The heart is the symbol of love - but strictly speaking, the heart in the body has little to do with being in love. Because actually everything happens in the brain. In this article we look at the science of love and you will learn what being in love and love in your body and brain do to you.
Love goes through the stomach and is known to make you blind. Being in love makes the hormones go crazy and we find ourselves high on cloud nine. There is actually something to the proverbs. Because being in love can really trigger something in you. Because when you fall in love with someone, a whole series of changes take place in your brain and body, which arouse all of your passion and euphoria.
In this video, Pablo explains to you how being in love affects you. Subscribe to our YouTube Channelif you don't want to miss any more videos!
What does being in love do to us?
To be in love - have you ever experienced it? Then this feeling will surely sound familiar to you: butterflies that make your stomach tingle, grin like a honey cake horse because you are in a good mood and happy ... okay, sounds pretty exaggerated and when it comes to being in love it can quickly get cheesy. Because when we have fallen in love with someone, we walk through the world with rose-colored glasses.
Before we look at being in love and love from a scientific and biochemical perspective, here are some symptoms that you can tell that you may be in love (keyword: love is blind).
These feelings and actions are signs of being in love:
- Be happy
- decreased concentration
- Tendency to be distracted
- thoughtless and passionate action
- increased willingness to take risks
- Attention drops
- Focus and idealization of the swarm
- Excitement and nervousness at thinking about the crush
- Motivation and increased drive
- Food cravings
As you can see and maybe even feel at the moment, being in love can throw you off track and even interfere with your normal everyday life at times. The fact that your body goes crazy when you are in love is related to your hormones, which ride a roller coaster in your body. Let's take a closer look - now it's going to be less romantic too, I promise!
Falling in love: what happens in the brain and body?
When you're in love, the ventral tegmentum (VTA) near your brainstem becomes active and is part of the brain's reward system. The activity takes place in some of the so-called ApEn cells. These are cells that actually make the natural hormone dopamine and then pour it out into many regions of the brain. The reward system is well below your cognitive thought processes and below your emotions. Part of it is related to your desires, your motivation and concentration as well as desires.
You have probably heard the saying that love is a drug and is addicting. When falling in love is exactly the same region active as in a cocaine intoxication, the nucleus accumbens.1 In fact, many symptoms of addiction show up when falling in love, such as focus, obsession, desire for that person, distortion of reality and the willingness to take risks in winning the person over. Furthermore, romantic love has three main characteristics of an addiction: the tolerance limit (the desire for more), withdrawal and relapse.
But love is more than a brief intoxication - love holds you tight, makes you obsessed, because you just can't stop thinking about this person. In general, being in love is a beautiful state - when love is reciprocated. When feelings are rejected, the obsession can even worsen.
Falling in love with research: activity in the brain
In one experiment, people in love and people who were abandoned were sent to an MRI scanner. The researchers found activity in three brain regions which, by the way, are still active even after years of love, such as after 25 years.
These are the areas in the brain that deal with
- intense romantic love,
- the calculation of profit and loss
- and deep connection to another person
are connected. If you are now unhappily in love and cannot achieve what you want, the reward system in the brain becomes active - i.e. the area for wishes, motivation, longing and concentration. If you now see a picture of the person you love, the area of the brain that calculates profit and loss also becomes active. In this case you would calculate what you have lost and the nucleus accumbens will become active. This is also true if you are willing to take enormous risks. But the third area of deep attachment is also active. When you are rejected, you are not just trapped in feelings of romantic love, but you also feel a deep bond with that person.
But romantic love and attraction can also activate the brain's opioid system - the same system that heroin and opioid pain relievers activate. This part of the brain is involved in “liking” something. In this regard, scientists suspected that the opioid system had evolved to help us make the best partner choices. This is because feelings are triggered that play a role in the reward when we see our potential partner.
Your reward system works at full speed when you are in love and you are full of energy and motivation, focused on your goal and determined that you risk everything to win this person over for you. Romantic love is a simple mating drive, not a sex drive. Romantic love enables you to focus your pairing energy on one partner at a time. This saves you energy and allows you to start the pairing process with this one person.2
Which hormones are released when falling in love?
When you fall in love, the storm of love gives your brain a real hormone boost. These hormones in particular play a role:
Your butterflies in your stomach are the result of this hormone cocktail and provide you with intense feelings. At the beginning of being in love, the messenger substance dopamine plays a major role a big role that literally floods your brain and is responsible for your intoxication and your good mood.
Continue to be Oxytocin and vasopressin, which is produced in the hypothalamus and especially released in later phases of love or relationship. Oxytocin is responsible for trust in other people and reduces anxiety and stress. It also plays a role in who you find particularly attractive. When Attachment hormone, it also promotes long-term bonding as a couple and fidelity. The feeling of attachment is also strengthened, for example, when breastfeeding and pleasant touch, as well as when simply looking into the eyes of a loved one or when Sexwhen you have an orgasm.
The Sex hormones estrogen and testosterone are responsible for pleasure. When women fall in love, you can Increase testosterone levels. In men, the opposite is true - they produce more estrogen. For your inner nervousness and the stomach tingling sensation, the stimulating hormone also has Adrenalin his fingers in the game. Together with dopamine, it increases your blood levels and contributes to a faster heartbeat.
It can also happen that love swoops your serotonin levels. Researchers brought romantic love with low serotonin levels in connection, which incidentally is also a central characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorder.3 This could be related to the fact that when you're in love, you're focused on your crush and generally distracted. In the case of separations in particular, we fix and concentrate on our "problem". How you can counter this and, naturally, yours Increase serotonin levels you can also find out in the Academy.
You have probably already experienced that it is more difficult for you on cloud nine to concentrate properly while studying or working and that your thoughts keep wandering. Neuroscientists have found that passionate love is associated with intense changes in emotion, attention, and decreased cognitive control.4 Love activates - and strengthens - but also the brain area, which stands for your empathy and the processing of emotions. At the same time, brain activity in the region for selfish thinking is reduced.
Oh, being in love ... when you see this one person or think of this person you are in love with, your stomach tingles, you get a little nervous and happy. Your brain also celebrates in Intoxication of feelings a party. In this state it becomes Very active reward system in your brain, whereas other areas become less active, for example the area for rational thinking and assessing other people. On the one hand, this explains the headless behavior of rose-colored glasses and why we would idealize the person we fell in love with and not drop a bad word. At the beginning of being in love, dopamine plays a particularly important role. In later phases, the bonding and cuddling hormone oxytocin is increasingly released.
But love is a complex phenomenon, because not only neurotransmitters and hormones play a role, but also the cognitive psychological aspect. The complexity of love cannot be easily reproduced under artificial laboratory conditions.