Ah, remember that first time you saw the love of your life?
The humble beginnings of love can start with a friendly smile or a lingering glance from someone of interest across the room. Your eyes meet and immediately your body goes into action: heart racing, sweaty palms, and butterflies in your stomach. Is it love at first sight? Well, when it comes to love, your body actually does a lot of talking. Here’s what happens to your body when you fall in love:
- Your eyes dilate: dilated eyes are a reaction from your nervous system when you feel sympathetic. When you gaze into your loved one’s eyes, sympathetic feelings increase, causing your pupils to dilate. So, next time you’re with your loved one, check and see if their eyes are dilated – it’s a good sign!
- Your cheeks flush: when you get excited, your heart begins to race, causing your cheeks to turn red. This reaction is not always a shy blush; new love releases adrenaline in your body, simultaneously increasing your heart rate and affection.
- You’re sensitive to smell: “love is in the air” is not just a cliché. As you fall in love, pheromones, chemical messengers in your nose, can start sending you positive messages associated with your new lover’s scent.
- Your palms get sweaty: the sweat glands in your palms are called eccrine glands and, like your dilated eyes, are triggered by your sympathetic nervous system. You may notice your palms get sweaty when you’re around the one you love because these glands begin to work harder as your excitement level increases.
- You get butterflies in your stomach: Do you feel nervous and giddy near your loved one? It could be the cortisol in your stomach. Cortisol helps your body manage stress; falling in love and wondering if the other person loves you can be stressful, but it can also be a sign that you really care.
- You desire more touch: Oxytocin is another chemical your body produces when you fall in love. Because oxytocin is a calming and bonding chemical, it increases your desire to hug, kiss and build intimacy with your partner. This chemical is also what helps to create strong bonds between parents and newborns.
- You crave connection: When you love someone, your body produces dopamine, which stimulates the brain’s pleasure chemical, making you goal-oriented. You feel rewarded when you see your partner, which in turn makes you want to see them even more.
- You can’t bear to be apart: Absence really can make the heart grow fonder. Corticotropin is another hormone released when you feel stressed. When you’re away from the one you love, this hormone can increase, causing you to feel more worried or depressed. Missing the one you love is normal, and is another way your body is telling you that you’re in love.
So, the next time you meet someone, before you decide if it’s “love at first sight,” remember that these chemicals can also simulate addictive behaviors. Your body produces more of these chemicals when you first start dating someone, so it's wise to give your relationship time for these chemicals to level off. Some of these reactions may eventually go away, but with true love, your body always has a lot to say.
Did you experience these chemical reactions when you fell in love? Let us know in the comments below.