The general consensus about falling love is that it is solely a function of the heart and emotions and to this effect, we have numerous poems, songs, books and ballads all overestimating the role of the heart in love. Sorry to rip your illusions to pieces but falling in love has nothing to do with the heart and everything to do with the brain. From the giddy feelings to the butterflies to the blushes you experience when in the presence of the person you love, all is triggered and controlled by the brain. In this article, we would be dissecting all the reactions that come with falling in love and the role of the brain in them. Basically, we would be explaining how the brain controls the process of falling in love.
The Brain and falling in Love.
Love is a wonderful feeling that is likened to floating. Some other notable reactions come with this feeling include being in a state of almost constant happiness and always wanting to spend time with the object of your love. Many of the emotions we feel when we fall in love aren’t really a function of romance. Most of them originate from the brain. Let’s take a look.
When falling in love, the brain synthesizes and releases various chemical substances called hormones and neurotransmitters which serve to make you feel enamored with the object of your love.
Obviously, it sounds so much better and romantic to associate falling in love with butterflies and a racing heart just like the poets, writers and musicians have made it out to be. However, science now has the honor of researching and breaking down the process of falling love, and they have discovered a whole lot of intriguing facts about falling in love and the role our brains play in the act.
The first one is that the changes that come with falling in love aren’t some magical feelings that occur when you meet your predestined mate. It is a biological process, and those changes actually happen in the Nervous system. Those things that happen to you when you fall in love such as sweating profusely, your heart skipping a beat, blushing, and your inability to talk properly, are all caused by the chemical changes that occur in your body.
Another truth is that in the first phase of falling in love, your body produces and exudes pheromones and other signals detected by the olfactory lobe of the brain. These pheromones will be detected by the other person and are meant to make you appealing to them.
After this stage, the next phase is the increased production of the adrenaline and noradrenaline hormones which are chiefly responsible for any attraction and giddiness you feel. The adrenaline hormone increases your blood pressure and makes your pulse race when the object of your love is around while the noradrenaline controls your sexual attraction and the sense of safety and happiness you feel when you are with the person you love.
Another hormone comes into play in this phase, and it is none other than the testosterone. Both men and women experience the effects of the testosterone hormone, but women experience it to a lesser degree than the men. The work of this hormone is to act as a strong aphrodisiac to the person you love, and it is produced whenever you feel the stirrings of sexual desire.
True love comes only after the first feelings of ecstasy and with true love comes the synthesis of even more hormones. The first of these second wave of hormone synthesis is PEA or phenylethylamine.
This provocative hormone is a natural type of amphetamine. Its main function is to keep you so stimulated; you won’t be able to even think about anything except the person you love. You are overwhelmed with the need to take care of them and spend a lot of time with them. This is when you care if they have eaten or not and if they are resting enough and not endangering their health.
In addition to making you pamper the person you love, this hormone also makes you blind to their faults making them seem perfect in your eyes. This is the stage where people say love is blind and love is literally blind at this point.
The hormone phenylethylamine is also responsible for the production of other neurotransmitters such as dopamine, whose main purpose is to make you feel pleasure. Just like the drug dope, people can get addicted to love or rather the feelings that love elicits, and if for some reason or the other, you break up with the person you love, you will experience the symptoms of withdrawal much like a drug addict would.
The brain isn’t done yet; it’ll produce and release the love hormone otherwise known as oxytocin. The oxytocin is mainly responsible for the urges to snuggle, kiss, touch, and just be generally affectionate with the person you love. It is also in charge of childbirth, breastfeeding, and reproduction.
Oxytocin is synthesized in the hypothalamus and then stored in the pituitary gland from where it is then secreted when needed. It stimulates and enhances sexual arousal. When kept in large quantities in the pituitary gland, it stimulates you and makes your partner seem even more attractive to you. It also increases your need to be with the object of your love.
Now the big question is “Does the brain keeps up all this hormone secretion forever?” Does the brain keep falling in love forever even after you have been with your loved one for a while? It doesn’t.
Sorry to crush another one of your illusions about romance and love. You don’t stay in love forever despite what the poets and authors have told us about happily-ever-after and forever type of love. According to science, love does not last forever. So what happens?
The truth is that the brain cannot keep secreting these falling in love hormones forever. You wouldn’t even be able to cope with it. However, those biological and chemical reactions can keep repeating themselves for an average of five years.
After this five years, the body becomes familiar with the drugs and soon becomes unaffected by them just like some other drugs whose dosages you have to increase after a while for them to have the same effect they used to have before.
As you spend more and more time with your partner, the hormone phenylethylamine loses its effect, and you begin to see your partner as a human with flaws and faults. In addition to that, both of you then experience some negative and positive things together.
It is at this point that you understand when veterans in love say that it is a lot of hard work. You have to work doubly hard now to retain those feelings for your partner now that your brain has stopped doing its part to help you.
Sadly, boredom sets in when the last two hormones aren’t released anymore although the hormone vasopressin gets to be released.
Now, that the raging passion that existed in the beginning when you were falling in love has fizzled out, you can clearly see other lasting attributes which you might have overlooked before such as your partner’s kindness, ability to compromise, consideration and gentleness. So even though the raging passion is no longer there, this stage is also exciting as you discover and go through other aspects of love such as mutual respect, harmony, compromise and trustworthiness with your partner.
Now that your brain has ceased to synthesize and release these love hormones, you have to work hard to keep your love ablaze. Nevertheless, it gives way for you and your partner to truly gain an understanding of yourselves and figure out the best ways to tackle issues in your relationship.