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Love…and Science?

Your heart skips a beat, there is an extra spring in your step, and somehow you just can’t get that special someone off your mind. That one of a kind moment that you realize your deeper-than-friendship feelings for that special someone is something truly unmatchable. Relationships are a beautiful thing, allowing us to open ourselves and our lives to somebody who we feel enhances who we are. Though they often have their ups and downs, it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all…right?

Love and relationships: prominent factors in our young lives…but related to science? Of course!

A BBC Article I read recently provides some very interesting scientific background about love and relationships. It suggests that falling in love is broken down into three main stages: lust, attraction, and attachment. Each stage is outlined with the hormones that are produced in excess during that specific time. A very fascinating portion of the article talks about how teenagers (that’s us!) may even experience these stages to be much stronger due to the increase in hormonal activity at this faaaabulous time in our lives.

While I definitely do agree with the information presented in the article, I feel like it reduces the glory of falling in love to a scientific process. Isn’t there so much more to it? Or is love really just chemical reactions in our body that signal to us who that special someone is? What do you think about love, is it merely science or is it something far beyond the realm of experiments and labs?

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 31, 2011 at 3:57 am

    Lots and lots of chemicals! The brain is a freaky thing! It not only makes us see what we want to see (see The Science Behind Our Favorite Scary Games) but it also controls what we feel about different people. I agree with this article from the scientific stand point. I knew about most of those chemicals and how they related to human relationships. In fact, I have heard many people argue that the attachment effects oxytocin are a reason for not sleeping around.

    But personal beliefs aside, there is one thing that I thought the article lacked, a fuller understanding of what is involved in a relationship, at least the kind that lasts for 50+ years! It was a science article and did an excellent job of explaining the science, but it made it seem as if relationships are merely chemical signals interpreted by the brain. In reality, those feeling and chemical stimuli fade over time and all you’re left with is waking up next to an old person every morning who complains of the same knee and back pains that you have.

    I think, and who dare say know, that relationships, good ones anyway, require work. Both people need to constantly reaffirm their commitment to one another, particularly as the years go by, and your sex drive fades, and you get tired more easily, and don’t feel the need to surprise your significant other because you think it will make them happy. Life gets harder, not easier as we get older, and it takes commitment well beyond a simple chemical stimulus to maintain a relationship.

  2. November 1, 2011 at 2:30 am

    This BBC article was very interesting. I had heard about theories that love and attraction were all controlled by science but this article actually gave these theories specific explanations. I have to agree with kingscrown7 because science can really only get you so far in relationships. I think that short term, attraction based relationships can be explained by science, but long term deep feeling relationships must be powered by true love, whatever that is. I don’t think that ‘true love’ can actually be explained by science or anything really, when I look at older couples who have been in love for years and continue to be in love, I don’t think that it is still just oxytocin and vasopressin involved.

    I am sure that science plays a large part in people’s attraction to each other, but I definitely don’t think that it can explain long lasting true love. This might just be my personal naive belief but I’m standing by it! Science has a way of ruining the mystery and the magic of a lot of things, which is usually very interesting, but I like to think that love is actually something that can’t be completely explained by science.

  3. November 1, 2011 at 6:26 am

    I believe that love is all a matter of the brain tricking us in order to preserve the species. But that doesn’t mean I think it’s not special. It’s special because it’s so rare, and few people ever find it, and have it last.

    I personally think that most people just settle for their significant other, because they can’t find a more attractive person. They decide that if they don’t take what they can get, they can never have the opportunity to get it again.

    So if you ever find mutual love, treasure it.

  4. November 5, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I once heard a Radio Lab Valentine’s Day feature which discussed the specific neurotransmitters involved in love and lust. In general, they broke it into three main chemicals: oxytocin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. They said that each of these chemicals was necessary for a different emotion involved in romantic interest. Dopamine surges through the brain antagonizing pleasure receptors and it accredited with passionate, euphoric love. These are the same neurotransmitters emulated by accelerant drugs like cocaine. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that continues to communicate good feelings in your brain already set up by dopamine and is also responsible for focused attention. The guest on the show described it as such: dopamine is what gets you ready to party, gets you having a good time in the first place, but norepinephrine is what gets you to ask that good looking blonde over there if she wants to swing by your place later and listen to some Van Morrison. Norepinephrine is responsible for infatuation while dopamine is responsible for passion; norepinephrine is what focuses dopamine’s feelings in one place on one person. Oxytocin is responsible for lasting love. While norepinephrine and dopamine come on strong, they fade quickly. So oxytocin is responsible for maintaining the relationships. It gives one the sense of peace and stability and a sense of happiness (not euphoria). If one’s brain was constantly flowing with dopamine and norepinephrine it would fry it out, but oxytocin can give the brain a more subtle but more sustainable high allowing humans to form lasting relationships.

    If you ask me, most of human behavior is related to one antagonized receptor or some Oedipal issue somewhere. Most of our actions are influenced to some degree by things of which we may not have the greatest awareness. While it may be appealing to romanticize love, if you’ll pardon the pun, much of the romantic connection can be equated to chemicals. This isn’t to say that this love is necessarily any less special; the reasons those good-feeling chemicals are firing off is usually because you find the person interesting, funny, intelligent, attractive, etc.

    http://www.radiolab.org/blogs/radiolab-blog/2007/aug/28/this-is-your-brain-on-love/

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