8 Things That Happen To Your Brain When You Fall In Love
Falling in love is one of those things everyone has experienced at least once. And it’s no surprise that love is at the center of so many great songs, books, movies, and more.
Despite everyone experiencing love, most people don’t really understand it. Fortunately, scientists have spent years studying how your brain reacts to falling in love. And you might be amazed by just how much changes!
Wondering what happens to your brain when you fall in love? Keep reading to find out!
Huge dopamine rush
You know how happy falling in love can make you? It may feel magical, but it has a scientific explanation: specifically, your brain is filling with dopamine.
Dopamine chemicals are what make your brain feel so good. And you get so many of them as you fall in love that it can make you experience major feelings of euphoria. Basically, dopamine is responsible for most of your feelings of pleasure, and the sheer amount of dopamine you experience when you experience love can feel overwhelming in the best possible way.
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More oxytocin in your brain
Dopamine plays major part in falling in love, but it doesn’t have a cool nickname like “the love hormone.” That is an honor reserved for oxytocin.
Like dopamine, oxytocin is a neurotransmitter, and both of them release when you are falling in love. This helps you feel so happy early on in a relationship, especially compared to single people. The longer you are together, oxytocin will help improve your communication with your partner and your trust in them, forming the foundation of a lasting relationship.
‘Stomach’ butterflies are all in your brain
Over the years, countless people have described falling in love as having butterflies in their stomachs. However, this feeling starts in your brain and has nothing directly to do with your stomach.
As you fall in love, your body produces extra adrenaline and norepinephrine. The adrenaline can trigger your brain’s “fight or flight” response, which is one reason you may feel so nervous and uncoordinated around the person you love. Meanwhile, norepinephrine can increase both your heartbeat and your blood pressure.
Long story short? When you feel really flustered around the one you love, it’s all your brain’s fault!
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Love is blind: it’s official
When people say “love is blind,” they usually refer to the fact that you never know who someone will fall in love. However, thanks to your brain, love is blind in a more specific way: it makes it easier for you to overlook your partner’s faults.
Thanks to dopamine and oxytocin, falling in love produces enough feelings of pleasure that your judgment is clouded. The final result is that you may not see all the little things that make the object of your love less-than-perfect.
Unfortunately, this is why so many people unknowingly fall in love with jerks. Their brains are making them focus on the other person’s good quality until it’s too late!
Love can reduce pain
In the movie Roadhouse, we see Patrick Swayze’s character flirting with a doctor by offering this bit of eternal wisdom: “Pain don’t hurt.” Unsurprisingly, science has not verified this particular claim. However, if his character was falling in love at the time, any pain he was experiencing might have been lessened.
Why’s that? Well, a recent study discovered that falling in love with your partner causes your brains to synchronize. Once this happens, physically touching your partner can both boost your empathy and reduce the other person’s pain. This means something as simple as holding hands can seriously reduce how much pain someone is feeling.
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You really can be addicted to love
When Robert Palmer sang about being “addicted to love,” he was most likely being metaphorical. All these years later, though, it turns out there is scientific truth to those words.
Once again, it all comes back to dopamine. Because dopamine rushes into your brain’s pleasure centers, it gives you a feeling not unlike being high. And just like drug addicts keep chasing those pleasurable feelings, someone in love will try to spend more and more time with their partner because they are chasing that pleasant feeling.
Fortunately, there is no chemical dependence associated with love like there is with, say, drugs. But breaking up with someone you loved can create withdrawal in the form of major anxiety, which is why so many people take their breakups very hard.
Anxiety and love are connected
Speaking of anxiety, that’s a major part of falling in love with a new person. And if you’re wondering why that happens, all the blame falls on your cortisol levels.
Normally, cortisol helps your brain deal with what it perceives as something dangerous or surprising. Cortisol helps you manage your fears, maintain your mood, and even stay motivated in crisis situations.
However, when you fall in love, the overwhelming feelings make your brain feel like you are now in a major crisis situation. As a result, your brain creates more cortisol levels, and this drops your serotonin levels, making you feel very anxious or even scared. The good news is that these anxious feelings eventually go away. The bad news is it may take up to two years into the relationship before that happens!
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Falling in love makes you more impulsive (and more forgetful)
Does falling in love sometimes make you feel like a different person? Chemically speaking, that may be fairly accurate!
When you are in the rush of love, your brain’s prefrontal cortex is less active. And your amygdala is also less active. Since the cortex controls your decision-making and the amygdala controls your fear, the end result is that you are much more impulsive. You may even be likelier to engage in dangerous and even reckless behavior.
Feelings of love also reduce your overall cognitive control. In other words, you may have trouble concentrating on anything or completing tasks because you are so head-over-heels in love. The good news is that this overwhelming feeling won’t last forever, and you’ll eventually settle into a smooth groove with your partner.