What Happens to Your Brain When You Fall in Love?

It is officially Valentine’s Day! For some, it is a day to get chocolates in a heart-shaped box or be surprised with a dozen or more roses. But for me it is the ultimate day to do one thing: give and receive love. Since it is the day of love, I got to wondering…

What exactly happens when you fall in love?

Obviously, your heart pitter-patters, your palms start to sweat more, you think about that person endlessly and you may do a crazy thing or two. But what happens to your brain when you finally meet the object of our attraction?

The human brain is easily the most fascinating organ in your body. It’s the center of your nervous system and controls what you say, how you move, what you think, everything! And there’s still a ton of things we don’t know about.

One thing we do know is how it communicates to the rest of your body. One type of cell in your brain, called a neuron, is responsible for sending signals to other cells of your body by way of neurotransmitters. These chemicals are transmitted from neuron to neuron across synapses in a process that looks like this:

Fall in love
Photo courtesy of Boundless

The brain uses neurotransmitters to do unconscious movement like blinking your eyes to arduous movements like lifting that grande mocha frappuccino you got from Starbucks.

Seriously, though.

These neurotransmitters play a big role in how you fall in love. As you fall deeper in love, the levels of these neurotransmitters continually change. As a result, you experience all kinds of wonderful and strange changes to your body.

3 Neurotransmitters That Make You Fall in Love:

Dopamine

Dopamine is essential for movement and regulates our pleasure center. In particular, it affects the region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens.  Dopamine activates the reward center, which drives you to seek more pleasure and keep the good feelings going. Cocaine and alcohol both release dopamine which is why addicts have to take one more hit or why you can’t say no to one more drink.  When you’re in love, the more you think about your new lover, the happier you feel and thus the more you think about them. You get a shot of dopamine with every thought thus the reason why you think about them constantly.

Oxytocin

You know that amazing feeling you get after you’ve just shared a really good hug with someone? Well, oxytocin is responsible for that! Oxytocin is released during human contact such as child rearing, sex and touching. And it is key to helping you bond with your new love interest. It is also partly responsible for the envy and jealousy you might feel when your lover meets an attractive, new friend. Thus oxytocin is thought to increase all emotions, not just the good ones.  So keep cuddling up to your new bae. It’ll help both of you develop a strong bond.

Serotonin

Unlike the other neurotransmitters, serotonin actually decreases when you fall in love. As an underlying cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), low levels of serotonin compels you to fixate on your love interest. Lack of serotonin could cause you to ignore the little nuances that would normally annoy you, such as when they chew with their mouth open. In this case, love is really blind. Just make sure you don’t ignore major red flags and your love may continue on swimmingly. 

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Ever fallen madly in love with someone? Or done something crazy because of that love? Let me know below!

XO Zuri

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