Love is a universally understood emotion; no matter who you are or where you come from, you can relate to the nervous excitement that you feel when you see that special someone. In fact, love has been the topic of some of the greatest literary, musical, and cinematic masterpieces. Think about it: love plays a significant role in most television shows, musicals, songs, and books.
Now, you may be wondering: what does love have to do with science? Though love is an emotion, it has a scientific basis. Science has the answers to why we are attracted to specific individuals and why we feel the things we do when we are in love. In this article, I will be providing the research behind attraction and the reasons why you feel the way you do when you are in love.
According to Merriam-Webster, a crush is defined as “an intense and usually passing infatuation.” How can you develop a crush on another person? While one can fall in love with the personality of another, it is physical appearance that first attracts individuals. How does attraction work?
In order to answer this question, we must understand that human brains are programmed to want to reproduce. If we reproduce, then our genes are passed on. Therefore, our genes, and in a sense, we, continue to live on. When we initially see an individual and perceive them to be physically attractive, our brain is telling us to reproduce with them because they have traits that would be beneficial to survival. For example, if I were to say that I like tall guys, I would be saying this because my brain is telling me that height is a helpful trait for survival.
Furthermore, attraction is also strongly influenced by the circumstances an individual experiences throughout life. If an individual has a pleasant experience with a bearded man, then they may associate good memories with bearded men and find them attractive. Thus, the types of people you meet and your experiences with them can influence who you find attractive.
After one has found a person attractive, one may start to develop a crush on them. Common symptoms of infatuation include continuously thinking about one’s crush, feeling nervousness around them, or frequently experiencing a racing heartbeat in their presence. Why do we feel this excitement, nervousness, and distraction around our crushes? Feelings of infatuation cause the body to release norepinephrine, a hormone that is responsible for our fight or flight reactions. Therefore, one can feel stressed and nervous around one’s crush.
Additionally, when one is in love, dopamine is released from one’s brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the pleasure center of the brain, and our bodies crave it, which is why we feel happy around our crushes. According to research published by Harvard University, when one is shown a photo of their crush, their brain’s pleasure center becomes very active. This is why we always want to be with our crushes: we crave the “high” we experience when we are around them.
Now that you know the science behind love, will you go out and find love?