What Does Love Really Mean to Your Brain?
Love is a powerful emotion that affects our lives in ways we may never know. But it can also be a difficult thing to define and understand.
The word “love” has a long history of meanings and ambiguities, and many people struggle to find their own definition. A simple dictionary definition might read something like, “an intense feeling of deep affection,” but this does little to explain the complexities of true love.
When you’re in love, you might be feeling a lot of emotions at once, from euphoria to depression. There’s a lot going on in your body that contributes to this feeling, but it all starts with your brain.
Those feelings of lust and attraction are the result of a chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel excited about spending time with your favorite person or seeing them across the room. But that feeling of attraction doesn’t last forever. According to Dr Helen Fisher, a renowned anthropologist and author of The Love Book, there are three distinct stages of falling in love: lust, attraction, and attachment.
In lust, your mind and body are in a rush to make things happen. You might go overboard, and you might act carelessly without thinking about the consequences. But these are all normal reactions when you’re in the early stages of a relationship and you haven’t yet developed attachment to your loved one.
Your partner’s personality can also influence your mood. For example, if you like being around someone who seems happy and confident, you’re more likely to be happy when you spend time with them.
You might be more willing to try new things and look at things in a different way, too. For example, you might enjoy a trip to the zoo or even just a new restaurant if your loved one is excited about it.
But don’t be tempted to act on those feelings if you’re in the early stages of lust, because doing so can have serious repercussions. When you’re in lust, parts of your brain that help you detect danger and think clearly go into a state of temporary hibernation, which can interfere with your ability to make good decisions.
That means you might end up doing a lot of silly things that aren’t really a good idea, like confessing your feelings in front of a crowd or making a bold move to win your partner’s heart. This might not seem like a big deal, but it can be very dangerous.
If you want to be happy, it helps to stop looking forward and start appreciating the present. It takes a lot of work, but it’s well worth the effort.
You might be surprised to learn that being happy requires a lot less than you think. Studies have found that a smile, being told you’ve lost weight, and seeing someone you love holding hands can boost your spirits. Other things that help you feel better include sunshine, a freshly-washed bed, and seeing old couples hold hands.