The Science Behind Love

What is love? I’m talking romantic love. Lots of you us are afraid of the scientific definition of love because we’re scared it’s going to take away the magic, mystery  and beauty of it, but anything psychological is processed through our brains neurochemically and neuroelectrically… including love. And you know, just because you know all the ingredients to make delicious food, it doesn’t mean it won’t taste as good when you eat it.

Option 1: you can always ask that annoying couple. We all know one, don’t lie. You know what i’m talking about… and if you don’t know one, sorry to break it to you, but you and your annoying glue stick are probably it. The type that writes a weekly 10 pages novel on how much i love you my little cuddly-wuddly peach on each other’s public timeline. OMG and the WORSE: The joint Facebook account.  –What. The. Fuck. IS. THAT. shit. SERIOUSLY.

-Hiiiii my little baby munchkin pumpkin, I love you so much little pea
-I love YOU more little angel muffin baby-bugga-boo-boo
-buuuuut I love you MORE my tiny little firefly glazed with Himalayan marmelade
-Noooooo, i looove youuuu even MOREEE cuddle bunny buttercup cake of my heart

…Eat shit.

Sheldon-Cooper
Sheldon knows what’s up

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You’re in luck! Your option 2 is to keep reading. I promise i’ll never call you Himalayan Jam; I won’t even ask you out on a date! You can read this in your ugliest PJs and stuff your face with this junk baby and i won’t even judge you : It’s a win-win.

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My hypothesis before research is: It’s a drug. I mean, it’s addictive, it’s got you craving for more, it makes you act stupid, It’s got your homies skipping on traditional Saturday night shenanigans with the squad to play footsies while watching a shitty and predictable movie. like… wtf homie? …But who’s really to blame? Is one just really a victim held captive by the El Chapo of feelings ? Let’s figure this shit out. There are three main stages.

First, LUST.

THE-MASK-DI-02
Jim Carrey understands (The Mask, 1994)

It all starts with the junk (sorry romantics). During this stage, our imaginary couple, Liliana & Leonardo meet. Lili has an Oestrogen (female hormone) rush and Leo has a Testosterone (male hormone) one. They are aroused. All their senses are all on full blast HD mode. Bom Chicka Oua Ouuaaa.

Second, ATTRACTION.

Attraction is where the fireworks happen. It’s where the blindfolds come on, Lili’s dorky ways charm Leo, and anything he does will make her giggle like a schoolgirl that heard the word pee pee. It’s a chemistry party and these guys are invited:

begins

Adrenaline
The initial stage of love has begun and your stress response is activated. Your levels of Adrenalin and cortisol (that’s a steroid that increases when you’re stressed the fuck out, like during finals) go up. You sweat, your heart races, your mouth goes dry, you stutter. You look like a champ!

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cat
Dopamine cat

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that plays messenger between the nerve cells and the brain, making sure all e-mails between your body and your brain are sent, received and interpreted properly. When your body releases dopamine you feel happier, the sun shines brighter, you smile, you’re excited. You don’t mind that your roommate ate your last piece of pie in the fridge, again, because your pain and aversion centre is less active, which means things that usually bother you, bother you less (you get away with it this time, roommate!). It also triggers your pleasure and reward system, in the same way that if you would have done some cocaine. That’s pretty fucked up: your body is the lab and you are the junkie. We also know dopeamine (haha!) plays a major role in drug addiction and mood disorders. …No shit.

Basically, you’re high, man. Dope Chapo got your ass.

Norepinephrine is an organic chemical and a neurotransmitter. It makes Lili’s heart race, hands clam, and Leo doesn’t really feel hungry anymore, he doesn’t really want to sleep all that much.

Serotonin is one of love’s most important chemicals. Serotonin is responsible for that calm and serene feel we have sometimes (Rafiki had a shit ton of that, let me tell you). Well, when Lili & Leo are in love, their serotonin levels drops drastically, having a similar level of serotonin as someone with OCD. Ever wonder why your new crush keeps popping in your head at work? I got the guilty guy here.

drugDiagram
The three lab workers

 

Finally, ATTACHMENT.

This is the bond that keeps a couple, like Leo & Lili, together in the long run; what makes them get stay married and raise their 100 children. This is when they settle, they don’t feel any shame for devouring an entire pizza in front of the other no’ mo’. The bond is deeper and more intimate. This time, they actually love the other, and aren’t just wowed by their perfect imperfections. You’re no longer high 24/7. Scientists believe two major hormones are responsible for this stage: oxytocin and vasopressin.

 

lamb
Sssshhhhhh….i’m your mother now. Taken from the Woodstock Sanctuary.

Oxytocin is the hormone released during climax, but it is best known as the cuddle hormone. It is also responsible for many other things, such as the incredibly strong mum/baby bond.

A (sad) study done by assistant psychology professor, Mrs. Diane Witt showed that when the biological Oxytocin release was blocked from mother rats and sheep, these mothers would reject their little babies :'(. Ouch. Contrariwise, when injected with Oxytocin, females that had never had a mate, nor a litter, would protect another female’s little ones as her own.

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prairie vole
Prairie voles

Vasopressin is released after sex. It is the other part of the puzzle in the long-term commitment stage. This was discovered when studying prairie voles, which, just like humans, have intercourse for more than just reproduction and usually have a stable partner. The males were given a drug that deleted vasopressin from their little brains, and the bond with their partner deteriorated immediately. They pretty much didn’t give a fuck anymore and failed to protect their partner from other furry Don Juans. 😥

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BzGY0iPCMAEE_Fn
Bruuhh

If you think about it, you’re pretty fucking gangster. You are the result of an ongoing unbroken line of generations of organisms: from the very first ugly ass microbe that split in two, to your ancestors, and all the way to you, right now, reading this. All this, over the course of billions of years of constant and uninterrupted evolution. WHOA.

 

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Although, not much research has been done in regards to love, it is believed by many scientists that love is part of our evolutionary survival instinct. It is a chemical work from your brain to ensure mating, and therefore the endurance of mankind… Maybe part of it, but Leo & I, we will always believe that

Love is a meeting of two souls, fully accepting the dark and the light within each other, bound by the courage to grow through struggle into bliss.

For my pessimist readers, a 2011 study by Stony Brook University, NY, found that long term couples aren’t actually lying when they say they’re still crazy in love after 25 years, or more of relationship. The research team conducted MRI scans in the brains of long term vs. new couples, and found the same intensity of dopamine activity. Turns out, love is real and does last, even if the stress from the beginning doesn’t (which isn’t a bad thing, i think).

Now, excuse me, while I prepare for my awesome valentine’s date with these two men simultaneously and their chunky deliciousness and definitely not cry about this.

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Oh shit. I just realized. Cupid is a fucking pusher :O 

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-L di Caprio

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I could have written a lot more, but I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. If you are curious to know more about this, check out these fun videos.

The science of love – D News

The brain in love – Ted talk by Helen Fisher  (She was in the 2011 study!)

The science of love – ASAP Science

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