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Love Chemistry

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What is love? It is a question William Shakespeare had been working on in the 1600’s and recording artist Haddaway has been asking since 1993. Now, scientists are trying to find an answer.

It’s Chemical

Studies have shown that romantic feelings are triggered by an increase in oxytocin, a chemical that promotes intimacy, which leads to an increase of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine produces feelings of euphoria, energy, sleeplessness, and focused attention.

These neurotransmitters in the brain are known as love hormones. According to the American Chemical Society, oxytocin changes the brain signals that are related to social recognition by facial expression. This is due to activity in the amygdala, a part of the brain that plays a role in processing emotional stimuli. This may be the chemical explanation to “love at first sight.”

Norepinephrine is another important love chemical. Similar to adrenaline, it produces racing heart and excitement. Norepinephrine also produces feelings of elation, cravings, and focused attention.

Symptoms of Love

Sweaty palms
Weak/shaky knees
Flushed cheeks
Tongue-tied speech

Making Love Last

Once you have experience “love at first sight” and the emotional high of attraction, what makes two people stay together? The answer is attachment. Scientists believe there are two hormones that create attachment; oxytcin and vasopressin. Physical touch releases oxytocin and deepens our desire for bonding. Vasopressin is a chemical found in the kidneys and helps control thirst. Together, oxytocin and vasopressin interfere with dopamine and norepinephrine pathways. This could explain why passionate love (desire for others) fades as attachment grows stronger, which is an essential part to a monogamous relationship.

There are so many more aspects to love and relationships than just the chemical reactions that go on inside our bodies. But you have to admit, our bodies are pretty amazing.

 

Resources: medicaldaily.com, webmd.com, youramazingbrain.com, chemistry.com