The Ways Love Does A Number On Your Brain and Body, According To Science
Even the oldest written love song sings: “You have captivated me, let me stand tremblingly before you.” These are the lyrics of “The Love Song for Shu-Sin,” which dates to approximately 2000 B.C. Love has always fascinated us because no matter how hard we try we can’t always rationalize it.
It seems like sometimes it just takes over our whole body and mind to the point when we don’t even feel in control anymore. But love can actually be understood through science and the ways we have found it to impact our bodies and mind hold a lot of answers. Here are the biggest impacts on the body of mind once we’re hit by Cupid’s arrow.
If you want to know more about what your birth chart reveals about how you love and what you need out of a partner, check out this personalized report based on date of birth.
Love Is All In The Brain
When we think of love, we tend to think of it as a matter of the heart, where logic and the brain aren’t involved. But it actually all happens in the brain. The brain is triggered by love, which is what impacts your mood and behavior when you first meet someone you’re into. However, some of these first effects linger and make you crave commitment over time.
Basically, when you meet someone you like, you feel good, and you associate the “good” feeling with that person, making you want to spend more time with them. This is the first step in the process of choosing an ideal mate to reproduce with, according to biology.
All Consuming Euphoria
That giddy, euphoric excitement when you walk through the door after a successful date, or even simply at the sound of their name, is thanks to a release of dopamine to your neurotransmitters. This feeling is often compared to being high because it triggers the same reward system.
Your brain concludes that your crush holds the key to releasing more of that pleasurable chemical, pushing you to seek more of them. When you do actually see them again, your brain “rewards” you with more dopamine, which you experience as intense pleasure. The same pleasurable behavior is experienced when you’re eating or listening to music.
The reason why you fantasize about your whole future together after just one good date is not that you’re delusional and getting ahead of yourself. It’s a normal response to spending time together. When you spend quality time with someone you lik3, you increase oxytocin levels, boosting feelings of attachment, safety, and trust.
This is why you feel comfortable with someone you connect with and feel like you’ve known them forever. Oxytocin is also nicknamed the cuddle hormone, because it gets stronger after touching, kissing, or being intimate. It has the power to strengthen your bond.
Never Ending Compromise, Even To Red Flags
Ever look back on a failed relationship and wonder how you could have overlooked so many of the warning signs? Don’t blame yourself too much because love increases your willingness to compromise and sacrifice. These sacrifices quickly go from small decisions like what to have for dinner to life-changing ones like moving across the world for your partner.
This willingness to compromise is said to happen as partners become more synced up thanks in part to the vagus nerve. This nerve controls big parts of your body and brain, including your facial expressions and heart rhythm. You’ll notice yourselves walking at the same pace, feeling each other’s sadness, and even synch up your breathing.
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There is a reason you simply can’t stop thinking about someone you love, having them even creep up in your dreams. Scientists compare feelings of love to the brain region associated with obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
This reinforces your desire to want to spend more time with them, which is what moves the relationship forward until you’re fully committed to each other. However, it’s possible that it makes you act “out of character” with your brain being consumed with anxiety over what they’re doing, and how much they really like you.
Love Helps You Live Longer
What if we told you that love can actually potentially extend your lifespan? A research study reviewed 95 articles that compared the death rate for single people to the death rate for people who were married or lived with partners. They found that single people had a much higher risk for early death of about 24 percent.
High marital satisfaction increases this rate, so not only does it make a difference to have a partner, but actually satisfied in marriage increases life span 3.2 times. This is probably due to support and being able to share effort, finances, chores, etc.
Love Is Really Good For Your Health
Love is actually good for you on a physiological level too and being in a committed relationship can have a positive impact on your overall health. Some of the benefits include a decreased risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, improved immune health, and faster recovery from illness.
Loeve has also been shown to lower levels of risk because of the positive feelings associated with oxytocin and dopamine production. Not only does it improve your mood and lower your stress, but it makes you feel like you can take on even life’s most challenging events.
Love Can Heal Your Pain
At the risk of breaking your heart, love can also heal your pain. Even just thinking about someone you love without their physical presence can provide you with comfort.
A study that observed 15 adults in romantic relationships found that participants reported less pain both when looking at a photo of their partner. The study authors also suggested that looking at a partner’s photo activated the brain’s reward system, which suggests that this activation may lower your perception of pain, or increases your tolerance.
But Love Can Also Break You
As beautiful as love can be, it can also be completely heartbreaking. On a physical level, the stress of love especially when it’s not going well, produces norepinephrine and adrenaline, the same hormones your body releases when you face danger or other crises. Sometimes the anxiety of the “butterflies” can even make you throw up.
Love also takes a toll on your sleep and appetite, especially in the early uncertain stages of a relationship. The anxiety makes it hard to eat, and the reward system effect makes you fixate on that person. You might feel like your entire mood is completely dependent on them.
In any relationship, always look at how you feel and ask yourself: does this person make you love yourself more? Do you want to grow old with them?
Love is more than just kisses and butterflies, it’s much more than that. If you want to know more on what your birth chart reveals about how you love and what you need out of a partner, check out this personalized report based on date of birth.
Aria Misty is a recent university grad. She did her undergrad in media, information & technoculture with a Master in Journalism & Communications in 2018.
Aria has a particular interest in all things astrology and spirituality. This is driven by her desire to create healing. In fact, Aria went back to school for A master’s in counseling p[…]