We are going to start this article discussing the chemistry of love!
What makes us attracted to someone when we first see them? The answer isn’t so simple—any combination of factors might draw us to another person. Let’s be honest, we often don’t like to say we are interested in someone because of their looks. However, another person’s physical appearance can spark our curiosity and ignite a conversation. It is then that a person’s smile, their personality, sense of humor, kindness or genuineness can keep the conversation going and potentially start a new relationship. But it can be difficult to decipher the difference between lust and love/attraction. At this point, you might find yourself in:
Stage 1: Lust – before and quickly after meeting a new person you’ve got the hots for, testosterone and estrogen are coursing through your body and brain. These hormones elicit our “sexy feelings” we feel for another person.
As the conversation continues, you might find out pieces of information about this person that result in you being genuinely interested in him/her. These bits will be different for everyone as we each find different aspects of people alluring and intriguing; and they can range from liking the same music or movies you do, to things such as their confidence or self-esteem. Watch out! You’ve found yourself in:
Stage 2: Attraction – soon after striking up a conversation with this new person, “Love Neurotransmitters” flood our brains making us obsessed with our new object of desire. High levels of dopamine, the feel good neurotransmitter, and norepinephrine, the neurotransmitter responsible for feeling alert as well as making our hearts pound when we feel nervous, are present in our brains.
This attraction phase holds out for some time. We are often infatuated with our newfound romantic interest and we love talking about him/her. With time comes a decrease in the levels of the “Love Neurotransmitters” as well as our bodies become tolerant to the levels. This is not a bad thing. No longer feeling those ‘butterflies’ in our stomachs means that we are becoming comfortable being around our partners. Feeling comfortable around our partners means that we are able to start forming:
Stage 3: Attachment – In this stage, chemicals that help us feel bonded and intimate with our partners become more present. These chemicals (oxytocin and vasopressins) are released when you’re holding hands, cuddling, and during/after sexual activity with the person you care about. For some people, these feelings of attachment happen more quickly than for others; and for others, it takes some time.
With this concoction of love neurotransmitters, hormones, and physical reactions, our sex drives and our brains start to work in harmony. As we start to fall in love and feel attracted to a partner, testosterone (which is known to boost sex drives) levels increase causing us to want to have sex and feel intimate with our partners. Engaging in sexual activity with people we love releases more oxytocin and vasopressins, making us feel more connected; creating a cycle that we love to complete. But be careful!! Our brains and bodies do become tolerant to such high levels of these love neurotransmitters. When you become tolerant, feelings of boredom or losing interest may spike, and you may feel as though you are falling out of love. Just remember to remind yourself of how you really feel about this person.
So you want to fall in love? Well, surprisingly it doesn’t have to take a countless number of dates to do so. In fact, it can be done in a little more than 30 minutes. Here’s what you do:
Step 1: Find a person. Make sure this person is also interested in going on a date or at least getting to know you better, as we tend to be interested in people who are interested in us. So if you’ve found someone you find interesting, be nice, and do what you can to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward (but do so in a way that you are being true to yourself).
Step 2: Spend 15 minutes each talking. What you will be discussing is important. Stay away from trivial bits of information such as your favorite color or book. What you’ll do is discuss things that may not be “first date material” but that is the point. You’ll want to discuss things that are important to you in life (for example: family, charity, religion) and really divulge them. You’ll also want to tell the other person serious personality flaws you have, things you don’t necessarily tell people you’ve just met.
Step 3: Stare at each other (not in a creepy way). Once you’ve each spent 15 minutes disclosing your secrets and who you are, look into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes, continuously. Do not break eye contact and do not talk. Staring into another person’s eyes for extended periods of time releases those Love Neurotransmitters (dopamine, oxytocin, norepinephrine) that we talked about earlier. You may want to laugh, while laughing is good because it increases feelings of connectedness, try not to break eye contact.
Follow these steps and the connection you make with another person will be strong and hopefully lead to a second date. If you don’t feel the connection with this person, that’s okay as well. The worst that happens is that you went on a date, and put yourself out there. Keep trying, there are plenty of folks who are looking for love, find each other.
Now, this might all seem a little too simplistic to say that falling in love is just being aware of what’s happening in our brains; especially since humans and by extension our behaviors are much more complex than boiling them down to chemicals and hormones. This is a guide to help you better understand what might be happening when you meet someone you find attractive and that you’d like to get to know better.