What we call "love" is a chemical cocktail of neurotransmitters, hormones, and pheromones released by the brain.
"Falling in love" is a whole body experience and it feels fantastic! Researchers with the latest powerful tools, such as fMRI machines and spectrometers, have uncovered new insights into one of life's greatest pleasures: "Falling in love". ("Falling in lust" might be more accurate!)
The first "falling in love" body chemical activated is dopamine. When love strikes, the first sensations are triggered in the brain where there is an abundance of brain cells sensitive to dopamine. These dopamine sensitive areas in the brain are associated with pleasurable expectations and rewards. However, women have different expectations and rewards than men.
The "falling in love" sequence of events is this for most women:
Men are hunters and hunting for a mate is an on-going daily job for most single men. They are visual hunters looking for any woman who looks appealing and available. What appeals to one man may be different from what appeals to the next man. But that makes the hunt more exciting!
When a woman is seen, the hunter's instinct evaluates how she looks and the risks involved in completing the "capture". For many men the "capture" means: "Is he going to get sex?" Sorry ladies, don't forget, healthy men make a couple million sperm a day, and that is a powerful motivation to seek relief with any woman open to the taking.
Another part of the hunter instinct in men is the need to be a great hunter in the eyes of the other men in the tribe. In today's world this is called a "trophy wife". The "capture" of a good looking woman is a huge ego boost for every status-seeking male. Remember ladies, men are inherent status-seekers always trying to prove they are the greatest hunter and, therefore, deserving of the top leadership in the tribe. It is in men's DNA from their ancient ancestors.
The next step men usually take in their hunting game when looking for a mate is to keep the connection loose and short, but engaging enough to get still what he wants from the woman. Lying and promises don't count but are used if they facilitate him achieving his desired goal. This is usually a "one-nighter".
But interestingly, nature is on the woman's side! Just as he is reaching his goal (if he is lucky), his brain releases a neurotransmitter chemical called oxytocin. Sometimes this changes all the plans for some men!
Oxytocin is a mammalian hormone that produces a strong, satisfying feeling of connectedness between lovers and also for their offspring. Through evolutionary selection, oxytocin has been programmed to kick-in when it is needed most for the couple to stick together in order to raise and protect their offspring -- who inevitably show up after the period of dopamine and testosterone saturated passion.
Large amounts of oxytocin are also produced in women's bodies when giving birth to children and also during breastfeeding. It is also in many animals and birds who mate for life. Oxytocin is a natural body chemical that drives people to be more nurturing, giving, and protective. Women have approximately seven times more oxytocin receptors in their body than men. This may explain why women especially like chocolate: chocolate contains a small amount of oxytocin.
Our human bodies are primarily designed to make babies and more copies of our DNA in our children.
The sequence of events when "falling in love" is a well-established chemically-driven behavior designed to perpetuate our DNA in offspring.
Our ancestors probably did not call the baby-making process "love" but they still had a lot of fun -- or else we would have gone extinct long ago.
© Copyright 2015 by Lawrence Rodrigues, M.S., Director: EastWest Institute for Self-Understanding
All rights reserved worldwide.