We consider love to be in the realm of the poets and artists, but scientists can unveil the biological motivations that spur history’s great love poems and love songs. Here are some entirely true facts about the science of love:
Fall in “Like” in Under 4 Minutes
According to psychologist Arthur Aron’s 1997 study “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness,” it takes between 90 seconds and 4 minutes to fall in love. In the time that it takes to enjoy a single speed dating session, your brain and body process thousands of cues from body language, tone of voice, and speech content to determine if this person piques your interest. No wonder speed dating is such an effective way to find a match!
Butterflies in Your Stomach
Do you feel a combination of excitement, fear, nerves, and euphoria when you see your new love? This knotty, topsy-turvy feeling in your stomach, combined with sweaty palms, dry mouth, and fast heartbeat is your body’s “fight or flight” response to stressors. Your body is kicking into high gear as a combination offensive/defensive measure, depending on whether you want to stay or run away. True love could be yours if you power through the nerves!
Your body’s “fight or flight” response also affects the dilation of your pupils. When you are attracted to someone, your pupils will dilate proportional to your attraction and desire to get busy. Likewise, people are more attracted to potential partners with wider pupils. So take a deep look into your match’s eyes, and you may find out all your need to know.
Get a Hit of Love
Falling in love provides a similar rush to cocaine. When you fall in love, brain chemicals which cause euphoria are released in twelve different areas of your brain. One of these chemicals is oxytocin (known as the “love hormone”) which is a natural painkiller. Embrace these good feelings for as long as they last.
A Brain in Love
When you are first falling in love, your brain has lower serotonin levels (making you happy and content), but higher cortisol levels (stress city). This combination means you might act out of character when you in the throes of early love. As you begin to settle into the relationship, so do your brain chemicals.
Romantic Love Has an Expiration
The “honeymoon stage” of relationships caused by elevated neurotrophins can only last so long, about a year for happy couples. Once it’s over, couples transition to a deeper, more intimate form of love known as “committed love.” That can last for decades and decades and only grows stronger over the years.
Whether you are speed dating looking for the right match or in a blissfully happy long-term relationship, the science of love is all around us.