Love is overly romanticized in today’s culture, when in fact, love can be complicated. While poets and songwriters put romantic thoughts and feelings into eloquent words, love remains a mystery for many.
Read along to find out some surprising psychological facts about love.
• Love is addictive.
Love can be very addicting due to the hormones released by the brain. Dopamine, a chemical that is released during the initial attraction stage of the relationship.
It gives you that rush of pleasure and happiness that makes it so addicting. It also enhances the release of testosterone, which is essential for attraction.
Other than that, research found that falling in love produces several euphoria-inducing chemicals that stimulate 12 areas of the brain at the same time.
• The brain falls in love, not the heart.
Many scientists have gone back and forth on whether it’s the brain that falls in love or the heart.
Based on her work, Syracuse University professor Stephanie Ortigue believes it is ultimately the brain, though the heart is related.
“Activation in some parts of the brain can generate stimulations to the heart, butterflies in the stomach, etc.,” Ortigue says. “Some symptoms we sometimes feel as a manifestation of the heart, may sometimes be coming from the brain.”
• Love is blind.
Love needs to be “blind” for survival.
It does not seem to matter what others say to a new lover—he or she is always perfect in our eyes.
This blindness is critical for us to move forward in our relationship and is usually required to move onto the “attachment stage” so that they can stay in love long enough to have and raise children; in other words, to populate the earth.
• Butterflies are a real, stress related, thing.
The expression of having butterflies in your stomach is a real feeling that is caused by an adrenaline rush.
When and if you fall for someone, it will probably be hard to avoid the feeling of butterflies dancing and fluttering around in your stomach. This happens as a body’s response to a fight-or-flight situation.
• Love can make you sick.
If you’ve ever heard someone say they’re lovesick, they may have been onto something.
Though it hasn’t been proven that love makes you physically sick, it does raise levels of cortisol.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that has been shown to suppress immune function, making you more likely to get sick.
• Love does break your heart.
At times, love hurts, and being “heartbroken” is actually a real sensation and not just something that’s only in your head. It’s called “takotsubo cardiomyopathy” or broken heart syndrome.
Broken heart syndrome is a weakening of the heart’s main pumping chamber as a result of severe emotional or physical stress.
Research has provided evidence that intense, traumatizing events, such as a break-up, divorce, loss of a loved one, physical separation from a loved one, or betrayal can cause real physical pains in the area of one’s heart.
• Love changes with time.
Biologically, it is estimated that romantic love, which is linked with euphoria, dependence, sweaty palms, butterflies and alike, only lasts about a year.
After that first year begins the so-called “committed love” stage. The transition is linked with elevated neurotrophin protein levels in newly formed couples. Hence, the “honeymoon phase” passes by.
• Being in love changes you.
If you find yourself watching romantic comedies when you used to only prefer thrillers or if you suddenly love Mexican food when you didn’t before, you might want to credit your partner.
Studies found that people in love often have different interests and personality traits after entering into their respective relationships.
One of the study’s authors suggested that people have a more diverse sense of self and an increased self-esteem after falling in love.
• Love can literally drive you crazy.
Something you may or may not know about love is that it can lead to serious infatuation.
The same levels of serotonin that bring about the infatuation are found in those with obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is an anxiety disorder.
This is probably why you cannot seem to think of anyone else when you have fallen in love.
• Love isn’t exclusive to Romance.
The third category of love, attachment, is associated with feelings of comfort and nurturing as opposed to infatuation and desire.
The hormones oxytocin and vasopressin are the fuel for these factors in long-term relationships.
And while lust and attraction are pretty much exclusive to romantic love, attachment is also felt through friendships, parent-infant bonding and even how owners feel toward their pets.