WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE. Your body stopped feeling like your own. Butterflies fluttered in your stomach; you were almost nauseous. Your heart threatened to beat right out of your chest. You felt flustered, and your palms started to sweat the moment you saw that person. You could not think straight for days. And, oh, you could hardly sleep. You felt giddy; you felt terrific. You had just met someone you really liked.
For a long time, human beings thought that emotions: like, lust, love, attraction, attachment arose from the heart. However, science has proven that the brain is responsible for all these emotions.
The most important organ for love is the brain, not the heart.
When you meet someone you like, your brain triggers the release of various chemicals into your body. These chemicals alter your mental state, and you find yourself perceiving and behaving differently from your usual self. There are many physical reactions in our bodies when we meet someone we like, but all begin in the brain.
First, it is the adrenaline
Adrenaline is one of the most interesting hormones in our bodies because it transforms our bodies into something seemingly superhuman. We have all heard stories of unusual actions across the globe, thanks to adrenaline.
A story is told of a small, petite woman who weighed a little over 111lbs who had a heated argument with her husband. In a moment of rage, the woman lifted the husband who weighed almost 260lbs high up in the air. The woman was so shocked to see him high up in her hands that she let him go. The husband fell with a thud and died instantly.
Adrenaline is secreted in our bodies by adrenal glands when we are excited. The hormone causes a myriad of changes in our bodies, suppressing some of our body’s functions while heightening others. Research shows that there is a significant positive correlation between adrenaline and attraction: As the level of adrenaline in the body increases so does the level of appeal.
Meeting someone new can be quite scary because of the uncertainties involved. Adrenaline is a survival hormone; it enables us to pursue the attraction despite the dangers involved. Some of the physical effects of adrenaline include:
- Dilation of the eyes
- Increased sweating
- Faster heartbeat
- Heightened feelings of anxiety and nervousness
- Butterflies in the stomach.
Then there are Testosterone and Oestrogen
The body releases testosterone in both men and women and oestrogen in women. In women, oestrogen creates a longing for physical closeness and desire for sex with the person you like. Testosterone creates sexual desire, openness and seductiveness.
The human body’s immediate reaction to a potential mate is the urge to procreate
Science shows that oestrogen makes women more attractive to men. On the other hand, testosterone makes men appear more attractive to women by enabling them to achieve more masculinity.
When oestrogen strikes:
- Women will dress more provocatively
- They will flirt more
- The women will have shifts in scent, skin tone and voice pitch, all which make a woman more attractive to the man.
When testosterone is released:
- The men have a higher sexual drive
- They appear more masculine
- They become exceedingly attractive to women
Let us move on to Dopamine, Serotonin and Oxytocin
This cocktail of hormones is referred to as the ‘feel good hormones’ and they are released shortly after meeting someone we like. Dopamine triggers an intense rush of pleasure.
Scientists reveal that dopamine provides the same effect on the brain as taking cocaine
Once dopamine is released into the body, it leads to:
- Increased energy
- Less need for sleep or food
- More focused attention on the person whom we like
- Exquisite delight in all the smallest details of the new person
- Need for attention
- Feelings of excitement and happiness
Serotonin is an essential chemical for a new relationship. Serotonin diverts the mind and binds it to think about one’s lover and nothing else.
People are engrossed in thought about the person they like 65% of the day.
Serotonin plays a significant role in balancing mood, appetite, sexual desire and sexual function. If the levels of serotonin drop; you will find yourself having an unhealthy obsession: thinking about your new partner throughout and consistently reflecting on romantic times spent with them.
Oxytocin is one of the most powerful hormones that is released equally in men and women who share romantic feelings. Oxytocin defines the depth of the love and forms attachment to the partner.
Oxytocin is also known as the ‘cuddle hormone’!
Oxytocin improves communication between partners. In a study, administration of oxytocin led to a significant boost in the ability of couples to interpret cues from each other’s eyes. Oxytocin is therefore associated with pair formation, pair maintenance and partner attachment. You need plenty of Oxytocin to strengthen your relationship!
Vasopressin is released by the brain at the end of the attraction phase. The hormone is responsible for transforming a mere attraction into a mature, committed and authentic relationship. We go through leaps to find love: we change careers, move across continents and aggressively pursue the person we are attracted to, but vasopressin is responsible for maintaining the love.
Vasopressin is also known as the monogamy chemical.
Vasopressin induces the desire to stay with that specific individual and facilitates strong emotional attachment. Vasopressin encourages behaviors that produce long-term, monogamous relationships. Vasopressin brings a feeling of calmness, security, comfort, emotional union and the desire to protect one another.
When vasopressin levels reduce in the body, the bond that a couple shares is weakened and the partners no longer willingly prevent themselves from being attracted to other people.
Understanding the right hormones
Learning about the role of the brain in our romantic relationships helps us to understand what is actually transpiring at every phase of our relationship. Also, we get to develop more realistic expectations for our relationships. Indeed, by understanding the role of particular hormones, you are able to keep the right hormones flowing for a healthy, long-term relationship.
With the information you now have, you can either blame your brain for the failure of your relationship or you can use this knowledge in your favour and build a healthy, flourishing relationship.