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That Thing Called LOVE

“Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.” – Paulo Coelho

People were killed, wars were fought, and destinies were changed for this intoxicating emotion. Let us try to know a thing or two about this thing called Love.

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Why do we fall in love?
Monogamy does not seem to be natural neither for males nor for females. Romantic love serves the purpose of evolution for both the sexes. It makes us so attractive for the partner that we reproduce. Anthropologists say that the nature only makes us “feel in love” for a few months or years till the rearing of a child, roughly somewhere between three years and the seven-year-itch. After that both the partners are very much out of love and ready to “fall in love” with someone else. Mother Nature does all this very intelligently through the chemistry behind love.

Chemistry of Love
When you fall in love more than your heart, it’s your brain that works. It releases a host of hormones and chemicals to make the feeling so surreal. Besides this, the following activities go inside you:
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  • Pounding of the heart thrice faster than the normal rate.
  • Gushing of the blood to the sexual organs and cheeks. (No wonder that glow on the face)
  • Lack of blood supply to the legs and hands causes sweaty palms and feet and a shiver.
  • Diversion of the blood from the stomach gives butterflies in the stomach.
  • All these chain reactions makes the person look a little disoriented and nervous.

The three stages of Love- Lust, Attraction and Attachment
The stages of love can be divided into three:
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Lust- This hormone-driven stage is where we experience strong desire.
Attraction- Blood flows to the pleasure areas of the brain when we experience an over-whelming fixation with the partner.
Attachment- The body becomes tolerant to the pleasure stimulants. Endorphins and the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin flood the body, creating a sense of over-all well-being and security.

It is important to graduate from the first to the third stage to have a long-lasting relationship.

The Science behind Love
Lot of researches have been carried out on this heady feeling of love. Some of them are:

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It takes only one-fifth of a second to fall in love
According to Stephanie Ortigue, Assistant Professor (Psychology) at the Syracuse University, falling in love triggers euphoric feelings in us and affects the intellectual area of our brain. It takes about one-fifth of a second to fall for someone. Ortigue and her co-researchers were assisted by teams from a University hospital in Switzerland and West Virginia University. The study appears in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

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Love can ease the physical pain
According to a study conducted at the Stanford University School of Medicine, the passionate and intense love can actually alleviate the pain to a certain extent. Its effect is similar to that of painkillers or illegal drugs like cocaine. Love activates the same area in the brain which is activated when one takes drugs to reduce the pain. The study is published in PLos ONE (online publication)

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Love can, indeed, make us blind
According to Domeena Renshaw, MD, Loyola University Health System, love lowers the serotonin levels in the body. This effect is also seen in people with OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. We tend to concentrate only on our partners in the initial stages of the relationship. We start idolizing the partner and only see the things we “want” to see. Outsiders might have a rational perspective on the relationship than the people involved.

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Love makes everyone else less attractive
According to the researchers from the University of Los Angeles, love put blinders on lovers. They can hardly see anything or anyone beyond their romantic partners. This happens in the initial period of the relationship.
The feeling of love is so strong that it puts aside any thoughts of good looking people. This makes the partner the most beautiful or handsome person. Thus, people are able to overcome any attractive temptation at least in the beginning of the affair.

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Relationship upheavals affect young men more than young women
According to a study conducted by Robin Simon, sociology professor at the Wake Forest University, men are more vulnerable to relationship ups and downs than women. For men, the romantic partners are the primary source of intimacy whereas women are likely to have close ties with family and friends. Strain in the romantic relationship disturbs the emotional anchor of men. The research is published in Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

However, the best way to understand love is to take the leap of faith into it. Just remember that “love can consign us to hell or to paradise. But it always takes us somewhere.” So, be prepared to reach somewhere.

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