Love is not just something that comes from your heart; it comes from your soul, your mind, your brain, and all of the chemicals that swirl around in your body. It turns out that the science of love is a pretty complicated one, regulated by the shifting balance of certain substances that exist naturally within you. The act of falling in love, and sustaining that love, can result in numerous physical effects that prove that love is a wonderful thing, and explain why we feel the way we do.
Have you ever been so entranced by someone that your palm instantly becomes sweaty? Have you ever become so attracted to your partner that you are simply at a loss for words, and you feel this tightening of your gut? That is completely normal, and it’s one of the many side effects of love! The chemicals oxytocin, phenethylamine, and dopamine all increase: they make us feel awake, they make us nervous and excited, they make our palms sweat and our mind numb, they make us light-headed, and they make us happy.
But it doesn’t end at the initial reaction. Deep, mad love can stretch across years, and it can often make us act a little crazy. When we say that we will do anything for the one we love, when we give thousands of dollars in presents, when we constantly think about our partner and nothing else, well, these are signs often exhibited by people with minor mental illnesses. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it is simply a physical manifestation of the chemicals in our head. Recent psychologists have taken to calling this sensation “limerance,” which defines infatuated, passionate, obsessive love, rather than your typical romance. It is true that love can sometimes be hard on us. The modern pop artist Ke$ha was not wrong when she said, “Your love is my drug.” Love often acts as an addictive sensation that we crave, leading us into this “limerance” phase. At most, it will only last a few months, at most a couple years, and never in its most extreme state.
But what about extended health effects of love? Scientists and psychologists have recorded that those in healthy, loving relationships have experiences lower heart rates and blood pressure. This will lower your likelihood of getting conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and numerous types of heart disease. Naturally, you will also feel less tense and more relaxed.
In the stages of falling in love and maintaining love, you may also experience an increase of the hormone vasopressin, which helps cement attachment. As you can see, from start to finish, love is a wild chemical reaction that sees us at our best and our worst. It is one of those essential human experiences that, when shared with another person, can make you happier than you have ever been before. The science of love, and the physical manifestation of its chemical balances and imbalances, is a fascinating thing to study, and fundamental to understanding who we are.