What Being In Love Feels Like, According To Science

It really is chemistry.

Love, it's the universal emotion that people can't get enough of. It can be found in movies, books, plays, and the Bible ie. Corinthians anyone?

Whether you've been in love or not, most people don't know what's really going on in the heart brain when it happens. Those butterflies? Yeah they're real and they mean science .

Here's some things we discovered about this beloved feeling.


It's sorta like being on cocaine.

When you take drugs, certain hormones in the body activate. The same happens when a person falls in love and involves the same hormones, too. The chemicals resposible for the lovey dovey phase in a relationship are Dopamine and Norepinephrine, that also happen to get released after using cocaine.

Which means love is literally addicting.

When these hormones get set off, our brain wants more, in the same way that the brain craves drugs or alcohol. "Love is a profound addiction," says Helen Fisher, a biology anthropologist at Rutgers University. "This is important to know for people who can't walk out of a relationship. You've got to treat it as an addiction."

And love, or lack thereof, can also make you sick.

Like withdrawal, heartbreak can cause physical pain as well by suppressing a person's immune system. Professor Janet Lord, who wote a book about the effect heartbreak has on the body, explains: "There are a lot of anecdotes about couples who were married for 40 years when one of them passes away, and then the other dies a few days later. It seems there is a biological basis for this. Rather than dying of a broken heart, however, they are dying of a broken immune system."

There is such thing as a "bonding" hormone.

And it's released when you spend time with someone you love. Known as "Oxytocin" the hormone activates when couples are intimate. It's the same hormone produced when a mother breastfeeds her child.

Love and sex are intertwined.

Thanks to said bonding hormone Oxytocin, sex plays a major role in bringing a couple closer together. The hormone gets released during orgasm causing a few things to happen: 1) The couple feeling more attracted to the other person and 2) Feeling more emotionally connected to that person as well.

Date nights can affect your love for someone.

Love is largely based on a reward system. You give something and get something, and the exchange keeps you coming back for more. The same goes for date nights. If you and your partner have date nights that add an element of newness to the relationship, you're bond could strengthen. Remember those butterfly stage hormones? Norepinephrine and Dopamine? They're the same hormones reacted when you experience something fresh with someone else.

Having couple friends can deepen love as well.

Wayne State University study found that when couples befriend and interact with other couples, they're more likely to have a stronger bond. When couples were placed in a group with other couples, they reported feeling positive aferwards and feeling better about their own relationships compared to the couples who didn't interact with other couples in a group. 

The hormones produced when in love are strong enough to provide therapy for certain disorders.

Oxytocin, the drug produced between lovers and mothers and babies, is often used to treat people with Autism. According to the 2010 study "Oxytocin allowed autistic patients to adjust to their social context by identifying the differing behaviors displayed by those around them and then acted accordingly."

You may lose some friends.

An Oxford University study found that people tend to lose friends when they enter into a romantic relationship. Of the core friends, which averages out to about 5 people, people in love lose at least 2 of them. The problem comes from the idea that when you add a person to whom you frequewnltly see in your life, you inadvently push another person out. "If you don't see people, the emotional engagement starts to drop off, and quickly," said Professor Dunbar.

People can be attracted to another person's genes — or smell.

Sometimes, we have no control over intial attraction at all. Research suggests that we subconsciously look for people who will yield the best offspring through good genes (which we perceive by how attracted we are to that person) and through their smell. 


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.