Ever wonder why everything is so colourful when you are in love? Love is one of the most ecstatic experiences a person can have in life. The bliss and euphoria of romance and the satisfaction of having an intimate bond with the person you love can turn your life upside down. Love is not just a sensation, but both the good and bad aspects of love can make our bodies go haywire. While love may seem really simple but it can have complex changes in the way you think and behave. Love can prove to be an undeniably powerful and life-altering experience. But why is love so strong and what is the psychological basis behind it? Let’s take a look at the psychological aspects of falling in love.
The psychology behind falling in love
Below are some facts that show us what happens inside our brain and body when we fall in love.
1. Love produces chemical changes in the body
Have you ever experienced that looking at the person you love not only makes you feel better but you actually feel the sensation in your whole body? You may feel your heart act unusually either faster or slower, your palms may sweat, your body may shake, and you also feel a sudden spike of euphoria in your body.
This happens because when we fall in love, there are actual chemical changes going on in our bodies. When we are in love our brain gets overflowing with chemicals such as dopamine and oxytocin. These chemicals enhance the areas of our brain that are related to pleasure and reward systems. These chemical changes introduce physical effects in our body as well as less pain, more joy, an addictive dependence. Similarly, when you cuddle, hug or kiss your partner, you get an instant jolt of relaxation and all your stress vanishes away because your brain is being flooded with oxytocin.
2. Love can take away stress or magnify it depending on your relationship
Love can work in extremes. The increased levels of dopamine and oxytocin can make your body relaxed and almost completely stress-free. However, if things go sour, this addictive attachment to someone can have a completely opposite effect as well. Cortisol is a hormone that can increase stress in our body and when you initially fall in love and don’t know if the other person feels the same about you, you go into an increased state of stress. The initial stages of love is a wild time where you are trying to develop intimacy with another person. The anxiety whether the other person likes you or not can lead to hormonal changes, fear, and mood fluctuations. However, if your love life is going well, it can reduce stress significantly in the long run.
3. We are wired to develop connections
Falling in love is a built-in trait. There are many conscious and subconscious forces at work that make us intensely interested in another person. While it is true that we can chalk it up to our biological and chemical influences but it’s much deeper than that. Falling in love with someone and developing a life-long and lasting relationship gives meaning to our existence. Developing deeper connections helps us make sense of our lives. When we share our lives with someone else who we deeply love, it enriches our experience.
Loving someone can make us feel like we belong somewhere and makes us feel validated. It is an ultimate expression of meaning-making and life without meaning can be difficult and boring. Love is also about being there for each other in sickness and in health. Good relationships can bring out the best in you and the other person. You can’t ignore such a bond as people are naturally attracted towards the person that makes them better. Relationships only based on physical attraction only fade away after a couple of months, but if your partner is someone who is also your friend under the romantic element, then that could make your life much more fulfilling.
4. You feel safer, happier, and sometimes even addicted
Being in love and letting someone enter your life can make you develop trust towards your partner. The oxytocin released through physical contact can strengthen your attachment with someone and produce the sensations of contentment, pleasure, security, and calmness. All the positive elements that you feel because of the other person can make you feel secure and safe.
Being in love is also a natural provider of increased dopamine levels in your body. Dopamine is the chemical that regulates the reward and pleasure centre. When your partner is the reason for that rewarding sensation, your body automatically tends to feel safer around them. Studies have shown that when shown pictures of loved ones, people’s brain areas associated with dopamine displayed increased activity.
Because of such strong influences, love can also make you addicted to the other person. Love is a need that once you get used to, you cannot ignore for long periods. The rushes of oxytocin and dopamine can leave you craving for more. Studies have shown that falling in love hits the brain just like cocaine does. It activates the same portions of the brain and triggers the same euphoria as cocaine, opioids and other highly addictive drugs do.
Love is definitely something more than just a feeling and it can change us both inside and out, mentally and physically. The strength of love can make dramatic changes take place at a genetic level that is something entirely out of our control. Being in love can have a drastic impact on your life such as inducing several biological changes as well such as reducing stress, relieving pain, and making you much happier.