By Anju Miura

 

Although we are never taught it, we are attracted to others, fall in love and suffer heartbreak. Romantic love is human nature, but it often gets complicated as we grow up and gain experience.

 

Unlike kindergarten sweethearts who just enjoy being together, real partnership is harder. We get upset when our partner is constantly checking their phone, keeping photos of their ex or doesn’t make enough time for us.

Despite the uncontrollable and stressful experience of falling in love, we will never stop seeking meaningful relationships.

 

But why?

 

A 1998 study revealed that different kinds of hormones contribute to the feeling of love. It categorized the biochemical basis to love into three phases: lust, attraction and attachment. 

 

1. Lust

Wherever you go — the gym, classroom, library or supermarket, if you are single, you’re likely keeping an eye open for a potential partner.

We constantly seek a partner because of powerful hormones (testosterone and estrogen) that alert us of the presence of possible partners.

 

Although testosterone is known as the “male hormone” and estrogen is known as the “female hormone,” most people have some of both.

2. Attraction

After developing a crush, you will experience the most exciting stage, when you spend hours deciding tomorrow’s outfit or waiting by your phone for a text.

 

Dopamine contributes to our feeling of being in love, bringing some physical effects such as increasing heart rate and blood pressure.

 

That’s why your heart pounds and hands get sweaty when you talk to your crush. Dopamine also encourages feelings of excitement, making you more talkative.

In addition to hormones, a neurotransmitter phenylethylamine (PEA) also becomes active in this stage. PEA makes us feel euphoric, so you may smile a lot and feel as if you are in heaven by falling in love.

 

“Love is addictive” is not just a cliche. Surprisingly, the brain of someone in love is awfully similar to the one high on cocaine.

 

As a result of those hormones and chemicals, we can get high without breaking the law.

 

3. Attachment

No matter how passionate your love is, your body develops a tolerance for the excitement and pleasure induced by hormones, and the attraction to your crush gradually fades away.

 

Dating for two months or two years doesn’t look same. As the relationship gets longer, we tend to put less effort into our appearance and entertaining our partner. But, eventually, the feeling of attachment emerges.

During this final phase, the brain induces a group of hormones called endorphins that provide a sense of security and calmness. Oxytocin, a hormone also known as the “cuddle hormone,” evokes feelings of relaxed satisfaction, establishing your attachment to the loved one.

 

These hormones lead us to long-lasting commitment, focusing on stability and peace rather than excitement.

 

The scientific explanation of love provides a reasonable explanation about the unexplainable tingly feelings in the pit of your stomach, yet the concept of love is hard to describe or understand.

 

Understanding hormones and chemicals doesn’t ease the stress we experience each time we are left disappointed: we have a crush on someone, suffer a heartbreak and regret our decision. But, the search for someone else continues because of our lust-seeking human nature, not because of our stupidity.