Why do we fall in love?
What would become of us without our hearts? Well, first of all, we wouldn't be alive, and secondly, we wouldn't be able to fall in love, or would we?
We attribute to the heart a special power, that of the ability to love. Love is that feeling that fills us with happiness and that we feel for the loved one, for our children, our relatives and our friends.
Perhaps we associate the heart with feelings and emotions because they affect our vital organ. When we are in love with someone our heart beats faster, when we are upset, worried or distressed, our heart races, but it also calms down with the embrace or the words of those who love us.
But is it really the heart which makes us fall madly in love with another person?
Well, apparently not, although it does intervene in the process. Here the main character is, of course, our brain, that mass of nervous tissue that governs all our actions and that is dedicated to release hormones and other substances with the only purpose that we can find our better half.
It so happens that in our brain we have an area in which the whole plot of the "falling in love" operation is hatched, and that is the limbic system. In one part of this sordid place is the hideout of the "hypothalamus", which directs the whole operation. Its main assistant is a very efficient neurotransmitter with a rather peculiar name, "phenylethalimine". This substance is responsible for making us feel euphoric, exalted and with a sense of well-being when we are in love.
"Phenylethalimine" has its own assistants, without which the whole operation would go down the drain, and these are: "dopamine", "noradrenaline" and "serotonin". Each of these substances has its own mission.
"Dopamine" is responsible for us to capture all those details that attract us to the person in question: their tastes, their interests...
"Noradrenaline" is responsible for stimulating the production of adrenaline, which causes us to feel euphoria and our heart to beat faster when we see the person we fancy.
Finally, "serotonin" is in charge of altering our emotions and causing mood swings when we are in the crazy phase of falling in love, that is, at the beginning, when everything is very intense.
All this macabre operation that is plotted in our brain and whose purpose is to alter our daily routine to make us enter into a whirl of strange feelings that inevitably lead to acts that we would not commit in a normal situation, has its beginning in another place of our body: our nose.
Okay, I know you are going to say that the first thing we look at when we are attracted to someone is the appearance. Evidently it is so, we look at another person because we find them attractive in our eyes, but it seems to be that those responsible for the spark of love, or on the contrary, that we feel nothing but rejection are the "pheromones".
These hormones leave our body en masse through sweat or other secretions and drift through the air. So what happens? Well, that's where our nose comes in. It seems that this unromantic part of our body is where it all starts. When the pheromones reach our nose, a message is sent to the head of the operation, the "hypothalamus", which is the one who finally decides whether we like the person who owns those pheromones or not.
Of course, pheromones have been proved to work in animals, but they have not yet been proved in humans, so we will have to make do with physical attraction.
Whether this is true or not, there are perfumes that are based on a pheromone concentrate and are designed to enhance our attractiveness, so perhaps attracting a partner through smell is not so silly.
Another point that our brain seems to control is how long our infatuation lasts. It seems that the "phenylethalimine", if you remember, the assistant of the "hypothalamus", is losing its effectiveness, that is to say, that the body has become accustomed to the presence of this substance and no longer pays any attention to it, which means that the whole process of falling in love undergoes a change.
At this crucial point, which usually occurs between 18 months and the first four years of the relationship, two things can happen:
1. Love fades and that's as far as we've come.
2. New neurotransmitters come into play, the "endorphins". Our brain likes the person we have chosen as a partner and does not want to let go of him or her. At this point it releases these substances, which are opiates, and which cause a feeling of well-being and pleasure when we are with our partner.
So, as in many other aspects of our lives, when we start something new, whatever it is, we feel euphoric, excited, anxious.... However, after a while, all these emotions calm down and lose their intensity, but we still feel good when we do the activity in question.
Well, you can see that the symbol par excellence of love, the heart, doesn't have much to do with the process of falling in love, but it is true that as a symbol it is much more beautiful and romantic than the brain. I don't know if you can imagine a Valentine's Day card with a painted brain; or chocolates in the shape of a brain or balloons with painted brains.
Be that as it may, love is a very precious gift that we should take great care of and that should be present in all our actions, not only in the romantic aspect, but also with the relationship we have with the other people with whom we have interactions of any kind. Not only that, our actions should always be guided by this beautiful feeling.
Enjoy this Valentine's Day and be very careful because your brain can start unleashing its army of hormones at any moment.