Why is love so beautiful?
By Chitwan Khosla, Features Editor
“Falling in love” is often described as the most beautiful thing to happen to anyone. You suddenly feel your entire body tingling, you get goosebumps, and you can sense your heart beating faster than the speed of a bullet train. You forget about your work, your worries and struggles, and sometimes even eating when you are with the person who means the world to you. At the same time, nothing bothers you as much as when your beloved ones are upset, angry, or—worse—leave you. Now, many of you will argue that love can’t be the “best” thing when it brings so much pain with it, but in a weird way, that’s one of the reasons it can be so amazing.
When I look at many of my partnered friends and colleagues, I sometimes feel they are not in love, but are instead with their partners for sexual, emotional, or social needs only. Psychologists and researchers all over the world have been studying the “phenomenon” of people falling in love. They have studied what effects this emotion has on your brain and body. Believe it or not, just a few minutes of quality time each day spent with someone you actually love can significantly prolong your life.
Let’s talk about falling in love in detail. Have you ever wondered why, no matter how many unavoidable and unresolvable differences you have with your loved one, it is difficult to let go? Well, according to Livescience.com, neuroscientists have investigated the chemicals our brain produces during the entire process of falling in love. They have also described the three phases of it—lust, attraction, and attachment. The first phase is the releasing of sex hormones. Testosterone and estrogen levels go high and induce very strong desires of physical attraction. This is one of the reasons that when we look at someone pleasing, or “sexy” for that matter, we idealize a situation of physical intimacy with them within the first few seconds of seeing them.
Next is the stage of attraction, which the neurologists believe is driven by changes in adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin. Different studies across the world have found that adrenaline increases our body’s response to stress and we feel our heart racing, our hands get sweaty, and we basically feel excited. Similarly, the dopamine causes the body to stay in euphoria, lose appetite, and keep you smiling thinking of your lover. Serotonin levels fall and keep you restless when you are away from your partner.
Last is the stage of attachment. With passage of time, your body’s reaction to chemicals produced by the brain makes you develop an emotional attachment. Livescience.com reported that this is due to the resilience which the brain forms to hormone changes. According to an article published at Youramazingbrain.org, oxytocin and vasopressin are the two main hormones that are responsible for the attachment phase. Both these hormones are released during and after sex. This is, however, different than the first phase of physical lust. This is due to the mutual respect, understanding, and strong desire to be with each other that makes you feel satisfied after having physical intimacy with your partner.
Unfortunately, most of the relationships fail to go beyond the second phase of attraction. John Mordecai Gottman is a world-renowned psychologist who specializes in psychology of love, romance, and marriages. He points ego clashes, constant criticism, sarcasm, and disrespect as major reasons to blame for this. This stands true in most of the broken relationships we see around. Some say that they love their partners but often hint that they don’t respect their partners or vice-versa. Others have been with their partners for a few years but fail to trust them. Sometimes, people are just bored of their partner.
While break-ups are a part of nearly everyone’s life, what we need to ponder is love itself. It truly is a mesmerizing experience. Apart from the effects on the brain and body, love captivates our social self.
If you want to know if you are truly in love, then watch out for some signs. Small things may begin to matter to you but are irrelevant at the same time. You may keep smiling all day, or make plans for your next weekend even before the current weekend is over. You often will become overly protective. These signs are universal and are common in all the couples who were studied.
Now the pain, the heartbreaks, and all other terrible emotions we go through when our relationships go down the drain also affect our brain and body. Heysigmund.com reported a study that claims, based on the brain scans of people who had recently came out of relationships, that heartbreaks and physical injuries stimulate the same part of the brain. Perhaps surprisingly, the same study also found that taking painkillers like Tylenol can ease the sufferings of a heart-broken person.
Heart-break makes you cry, often so hard that you feel your mouth sour while crying. Your entire jawline stiffens and your throat becomes heavy. All of this happens when you breakup after reaching the attachment stage. All of these reactions are your body’s coping-mechanism. Medicaldaily.com reports that sad tears have a different chemical make-up and are healthy for you to cry out. They have traces of stress hormones and toxins, which your body wants to get rid of, because the oxygen level in your body decreases when you are stressed. In turn, your body decreases oxygen supply to your muscles and diverts more of it to your heart to keep it beating normally. This is the reason you experience tense body and face muscles.
But again, this is the beauty of being in love. The brain and body love love and they don’t want it to go. These are the signs that we are addicted to love. Someone once told me that love is the purest form of emotion in the world, despite it being a mixture of every emotion known to man. I didn’t understand that person while I was a teen, but I do understand it now.
Love happens without any reason. It happens without announcing itself beforehand, and it stays for a life time. You can move on, but it will always be hidden somewhere in your mind. But don’t worry, it is widely supported that you become stronger and fall in love more profoundly with someone else if you’ve been through a tough breakup. Your brain becomes addicted to love and dives in again when given the opportunity. It may take time—you may be apprehensive due to the fear of another heartbreak—but your brain is a brave gambler. So, technically, you never fail in love.
Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and love is in the air. Make sure to show and express your love, but don’t keep yourself restricted to this particular day. Just remember: you can never fall in love, you can only rise in it.