Chemistry. It’s more than that class that you skipped in high school. It’s the driving force behind many of the things you see on a daily basis from combustion in your car engine to baking in your oven. In addition, it may even be responsible for your relationship. Do you geek out over a little science experiment? Then sit tight. We’re going to talk about the science of love. To begin, scientists are certain that falling in love goes hand-in-hand with some pretty heavy duty hormones. Studies have identified three phases of love, starting with sex hormones. You remember what it felt like in the beginning? You could barely keep your hands off your partner. (Thank you, testosterone and estrogen.) This is the time that most people can really feel the chemistry. It’s all about feeling – physically speaking. Sometimes your friends and even innocent bystanders can feel it, too. That’s why people tend to comment on the amazing chemistry between two actors who appear to be in love. The connection between them is so strong that there seems to be
something going on in the background. A little combustion of their own… When you hit phase two, you may have a little more self-control, but this time, neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin are in charge. Like phase one, there’s only one person on your mind, and my, are they distracting…that’s why our brains have evolved to usher us peacefully into phase three. Here, oxytocin and vasopressin take over, giving you and your partner the warm fuzzies that you feel in a committed relationship. In the words of Syracuse’s University’s Stephanie Ortigue, “love has a scientific basis.” So what is it exactly? What kickstarts our hormones and makes us feel like our world is exploding? According to science, it might be the way that you smell. A little scent can make those chemicals go a loooong way. No, we’re not saying that you need to shower. Studies have shown that our noses can detect the perfect mate based on DNA compatibility. Have you ever heard of the smelly T-shirt experiment? In short, it showed that your nose knows who you should be dating. Biologically, you’re evolutionarily wired to see out someone with complementary genes, so that any potential offspring will have a strong immune system. Hello, romance! But what if you’re looking for something more
than basic immunity? That’s where psychology comes in. Have you ever heard that opposites attract? Not so much. Unless we’re talking about DNA, that’s just not true. At least not in enduring relationships. “Similarity in attitudes, background and personality traits” are super important to maximize understanding and minimize arguments, as is geography. Are you and your honey neighbors? You’re in good company. Studies show that more than half of all couples lived within 16 blocks of each other at the beginning of their relationships. That’s just one of the many fascinating facts about falling in love summarized by pro-blogger Eric Barker. The truth is that there are many ways to improve your chances of love, and there are many ways to encourage someone to fall in love with you. That’s why books like The Game are so popular – they’re deeply rooted in psychology. Does that mean that love is nothing more than chemistry? Can we chalk it up to a psychiatrist’s practical joke and go home? Well, we don’t have to answer that. You already know the truth. You choose to be in a relationship with that special someone. Every day. There may be chemicals in the brain that promote bonding, and there may be a few psychological tricks that will make someone feel close to you, but the bond that you share with your partner goes so much deeper. It’s so mysterious. Why did you choose that person after all? It goes beyond your brain. Love is a matter of the heart.