Love: It’s Not Just in Your Head


Your heart races, your palms sweat, your body is on edge and fixated on one thing.

Being chased by a tiger? Nope. Honey, you’re falling in love.

That flood of feelings we all get when falling in love is more than just “in our heads.” Scientists have noticed actual biochemical reactions occurring. It turns out that when you have “chemistry” with someone – it’s literally due to feel-good chemicals triggered within your own body.

There are a few major substances to thank for these sensations. The stress of first meeting someone can trigger the release of norepinephrine and epinephrine (also called adrenaline), which causes your heart to beat quickly, your cheeks to flush, your palms to sweat and a general restlessness. Incidentally, these are also the main chemicals responsible for your body’s “fight or flight” response.

Another chemical called dopamine also chimes in. This is your brain’s reward chemical that results in that euphoria and walking-on-cloud-nine feeling. It’s one of the main chemicals released when people abuse drugs like cocaine, meaning falling in love can literally give you a “high.” Dopamine release also acts to block parts of your frontal cortex, which is responsible for judging other people. That’s why you get that that “Love is blind” feeling.

Over time, the balance of these chemicals in your brain shifts thanks to the actions of oxytocin and vasopressin. Oxytocin helps to drop your stress levels while working with vasopressin to for a strong bond, a sense of security and sense of well being that goes along with a stable, long-term relationship.

Love is a wild ride! So, the next time your friends complain that all you talk about is the new Mr. Amazing you just met, tell them you can blame your brain chemistry. Ah, l’amour …