When you are in love, the sun shines a little brighter, the world seems more colorful and everyday experiences feel considerably better. Why does falling in love feel so good?
The answer ultimately comes down to our need as humans to continue the genetic code, and keep our species alive for generations. The “butterflies” that people experience are actually hormones produced by the body accentuating feelings of bliss and happiness.
Are you falling in love? You could be if you’re experiencing the following:
- You can’t stop thinking about a particular individual
- You experience a “high” or euphoric feeling when you think of this person
- You experience more empathy towards this person
- You suffer from loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping
Falling in love is a phenomenon that most will experience in their lifetime. If you’re looking for a scientific explanation to falling in love, experts say it happens as a neurological process in the body.
The hormone Oxytocin plays a key role in falling in love. It is released from the pituitary gland, a pea-sized structure that sits in the brain, behind the roof of the nose.
Oxytocin is often called the “cuddle” or “love” hormone. And it’s extremely fitting because as the body releases it during skin to skin contact.
Just as drinking alcohol causes an increase in confidence, so does oxytocin. A study published in the Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews journal found that alcohol and oxytocin elicit the same effects in the brain including decreased anxiety and lowered inhibitions.
The phrase “drunk in love” has never been more fitting. Don’t you think?
Researchers believe oxytocin encourages procreation, ultimately leading to reproduction.
Adrenaline and Dopamine
People often claim to feel “addicted” to the person they are falling in love with. This is a viable claim because the brain releases the hormones adrenaline and dopamine. These hormones lead to feelings of pleasure and euphoria.
Dopamine is the same hormone released when laughing, exercising, and eating something delicious. The most addictive substances also release dopamine, such as cocaine, alcohol, and sugar.
Overall this may explain why people feel addicted to the person they are falling in love with, which is often accompanied by withdrawal symptoms when they leave.
An interesting study conducted by Stanford Medicine found that experiencing love can often reduce chronic pain. Sean Mackey, MD, Ph.D., chief of the Division of Pain Management, associate professor of anesthesia and senior author of the study states that “When people are in this passionate, all-consuming phase of love, there are significant alterations in their mood that are impacting their experience of pain.”
No, doctors won’t be handing out love prescriptions any time soon. However, this study may provide insight into painkillers’ alternatives that can extract similar reactions in the brain as falling in love.
Loss of Appetite
One reason you may experience a loss of appetite when falling in love is the release of cortisol, which can lead to an upset stomach.
This hormone causes the “fight or flight” reaction in the body. But it also plays a role in the initial stages of a relationship. A study published in the Pubmed journal, it was found that after 12-24 months of being in a relationship, the level of cortisol decreased.
Another interesting aspect of falling in love is that the person can’t stop thinking about the person they are in a relationship with. This ultimately comes down to the hormone serotonin or lack thereof.
When someone is in love, serotonin levels significantly drops off. It’s the hormone responsible for stabilizing and regulating moods.
With a lower serotonin, the brain experiences a stronger rush of dopamine, in essence, making us feel emotions more strongly. Just the thought of the person you’re falling in love with releases dopamine. This explains why you can’t seem to get that person out of your head.
The harder that someone has fallen in love with their partner, the more empathetic this person will feel towards their partner. For instance, one will often feel happy when their partner is happy, or sad if their partner is sad. Ultimately, their happiness becomes a priority. This is why people make gestures that could keep their partner happier, such as buying them flowers or taking them to their favorite restaurant.
Ultimately, falling in love is arguably one of the best feelings in the world. It signals neurological processes in our body that change us for the better.