Love: that marvellous chemical reaction in your brain that manages to turn even the most composed human being into a pile of mush. And what exactly can we blame our crazy behaviour on? Science, that’s what. According to clinical psychologist Dr Tania Trapolini (centreforwomenspsychology.com.au), “We know that when it comes to love and the feelings associated with love, we really are unromantically at the mercy of our neurobiology and chemistry.” Yep, love is messing with our brain, our body and, on the odd occasion, our dignity too. Here’s why.
THE BASIC SCIENCE BEHIND LOVE
The first thing you need to know is that there sorting out the small things. are three stages of love. Dr Tania says they are:
This is also known as the “oh, hello you” stage of the relationship. It’s driven by the sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen.
This is the phase of love with the worst reputation for craziness. It involves three main neurotransmitters (chemicals in your brain that communicate info throughout your brain and body): adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin. Adrenaline gives you that intense rush, dopamine controls your pleasure centre, and = serotonin influences your mood, sex drive and even your sleep pattern.
The attachment phase uses two bonding hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin. So at this point you’ll find yourself lusting less, and instead doing more couple activities such as creating joint Facebook profiles.
WHAT IT DOES TO YOUR BODY
What love does to your body seems almost like the flu. Butterflies, knots in your stomach, racing heart, poor sleep, loss of appetite, and breaking out into a sweat, just to name a few. Dr Tania says, “The early and intense stage of love activates a system that is very similar to our stress or ‘fight/ flight’ response. During this response our body has increased levels of adrenaline and cortisol.” Cortisol is also known as “the stress hormone”, and an increase in this means that when you set your eyes on the person you love, it can trigger the same physical reaction you get when you’re waiting to take an exam or about to speak in front of your class.
WHAT IT DOES TO YOUR BRAIN
Ever wondered why when you’re in love you become completely obsessed with your boyfriend or girlfriend (to the exclusion of, like, EVERYTHING else)? It’s because of all those pesky neurotransmitters. Dr Tania explains, “The potency of some of the neurotransmitters and the impact they can have means it can often be difficult for people to think of anything else but their new love.” It also means that your brain can feel like it has been covered in a dense fog and concentrating on anything is almost impossible. It’s actually kinda scary how unproductive you become. But fear not, Dr Tania says this mostly happens in the attraction stage and will pass in time as you settle into your relationship. No matter what, don’t let all these hormones and neurotransmitters deter you from the awesomeness that is love. Because without a little madness we wouldn’t ever get to the good bit, where we get comfy, connect and commit. So keep calm and crazy on, just the way science intended.