Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

This is what happens to your brain when you fall in love

500 dates of summer.jpg

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine our innermost thoughts and feelings as simple chemical messages firing off in our brains.

But even the deepest emotions that we experience – such as feelings of intense hatred or the heady moments of falling in love – can be equated with neurotransmitters nestled across our brains.

Unsurprisingly, the study of what happens in our brains as we fall in love has fascinated scientists for decades, and numerous discoveries have been made about the chemical processes that occur as our emotions tip from lust to love.

Now two scientists have finally collated the evidence, with Xiaomeng (Mona) Xu, an assistant professor of experimental psychology, and Ariana Tart-Zelvin, a clinical doctoral candidate, both working in Idaho State University, sharing the most compelling findings to date in an article for Scientific American.

What happens in our brains as we fall in love?

What happens in our brains as we fall in love?

First of all, the pair reference a study that indicates the process of falling in love is monitored by two brain regions.


Read more: Three simple tips for dating if your confidence is at rock bottom


The are the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the caudate nucleus, and they work to distribute the “feel good” neurotransmitter dopamine across our brains as well as playing an important role in regulating our reward pathway.

This means that, as we fall in love, we literally begin to crave being around our partner because they make us feel good.

As we fall in love, we begin to crave spending time with our partner

As we fall in love, we begin to crave spending time with our partner

Secondly, the scientists state that as we fall deeper in love, this feeling grows stronger – but only for as long as we continue to be satisfied by the relationship.

They reference the findings from their own neuroimaging research, which found the simple act of thinking about a loved one can both make you feel good but also help protect you from negative emotions such as stress and pain.

And happily, the researchers conclude that these feelings don’t necessarily fade over time. Contrary to the idea that the heady first stages of love are more powerful than the comfortable and established later stages, the researchers reference a study which showed participants who had been married for an average of 21.4 years and still felt passionate love for each other had similar dopamine activity to those who were at the beginning of their relationship.

So perhaps keeping the passion alive really is the key to a successful relationship…

To read the full article, click here

Images: iStock / Twentieth Century Fox

Related

girls hbo shoshana.jpg

Science reveals why sitting at a computer all day is exhausting

Dark-Victory.jpg

How to retrain your mind in moments of chronic stress

More

The deadly secret hidden within that creepy Game of Thrones hug

Spoilers are coming…

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017

Why it’s totally fine if you don’t have a ‘work wife’

Having friends at work is nice – but it’s not the be all and end all

by Moya Crockett
18 Aug 2017

Meteorologist’s epic response to troll who called her “disgusting”

“Enough is enough.”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
18 Aug 2017

Acts of love, humanity and solidarity following the Barcelona attack

In the darkness, there is light.

by Moya Crockett
18 Aug 2017

How you can help those caught up in the Barcelona attack

The ways you can support the victims, survivors and investigation

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017

People are furious about Trump’s response to the Barcelona attack

The world is sick of his double-standard on terrorism

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017

Ryan Phillipe on how he tackles depression

“I’m thinking about how to focus and steady myself”

by Susan Devaney
17 Aug 2017

Are black girls being forced to grow up too fast?

A study has shown that black girls as young as five are seen as more adult than their white peers

by Kemi Alemoru
17 Aug 2017

Teen receives sickening messages after asking for career advice

This businessman's response was shocking

by Sarah Biddlecombe
17 Aug 2017

We want everything from this new high-street Disney collaboration

Seriously magical

by Megan Murray
17 Aug 2017