How Love Affects Our Bodies
You lift my heart up
When the rest of me is down
You, you enchant me, even when you're not around
If there are boundaries, I will try to knock them down
I’m latching on babe
Now I know what I have found
It’s February, which means Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and love is on everybody’s minds. Love. Those four little letters have a whallop of an impact. You may be like the lyrics in the Disclosure song above, giddy and riding the euphoria of a new relationship – or you might be in more of a Bridget Jones situation, drunk off wine and lip-synching to “All By Myself” while watching reruns of Frasier. There’s also the possibility that you’re in neither of the situations above, and are happy just living your life as you well please. You do you, Girl. But no matter what your personal relationship is with those four letters, it can’t be escaped that love has a real impact on our psyches and moods. As in real, chemical reactions that are responsible for the feelings that are described in the lyrics above. Keep reading to find out just what happens when we fall in love – and I promise I won’t use flowery, romantic language to describe it. Scout’s honor.
Chances are you’ve heard of this chemical before (probably while watching a commercial for anti-depressants), but in case you aren’t familiar, dopamine is the brain’s pleasure chemical. It is released during activities like gambling, drug use, and, yes – falling in love. When your girlfriend is prattling on and on about her new boyfriend and it seems she won’t ever be happy discussing another topic ever again – thank dopamine. It’s what causes couples to be enthusiastic and energized about each other.
No, not OxyContin, the narcotic pain medication. I’m talking about oxytocin, the chemical that helps couples bond. This chemical is released during physical activity and promotes intimacy – think kissing, holding hands, cuddling, and having sex. Please don’t get the two mixed up, because if you’re expecting OxyContin while cuddling with your partner, you will be sorely disappointed – and your partner will wonder why you’re asking for drugs.
Norepinephrine is the stress hormone responsible for increasing your heart rate. While its involvement on your system when you fall in love is still being studied, it is thought that it could be the culprit behind that hot and flustered feeling you get when you’re around your love interest, as well as that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling.
So all that flowery language found in multitudes of songs and poems describing how it feels to be in love? It’s just talking about the chemicals that are present when you fall in love – just in a more creative way. And don’t think this will be my last post on the subject – all of February’s blog posts will be about love in some way, shape, or form, those little letters that turn our worlds upside down and drive us crazy. Because whether or not you want to admit it, love – in all its forms – plays a big role in our lives.