Would you like to know how a person’s brain works in love? In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about what it feels like to be in love from a neuroscience perspective.
We will talk about what love is and the chemicals it activates in the brain and what you will feel during the different stages of this magnificent cognitive process that is love.
What is love?
Ask anyone and they’ll probably give you a different definition of what love means to them. Some people say love is about the feeling of excitement and passion when you’re with your partner. Someone else will say it’s about the trust, honesty, and comfort that comes with a long-term relationship . Western psychologists define this as an “emotional union” with another person.
If you’re looking for a simple definition of love, according to Google it’s “An intense feeling of deep affection.” You are not here to define what love is, but to find out how it works on a neuroscience level.
According to biological anthropologist Helen Fisher. There are three basic brain systems that have evolved for relationships and reproduction:
- Sexual Attraction: Sexual desire has evolved to seek sexual partners and can be focused on multiple people at the same time.
- Romantic Attraction: This is an attraction centered on a single person to allow you to form an emotional connection with them.
- Attachment: This sense of deep union evolved to allow you to stay with someone long enough to raise a single child together into infancy.
These three brain systems work together to create different forms of love. For example, there is a difference between love and passion in love and according to Ficher , romantic attraction will last between 6 months and 2 years and then turn into attachment.
Before you get into neuroscience with the biochemistry of a love brain, you need to understand that love is unique to everyone and there is no singular love emotion. We experience it and feel it in different ways.
For example, some people describe love as intense and passionate, while others describe it as peaceful and comfortable. Love can be felt as several different emotions at the same time.
How does the biochemistry of the brain of a person in love work?
Love begins usually begins with an intense feeling of joy. In the beginning, when we fall in love, most people are very happy and passionate. Why?
According to neuroscientist Loretta G. Breuning , love stimulates all of the chemicals in the brain that are responsible for well-being. That’s why it’s so good, but our brain biochemistry is primarily to drive reproduction, not to make you feel good all the time. That’s why the good feeling doesn’t last. This is why the onset of a romantic relationship feels like a drug high and eventually wears off.
So, let’s take a look at each chemical in your brain that causes love.
Dopamine is a brain chemical that it released to alert us that our needs are about to be met. When you finally kiss the woman or man you have been chasing, dopamine is activated. When you think you’ve finally found your soulmate, dopamine is activated en masse and is associated with feelings of euphoria, happiness, motivation, and focus.
Dopamine is released very early when you start falling in love very early. It is a stimulant that can give you a pounding heart and sweaty palms. Besides making you feel good in the early stages of lovemaking, it can also make you anxious and obsessive.
Oxytocin, also known as the “hug hormone,” is a brain chemical that is stimulated by touch and trust. This chemical can explode when holding hands, hugging and being comforted. For many people, love is about trust and comfort. Oxytocin is therefore an important factor in the production of these feelings of well-being.
The best feeling to describe this brain chemical is a feeling of warmth and fuzziness. Feeling warm, confused, and comforted is also a common way to describe love.
In a relationship, serotonin is supposed to be released by the pride of associating with someone of a certain stature. This may sound a little “wrong,” but throughout the animal kingdom, higher-status social groups are more successful when it comes to reproduction.
So your brain rewards you with the serotonin that makes you feel good when you seek status. It could be money, success, kindness, authenticity, social skills, fitness, or a host of reasons.
When you receive affection from an individual considered “desirable”, serotonin is triggered in the brain. And when your partner receives admiration from others, it will also trigger serotonin. The release of serotonin can also trigger dependency on another person.
Having high serotonin levels is associated with feeling positive, happy, confident, and flexible. Conversely, a low level of serotonin can make you feel negative, worried or irritable. So a happy and stable relationship will contribute to your serotonin level throughout your relationship.
Endorphins are released during physical contact and sexual intercourse. They give a high and they are also stimulated by physical pain. This is one of the reasons why certain physical pains seem to fade at the time of the sexual act.
They play a key role in long-term relationships. Endorphins become more important between 18 months and 4 years of a relationship since the brain stops depending on love stimulants like dopamine and turns to chemicals like oxytocin and endorphins because they are associated to feelings of attachment and comfort. This is why you may feel soothed and comforted by the presence of your partner.
What are the symptoms of a person in love?
Your heart beats every time he/she enters the room. You’re upset and can’t think straight. You’re having a hard time getting things done because you’re so distracted by thoughts of your new relationship.
Here are some symptoms of a person in love:
- You only have eyes for him/her. You don’t just see the beauty on the outside, you also see its beauty on the inside.
- You feel like you are floating on a cloud. If you’re in love, you’ll go through life feeling like your feet never touch the ground.
- You can’t concentrate. Love can make you forget your game and it can be hard to focus on what you need to do. You will count the minutes until you are together again.
- You always think of the other. Love not only blinds you to the rest of the world, it also fills your brain with many amazing thoughts and keeps you from doing what needs to be done.
- You want the best for your lover. If you love someone, you want amazing things for him/her.
- You are ready to try new things. Love makes you do all kinds of crazy things, but also makes you more open to things that you held off before.
- You feel exhausted. When your brain is filled with a love distraction, you can feel really frustrated with your lack of focus.
- You feel connected to each other. When you’re in love, you enjoy each other’s company and don’t need anything more than just to be together.
Love is a complex emotion that triggers different chemicals in the brain at different stages of the relationship. They are essential in helping two people stay in touch, as they are associated with feelings of attachment and comfort.