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Why do we fall in love? Science explains in just three easy steps

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Falling in love can be an addictive high due to the brain’s production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. Romantic love can be divided into three stages: lust, attraction, and attachment.
Why do we fall in love? Science explains in just three easy steps

Love is a mysterious pull that binds two people together, one of the universe’s biggest unanswered mysteries. It is an ethereal concept with no scientific foundation, and cannot be explained by anyone’s own love formula.

But researchers at Rutgers University, headed by Dr. Helen Fisher, claim that a unique set of hormones that originate in the brain define the various stages of falling in love.

People fall in love following the 3 basic stages: lust, attraction, and attachment. Each stage is stimulated by a particular set of hormones. Testosterone and oestrogen fuel lust; dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin promote attraction; and oxytocin and vasopressin activate attachment.

It’s unsurprising that for many years, people believed that love and the majority of other feelings came from the heart. But according to researchers at Rutgers University, love is all about the brain, which sends the rest of your body into a frenzy.

Stage 1: Lust
Sexual satisfaction is the motivation behind lust. The synthesis of testosterone and oestrogen from the testes and ovaries is stimulated by the hypothalamus (a part of the brain). Oestrogen levels occur around the time of ovulation, while testosterone stimulates libido.

Stage 2: Attraction
The initial weeks of a relationship can be extremely exciting and even all-consuming because “attraction” affects the brain pathways that regulate “reward” behaviour. During attraction, dopamine and norepinephrine are released, which result in decreased appetite and cause insomnia.

Dopamine (pleasure), adrenaline (fight or flight), and norepinephrine (alertness) induce the feeling of euphoria and can make falling in love seem like an addictive high.

Researchers have hypothesised that low serotonin levels may be responsible for the decrease in response to attraction, which affects hunger and mood. This could explain the infatuation that defines the early phases of love.

Stage 3: Attachment

Attachment is key to long-term relationships, with oxytocin and vasopressin being the two main hormones, while lust and attraction are limited to romantic relationships.

Oxytocin is a cuddle hormone produced by the hypothalamus and released in significant amounts during sex. It is a prelude to bonding, as we are attached to our family.

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