19 Scientifically Proven Ways “Love” Affects Our Bodies Like A Drug

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via TriggerPhoto
We often think of love as something spiritual—a matter of the “heart” and “mind”—but we sometimes forget that the heart and brain are also parts of our body. Here are 19 ways that being in love literally affects your body.

1. “Love at first sight” is real, and it’s caused by chemicals.

Researchers claim that merely by looking at someone, a person can fall in love in one-fifth of a second due to a sudden increase in a protein known as “nerve growth factor.”

2. Those “butterflies” you feel in your stomach are also caused by chemicals.

Falling in love causes a spike in adrenaline, which induces the “fight or flight” instinct. If you don’t flee, you’ll usually stay. And you won’t fight—at least not at first.

3. Your pupils will dilate when you look at your lover.

A person’s pupils naturally expand when looking at something they like. People also tend to find others with wide pupils more attractive.

4. The “falling in love” phase will cause literal changes in your brain’s chemistry…

An intoxicating cocktail of chemicals—such as vasopressin, dopamine, and cortisol—will flood your brain when you fall in love.

5. …but the changes won’t last much longer than a year…

According to researchers, though, these changes in brain chemistry rarely last longer than a year, at which point they will return to the levels found before you fell in love.

6. …but after that year, you may want to cuddle more.

Although the euphoric changes in brain chemistry are never permanent, if the relationship continues, cuddling will result in increased levels of a hormone called oxytocin—otherwise known as the “cuddle hormone.” The brain releases it during moments of intimacy. Oxytocin is experienced differently by males and females. It is instrumental in females during orgasm. It is also why women tend to want to cuddle more after sex, while men merely want to sleep.

7. You will have fewer headaches.

Oxytocin has also been found to alleviate headaches, so cuddle up!

8. You will feel as if you’re high on drugs and may also feel addicted to your lover.

Being in love fills one’s brain with dopamine, the “pleasure chemical.” Dopamine levels also increase with stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamines. This is often why people feel “addicted” to their lover and crave them in their absence.

9. You will feel stress—both the good and bad kind.

Love also fills the body with cortisol, which causes stress. But stress is not always negative, as it’s needed for physical arousal. But if you have a fight, you will feel the bad kind of stress—again, blame it on the cortisol.

10. You will feel physical pleasure merely by looking at a picture of your lover…

Researchers have found that looking at a picture of one’s beloved causes higher blood flow to the parts of the brain that feel pleasure.

11. …and if you’re in physical pain, looking at a picture of your lover will reduce it.

Studies have shown that looking at a picture of a lover can reduce moderate pain by 40% and severe pain by up to 15%.

12. Merely holding hands with them can calm your nerves and reduce physical pain.

Science reveals that holding your lover’s hand soothes your neurons and can actually alleviate physical pain.

13. You may think similarly to someone who has obsessive-compulsive disorder…

Falling in love can cause serotonin levels to drop by nearly 40%—around the same deficit as those who suffer from OCD.

14. …you also may think similarly to a schizophrenic.

The increased dopamine levels found in those who are in love are also similar to the elevated dopamine levels of those with schizophrenia.

15. Your body has responded to the scent of their pheromones because they’re different than yours…

Research has shown that women are attracted to men whose genes emit pheromones that are dissimilar to theirs.

16. …unless you’re taking birth-control pills.

But if a woman is taking oral contraceptives, she will be attracted to men whose pheromones are similar to hers. This only becomes problematic if she goes off birth control and seeks to mate with her lover, because her pheromones will switch back to normal and she may no longer be attracted to him.

17. Love increases a woman’s testosterone levels; it decreases a man’s levels.

Love makes women feel empowered. It also makes men feel a little more like women.

18. You will feel literal pain when you get dumped.

The brain uses the same pathways to feel physical and emotional pain. One study showed that the same pain centers lit up when a person had a hot probe placed on their forearm as they did when looking at a picture of someone who rejected them.

19. A “broken heart” is a real heart condition that can actually kill you.

Broken heart syndrome” is a real condition also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy that causes a temporary enlargement of the heart that in extreme cases can be fatal. For whatever reason, it’s far more common in women than in men. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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Lorenzo Jensen III

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