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Chemistry behind Love

Updated: Jun 14, 2020

By Julia Galperin

The feeling of love, it's all anyone has ever wanted. When you had a crush on someone your heart probably raced and your palms sweated just when they looked at you. Many people think that love is connected to your heart, but love is all about the brain. The brain makes your body go crazy and not act normal.

A group of scientists led by Dr. Helen Fisher at Rutgers said that love can be broken down into three categories: lust (characterized by testosterone and estrogen), attraction (characterized by dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin), and attachment (characterized by oxytocin and vasopressin).

Dopamine, which is produced by the hypothalamus, is produced when we do things that make us happy. High levels of dopamine and norepinephrine are created/released throughout the body when you are attracted to someone. The chemicals make you excited and energetic, but can also lead to insomnia and loss of apetite. Attraction leads to a reduction in levels of seratonin, which is a hormone that is predominant in appetite and mood. Attachment is seen in long-term relationships, and the primary hormones are oxytocin and vasopressin. Oxytocin is produced thorugh bonding with a person and is known as the "cuddle hormone."

Love is a great thing, but also comes with jealousy, irrationality, and more. Dopamine is the hormone that is mostly responsible for rewards and controls good vs. bad. We experience rushes of dopamine for virtues and vices. The dopamine pathway is also an addiction and lights up the same regions that we feel when drug addicts take drugs or when we binge eat. So attraction can be seen as an addiction to another person. So, when you are going through a breakup you are actually going through a withdrawl from an addiction.

Overall, the hormones that make you feel happy and super cheerful, can also be one of the worst things for you. Love can be reason you feel so happy everyday, or the reason you cry yourself to sleep. But all of these factors are controlled by the same hormones.

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