The Science of Love

All is red and pink and filled with hearts and kisses. Love is in the air. Valentine’s Day is the official day of love expression annually, though we should strive to show love in our everyday lives.

  What is truly meant by the word love? Is it an act? Is it a feeling? How do we begin actually to love something or someone? Does passion fuel it? Is it spiritual? Is it a sense of longing? How do we determine how we love individuals, and in what way? Why, when someone is inspired to create a love song, do jazz artists, rock and roll artists, hip hop artists, and country singers all diverge into this soft space of emotion-filled ballads?

  Within the laws of romantic love, scientists at Rutgers University break down the laws of attraction into three categories: lust, attraction, and attachment. Hormones within the body govern each category. Lust is the want for sexual satisfaction and is geared evolution-wise toward the need to reproduce. The brain releases testosterone and estrogen, which increases libido. 

  Attraction stems from the part of the brain in charge of reward behavior. This is the “giddy” sensation one may experience when first falling in love or at the beginning of a relationship when the attraction vibes consume every moment. When we feel good or rewarded, dopamine is highly involved. It is aided by norepinephrine, which continues the feeling of euphoria, energy, and being in love. 

  Attachment is the dominating category that governs long-term bonds and loyalty. Attachments are strong in marital relationships but are not exclusive to romances. Harvard Health credits attachments to the “love” in relationships that bond friends, social acquaintances, and parent-child relationships. When you meet your newborn for the first time, the “in love” feeling is governed by attachment. Vasopressin and oxytocin are in control in this situation.  

  So the next time we see someone attractive and our heart begins to beat uncontrollably, we know that a biological event is causing these changes. Various hormones control whether we want to get to know someone emotionally, physically, or mentally, if we want to nurture them, or whether they will be permanently placed in the friend zone. Govern yourself accordingly.

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