “Your love, your love, your love is my drug!” This is a common comparison, as people often feel that love is very addictive. However, is there any truth to these claims? Or rather, is there actual science involved when it comes to love?
Yes, there actually is.
According to its basic definition, love is a term used to express feelings of affection towards a person, place, object, or any other subject. From that, you can gather that love is basically an abstract concept. However, while that may be the case, it does produce actual changes in the body. How else can you explain the weak knees, sweaty palms, and the butterflies in your stomach?
Your Brain on Dopamine and Oxytocin
It’s important to understand that the brain runs on chemicals and these are what drive the biological processes in the human body. Psychiatrist, Dr. David Spiegel, states that there are several chemicals associated with romantic love, and their interactions with the brain can alter a person’s thoughts, mood, and behavior. For instance, dopamine is released as a result of pleasure and euphoria, hence it plays a role at the start of a relationship, or the attraction stage.
Another chemical is oxytocin, which is often released during sex, childbirth, and breastfeeding. The common denominator in these activities is that they are precursors to bonding. That’s why oxytocin is known to help people establish feelings of attachment.
NBC News also details the reason why people feel butterflies in their stomachs, pointing out the connection between the brain and the gut. When one is in love, the emotional part of the brain stimulates a nerve that links the brain to the stomach. The butterflies are just a poetic way of saying that the body is stressed in a positive way.
While all of us experience the same bodily reactions when in love, our interpretations of these feelings vary. For example, most people will already have a grasp on what true love really is, however, those who have yet to experience romantic relationships will probably turn towards TV and movies for comfort.
Why We Love The Bachelor
These mediums have long utilized the desire to feel love to their advantage, greatly romanticizing the concept and giving viewers a very sensationalist version of love. For instance, a show like The Bachelor is popular because people are very interested in how an odd social experiment plays out. While the audience is aware these onscreen relationships are at most, superficial, they still consume the content. Ladbrokes also indicates how couples on the reality show Love Island don’t last, pointing out that past contestants have broken up several months after. While audiences root for their favorite couples, they aren’t so naive to think that these relationships born out of reality TV will actually last. Perhaps this proves how people long to have fantasy-like romances in their own lives.
As cheesy as it sounds, love works in mysterious ways. There is simply no straightforward explanation as to why a person acts a certain way when he or she is love, especially because it’s different for everybody. Many times, feelings of attraction may be misread, as was the case with Aziz Ansari’s controversial date. But rest assured, your brain won’t be the same when it falls in love.
Photo Credit: Pexels
Sofia Avery is a Boston-based business consultant and aspiring writer with a lifelong fascination for the science behind everyday occurrences. When she’s not working, Sofia enjoys rock-climbing and going for runs with her husband, Paul.