We all know when we are attracted to someone or in love, but do we know why? Why is it that we are only attracted to certain people and feel so euphoric when we are involved in romance? Interestingly, it can all be explained by the science of love.
Before any sort of attraction takes place, the first and most vital component, must present as lust. Lust is defined as a passionate desire or craving. Charles Darwin explains human existence as Survival of the fittest, and one criteria of fitness has been defined as the amount of offspring one produces. Therefor, through evolution, humans have come to lust after sexual activity, which is activated by the sex hormones in men and women (testosterone and estrogen/progesterone respectively). This sexual interest is what causes the effect of one’s aim to be the fittest. So, in order to be attracted to someone–whether it be a man or woman–people must first experience lust for sexual activity.
After lust comes attraction. There are several chemicals which are released in order for you to feel this attraction. Through experiences, along with what we have been exposed to during our lifetime, we have a certain perception of what is “beautiful/handsome” and what is not. Seeing someone who portrays this image is what causes the release of the certain chemicals which causes the attraction. In fact, 70% of men are attracted to women who are classified as “curvy?” The psychological explanation suggests that this is so because throughout evolution a women who is able to carry a child will often be most desired by men. Curvy women were perceived as being able to carry a healthier child, than women who were underweight.
Moving on, let us look at the specific hormones involved in attraction, love and attachment:
This hormone is what causes your heart rate to increase, your pupils to dilate, your pores to perspire, and other physical symptoms. When your pupils dilate, it is a response that is caused by the interest in the person or subject who is sexually stimulating to you. Pupils dilate in order to allow more light into the eye; this assists you in pursuing the individual for efficiently. Generally, this hormone is what causes your heart to race, the feeling of nervousness, dry mouth, and the butterflies in your stomach; Epinephrine can be labelled as the hormone which is released when you are charmed by someone.
This is a chemical which is involved in desire and reward, overall it has been classified as the pleasure hormone. Dopamine has proved to present itself in individuals who have been “love struck.” It is brought about by the release of phenethylamine, which is also involved in attraction. Dopamine and phenethylamine are two chemicals which induce feelings that can also be felt by taking drugs such as cocaine (which releases excess dopamine) and amphetamines ( which contain properties that can be linked to phenethylamine). With these facts in mind, one may agree love is a drug, that is why people feel better about themselves, have more energy, and are excited about life, when in ecstasy with their partners. The brain becomes sensitized to the extra release of these chemicals, and that is why it becomes difficult to live without the person you love. Being apart from the individual you love is analogous to a drug addict in rehab, they feel compelled to relapse. No wonder why some boys and girls get so attached, also referred to as “being whipped”. This is not entirely their fault. It’s like a pot head trying to quit weed, it is quite difficult for them to do!
These are two hormones which are released during sexual activity, as well as while cuddling! Oxytocin is released during the male and female orgasm, and has been known to be associated as the attachment hormone. This is why following intercourse, couples become more attached and feel more connected with their partners. However, it is not just sexual intercourse that releases oxytocin, cuddling also releases this hormone. Cuddling with each other can also create that feeling of attachment.
Both oxytocin and vasopressin have similar structures, and therefore both allow attachment to occur. Vasopressin can be associated with the feeling to stay committed to your partner and to feel protective over them.
It is popular belief that love simply occurs naturally, well it does not. Without the release of these hormones, and others not specified, people would be unable to feel attracted, be able to fall in love, and feel that sense of attachment.
Stay tuned for next week’s health tip!
Written by: Noreen