Got love?

The science behind falling in love

He sees her from across the room. Enchanting golden brown curls, with eyes like pools of caramel. She’s laughing. The sweet sound rings throughout the room like chapel bells, and within the split seconds of time, he’s found himself completely enamored by her. 

But is love at first sight real? The short answer… no. The long answer, however, is much more complicated. 

The first stage of love is lust. It starts with testosterone and estrogen, and if you’ve taken high school biology, you know that these chemicals are inherently male and female leaning respectively. Both of these hormones are better known as the “lust hormones” and they are good for, well… you know. The same hormones responsible for that spark you feel with someone that you find attractive. 

Following closely comes attraction. Fueled by the presence of dopamine and norepinephrine. Which are just two very fancy words that can be simplified to mean “happy chemicals.” These happy chemicals are produced in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that is responsible for our brain’s “reward pathway.” This means that every time you do something you enjoy, or when you “reward” yourself, for instance, eating a large meal after a hard workout, your brain releases dopamine and norepinephrine. 

Dopamine, testosterone, and estrogen in combination have been found to essentially “shut off” the prefrontal cortex of your brain (a.k.a the rational decision making center).If you have ever done something embarrassing in front of your crush, blame it on the dopamine.

 These hormones from lust and attraction are great in moderate doses, however, engaging in too much of a dopamine inducing activity can be dangerous and can contribute to things like binging, addiction and gambling. This is called dopamine imbalance, and it can be very dangerous. 

In fact, dopamine imbalance can contribute to a number of conditions such as muscle stiffness, insomnia, digestion problems and even pneumonia in some cases. If you think you have a dopamine imbalance there are several things that you can do to tilt the scales back. Doctors commonly recommend remedies such as eating foods rich in L-Tyrosine (this protein is the building block of dopamine)like almonds, avocados, bananas and chicken or taking part in physical activities such as exercise, mediation and massage therapy. It is also recommended to take supplements such as Vitamin D, turmeric, and magnesium. 

So, you and your crush, significant other, etc, have made it through the lust and attraction phase and you are both starting to get comfortable around each other. You do everything together and you are starting to get attached. This attachment is mainly contributed to by oxytocin and vasopressin. Both of these happy chemicals are produced in the hypothalamus as well. You may be familiar with oxytocin as the “love hormone” or the “cuddle hormone.” It’s that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you spend time with someone you really like, and for some people, you may get that same warm and fuzzy feeling when you eat a piece of chocolate. This is because chocolate (especially dark chocolate) helps support oxytocin and dopamine regulation in the hypothalamus of your brain. 

In other words, you can fall for someone at first sight, but to unconditionally love them is so much more complicated, involving multiple chemicals, and different parts of your brain such as the hypothalamus and the prefrontal cortex. Love at first sight as far as science goes, doesn’t exist. The human heart, however, may be persuaded much more easily. 

… She sees him from across the room. He’s walking towards her steadily with a huge cheesy grin. Strong jaw and yet soft features, dark hair and deep set chocolatey brown eyes. They lock eyes on each other, and within the split seconds of time,  she’s found herself completely enamored by him.

It’s love at first sight. 

Or is it?