CHEMISTRY OF LOVE

Source: Pat McChristie

Love and Being in Love: Love is in our mind and is fueled by chemicals and chemistry.

Throughout history, mankind has deemed the heart the center of love. But scientists tell us love is all in our mind or brain. And fueled by chemicals and chemistry.

Infatuation

When two people are attracted to each other, a virtual explosion of adrenaline-like nuerochemicals gush forth. Fireworks explode and we see stars. PEA or phenylethylamine is a chemical that speeds up the flow of information between nerve cells.

Also, involved in chemistry are dopamine and norepinephrine, chemical cousins of amphetamines. Dopamine makes us feel good and norepinephrine stimulates the production of adrenaline. It makes our heart race!

These three chemicals combine to give us infatuation or “chemistry.” It is why new lovers feel euphoric and energized, and float on air. It is also why new lovers can make love for hours and talk all night for weeks on end.

This is the chemistry or the love sparks we all seek.

Actually when we have chemistry with someone, it’s not exactly flattering. In fact, some might call it insulting.

Why? According to Harville Hendrix, neuroscientist , our brain dumps PEA when we identify someone who can:

1. Finish our childhood business.
2. Give us back what we lost to the socialization process of growing up.

Singles search for love armed with a list of qualities desired in a mate/lover, such as honesty, fidelity, loyalty, sense of humor, intelligence, warmth, etc. Yet when that person appears they say, He/she is a really nice person, but nothing clicked, just no “chemistry.”

Unfortunately, we hear that click when we recognize our original parent/child situation. That’s when our brain really gets those phenylethylamines and other chemicals moving.

Some people become veritable love junkies. They need chemistry or this chemical excitement to feel happy about and intoxicated by life. Once this initial rush of chemicals wanes (inevitable after six months to three years, depending on the individual and the circumstances), their relationship crumbles. They’re soon off again, detectives seeking a quick fix to their forlorn feelings: another chemical high from infatuation.

These love junkies also have one other problem. The body builds up a tolerance to these chemicals. Then it takes more and more chemistry to bring that special feeling of love. They crave the intoxication of chemistry and infatuation.

Many adults go through life in a series of six-month to three-year relationships. If these love junkies stay married, they are likely to seek affairs to fuel their chemical highs.
Single??

Monogamy

Only about three percent of mammals are monogamous, mating and bonding with one partner for life. Unfortunately, scientists tell us humans are not one of these naturally monogamous mammals.

Maybe a few injections of vasopressin would help us. It has been called the monogamy chemical.

By isolating male voles before and after mating, scientists found that lifelong mating could be linked to the action of vasopressin. Before mating, the male vole is friendly to male and female voles alike. Within 24 hours after mating, the male vole is hooked for life.

When the chemical vasopressin kicks in, he is indifferent to all females but one. He is also totally aggressive to other males with a classic exhibition of the jealous husband syndrome.

Cuddling

The chemical oxytocin has been termed the cuddling chemical. Linked to milk production in women, oxytocin makes women and men calmer and more sensitive to the feelings of others.

It plays an important role in romantic love as a sexual arousal hormone that signals orgasm and prompts cuddling between lovers before, during, and after lovemaking.

Oxytocin production is derived from both emotional and physical cues. A lover’s voice, his/her certain look, or even a sexual fantasy can trigger the release of oxytocin.

Attachment

When infatuation subsides, a new group of chemicals takes over. This new type of chemical reward is created by endorphins.

These morphine-like opiates calm and reassure with intimacy, dependability, warmth, and shared experiences. Not as exciting or as stressful as PEA, but steadier and more addictive.

The longer two people have been married, the more likely it is that they’ll stay married. In part, they become addicted to the endorphins and marital serenity. It is the absence of endorphins that make long-time partners yearn for each other when apart. Absent endorphins also play a part in grief from the death of a spouse.

“Adrenaline-based love is all about ourselves, we like being in love. With endorphins, we like loving.”

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