Your brain in love: The interconnectedness of physical and emotional attraction
If you’ve been in a relationship, you’ve probably heard about the stages of falling in love. People are constantly talking about the “honeymoon phase,” and how to keep your relationship strong when that phase wears off. But do you know the science behind what happens to your brain during these first few years of a new relationship? Let’s dig deeper.
Our brains are wired for love. It all goes back to the start of humanity, when populating the earth and finding security in a lineage was a survival mechanism. Nowadays, even though love, romance, and monogamy aren’t for everyone, many still want to find their other half. Love and sex are interconnected as positive experiences and emotions that we’re inclined to seek out as human beings.
So what does your brain look like in love? There are three major chemicals that are involved in giving you that warm, gushy feeling when you’re in a relationship: dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin. Dopamine is the primary chemical in our brain’s pleasure center; this is responsible for a lot of the sexual and romantic attraction that happens with your partner.
Oxytocin and vasopressin are very helpful in the attachment and bonding process with your partner. This is part of what causes humans to be such monogamous, family-oriented creatures. These are also the chemicals that child-bearing people feel when bonding with their child.
Furthermore, certain areas of your brain tend to decrease activity when you’re in love. For example, your amygdala, which is responsible for fear and anger, is not working very hard when you’re with your partner; this is why we feel so safe and secure when we’re around the people we love.
Along with all of these chemicals, your brain also produces a bit of adrenaline during a new relationship. This is why you get the “butterflies in your stomach” feeling around your partner. All of the love, lust, and adrenaline that comes with falling in love can be addicting. However, when your relationship becomes safe and long-term, about one to two years into the relationship, that addictive feeling can start to fade.
This is what we would refer to as the end of the “honeymoon phase.” The chemicals flooding your brain begin to be dominated by the bonding rather than addictive chemicals. But once you understand the science behind it, you can conquer the honeymoon phase and make your relationship fun as well as lasting.
By communicating your feelings with your partner, always trying new things together, and continuing to “date” and surprise each other, you can keep those “new love” chemicals flowing throughout your relationship. Use Official’s date discovery feature to find new ways to surprise your partner and spice up your relationship. Keep the dopamine flowing!
Get to know: Stephanie Sheets
Stephanie loves writing lifestyle pieces, as well as longer fiction pieces, and poetry. In her freshman year of college, she was a top 10 finalist for the Steger-Giovanni poetry competition at Virginia Tech.