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The science behind love

By : Lin Xuan & Gail Murzello

Attraction


What happens when you see an attractive person? What explains a mother’s love towards her child? Why do we cry when our pets die? What makes us want to do a particular task so much?


They say ‘Love is all about chemical reaction’, ‘the Love hormones’, ‘It’s human reaction to want to reproduce’.


This article attempts to explain what happens to your body when you feel love in its various forms.


Physical Attraction


Physical attraction refers to the degree of a person's physical features that are considered beautiful or aesthetically pleasing to any specific person. Physical attraction is a science. It is a reaction between the chemistry of two bodies, and there is nothing we can do to hide it anyway.

Lust

Physical attraction is driven by the desire for sexual gratification. Our body is wired in such a way that our species would continue to pass on their genes. In order for human species to exist, internally our body wants to ensure the best genes to ensure survival. Hence, generally speaking, we choose the best looking, most intelligent, most skillful and in the modern world, it seems, the wealthiest we can find.

Pause here and think about your criteria of finding a spouse and have a thought of the reasons.


The Science behind ‘Physical Attraction’

When you are physically attracted to someone, your hypothalamus of your brain stimulates the production of the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen from the testes and ovaries. Now we know why we tend to be madly in ‘love’ during our hormone raging age.


Do you remember knowing your crush for the first week? You are all energetic, you cannot sleep, you are happy most of the time? The relationship as they called it - the Honeymoon Period is extremely exhilarating and addictive.


Well, that is because of the existence of Dopamine. Dopamine is released when we do things that feel good to us. These chemicals make us feel giddy, energetic, and euphoric, even leading to decreased appetite and insomnia – which can be the reason why you are energetic and you no longer pick at your food.


Dopamine is released when you spend time with loved ones and/or while having sex. The list also includes things we do that make us happy, for example, helping someone. It seems the famous ‘Damsel in Distress’ strategy works in an attempt to attract someone.


Another hormone called norepinephrine, also known as noradrenalin, which is responsible for our fight or flight response, kicks into high gear when we are stressed and keeps us alert. The next time you see someone attractive, you may want to impress him or her with your knowledge.


Nothing’s like a Mother’s Love

What can explain the mother’s unconditional love for their child ? Why do mothers always care for their child?



The Science behind ‘Selfless Love’

Oxytocin is produced during birth, stimulating contractions, and during lactation, stimulating the 'milk ejection reflex', is also involved in other 'loving behaviors'.

Oxytocin is not exclusive to mothers. Oxytocin is produced during sexual acts and even the simple act of sharing a meal with others.

In fact, oxytocin is special in a way that it promotes ‘altruistic love’. When we care for someone without any condition, we express them through selfless acts like charity, protecting a baby, playing with your pets.


Buying Material items - Retail Therapy

What do you do when you are sad or stressed out? It is known that many of us turn to retail therapy or finding ‘good food’.


Retail therapy is shopping with the primary purpose of improving the buyer's mood or disposition. Often seen in people during periods of depression or stress, it is normally a short-lived habit. Items purchased during periods of retail therapy are sometimes referred to as "comfort buys".

Interestingly, just browsing, scrolling or window shopping (but not buying something) can positively impact your mood. Again, the hormone dopamine makes you anticipate the eventual possibility of the reward, making you happy.

It is interesting to note that Dopamine is released before you actually get a reward or purchase an item. This makes one wonder whether money is better spent on experiences or items. For obvious reasons, dopamine lasts longer in one than the other.


Why do people love Sports and Music?

Sports Therapy

We all know that exercise has physical and emotional benefits. This is the same reason why people keep going back for more. If you’ve heard of a “runner’s high,” you might already know about the link between exercise and endorphin release.


Regular physical activity can also increase your dopamine and serotonin levels, making it a great option to boost your happy hormones.


Music Therapy

Similarly, music can also help put you in a good mood, it also releases dopamine and serotonin. But if you enjoy music, simply listening to music you enjoy may help put you in a good mood. This positive change in your mood can increase serotonin production. If you can play any instruments, it also helps produce endorphins together with the combination of dopamine and serotonin. Now wonder musicians love what they do!


Conclusion:

They say “Love itself is a Reward”. Nothing can be further from this truth. With more ‘love hormones’ being produced, it continues to make us love others more yet these same hormones can make us addicted to things - making us greedy, develop obsessive attachment to people- making us jealous and at its worst, leading us to substance abuse. The ‘love hormones’ influences our choices, which has an impact on our habits and forms our character.


Further readings:

Love, Actually: The science behind lust, attraction, and companionship https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2017/love-actually-science-behind-lust-attraction-companionship/#:~:text=High%20levels%20of%20dopamine%20and,eat%20and%20can't%20sleep.

Why Retail “Therapy” Makes you Happier

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/retail-therapy-shopping-compulsion/#:~:text=Shopping%20restores%20a%20sense%20of,personal%20control%20over%20our%20environment.&text=A%202014%20study%20from%20the,can%20also%20fight%20lingering%20sadness.

How to Hack your Hormones for Better Mood

https://www.healthline.com/health/happy-hormone#affection


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